This Summer

This summer was the best.

One of my worries about having and raising kids here in Japan was that their childhood memories would be so completely different to mine.  I had a pretty great childhood in rural England and growing up in urban Japan just seemed so foreign (duh) that I couldn’t imagine how it would compare.

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And the toddler’s childhood so far has been different to mine – of course it has – not just everyday stuff but big events and holidays too.  Christmas is the obvious one  – while it is an event here, the 25th itself is just an ordinary working day and Japanese Christmas cake bears very very little resemblance to a ‘proper’ one. But it’s easy enough to have an English-style Christmas dinner (minus the parsnips) and with a tree and decorations and a stocking it’s not really all that different from Christmas back home.

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An English Summer, though, is harder to fake, with insane humidity, weeks of 35+ degree weather and no long, light evenings.  This was the first year that the toddler’s been old enough to really enjoy what our little city has to offer in summer – nap time is no longer sacred and bedtime can be stretched out. So we took early morning and evening trips to our favourite beach, hit up as many local matsuri as we could, watched the fireworks and ate somen and kakigori by the bucket load. The toddler spent hours in the sea, got bored after 10 minutes of fireworks and danced her geta off at every matsuri.

At home we pretended over and over to go to Daiei to buy yukata which we then wore to imaginary matsuri and I could see her building her own idea (and adding to mine) of what summer is all about.

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More Dancing!

Last week was the much-anticipated Golden Week here in Japan, and after altogether too much rain at the beginning came a weekend of glorious sunshine, perfect summer days in Spring.

There was a popular festival held here over two of the days, a Very Big Deal, attended by millions of spectators, ourselves included. As with any good festival, there were food stalls aplenty, with sizzling yakitori and okonomiyaki, tiny toffee apples and giant bags of candy floss for those with sweeter teeth.

The main event was a parade lasting several hours. Finishing long past toddler tea-time as it did, we saw but a fraction, toddler riding high on Daddy’s shoulders. We stood at the very end of the route, watching band upon band marching the last few metres, clearly exhausted but (mostly) still all smiles.

The traditional dancers that followed were lovely, and the toddler was captivated, each mention of heading home  greeted with a cry of “more dancing!”

The next big festival here is in the summer, when it will be hot and humid and hard to move at all, and there will be more dancing, and shaved ice (I hope), and we will stand and watch, again.