Monday, September 2, 2013

Japanese Festival

I love long weekends, although I am sad to see summer come to an end.  Today, we braved the heat and headed to the Botanical Garden for the annual Japanese Festival.  Matt's company is a corporate sponsor for the Garden and on occasion, we are able to go to special events/exhibits for free.  His company had a few free passes for the Japanese Festival (which is an immensely popular event for the Garden) and Matt won a pair!

It was wicked hot this weekend, which we were hoping would deter some people from venturing out to the Garden since Matt isn't a big fan of crowds.  We decided that it was too hot for Jack-Jack though, so my Mom watched him while we went (thanks, Mom!). We got to the Garden about an hour and a half after the Festival opened and we were pleasantly surprised to find a spot on the main parking lot.

We headed straight to the area where they were holding a Sumo wrestling demonstration; something both Matt and I were anxious to see.  It was blazing hot, but we found a spot in the shade, luckily.  We learned about Sumo from three former wrestlers who were originally from Hawaii and it was fascinating.  Unlike American sports, where athletes have ridiculous salaries and signing bonuses and an off-season, Sumo wrestlers live and breathe Sumo 24/7.  The wrestlers talked about their training and life in the stables, as well as demonstrating some common moves.  We were even treated to a few matches!  They asked for several kids to come up to the stage to practice some moves and we asked Nick if he wanted to go up, but he was too bashful.  Later, they asked if any adults in the audience wanted to take on one of the wrestlers and I tried to get Matt to go up, since he finds it fascinating, but no dice.  Although, he did say afterwards that he wished he had gone up.  After the show, we were able to meet the wrestlers and they autographed our program.  Nick was a bit shy when meeting them, but he loved getting their autographs.  Our unanimous favorite wrestler was Sunahama (below in blue).  The guys were really great and we are fortunate that they come to St. Louis each year (I think this was their 9th year at the Festival) to share their sport with us.

Us with the Sumo wrestlers (L-R Sunahama, Kamikiiwa, and Koryu)
After the Sumo demonstration, we headed to the Japanese Garden, which is my favorite part of the Garden and a fitting place to visit during the Japanese Festival.  The Lotus flowers were in bloom and were quite stunning!  We also got to see a dashi strolling through the Garden, which Nick loved.  It's a beautifully decorated stage built on a cart that is carried around during festivals, typically with musical accompaniment. 

Dashi at the Japanese Festival
Storm clouds were beginning to roll in at this point, but we also wanted to go see the Japanese Drums demonstration, so we headed back to the amphitheater.  The Taiko drumming presentation was also very cool!  It started to rain a bit and the wind was really gusty, but it kind of added to the ambiance of the drums, which was cool. The storm blew over, but we were getting hungry at that point, so we headed out and took Nick to Steak 'n Shake for lunch.  It was a really fun afternoon and a great way for all of us to learn a bit more about Japanese culture.  It was also great Mommy/Daddy/Nick bonding time, although we did miss Jack-Jack (he would have loved the drums!).

I had high hopes for a productive afternoon, but the heat did me in and so I settled for a long nap instead.  I figured our walking around the Garden constituted as a workout for today.  

"Definition of a really good workout. When you hate doing it, but you love finishing it."