Jul 12, 2018
This is it! The big weekend for the city I live in: the port festival. Not only will there be festival stalls and festivities Sunday, concluding with fireworks that usually seem to start around 8PM, but then Monday comes with the marching of the portable shrine across the length of the town, onto the shrine boats and out to the outlying islands before coming back up the 202 stairs of Shiogama Shrine that evening. What do you do if you're not following the shrine out to the islands? Watch the parade of course!
Groups of mutual hobbyists, social collectives and students all march to the same song, doing their interpretation of a historical dance. This round, my daughter and I will be making an appearance with the Shiogama International Friendship Club, or something similar that my exhausted brain has since bungled. We've marched with them before and enjoyed it, though last time we met our match. The tendency of those who run the club is too gather all participants early in the morning at a community center nearby and practice until lunch time, then eat and move to the street where we wait in the sun for one more hour before our turn comes up and we dance the length of the main street from the Ichibankan building to the main entrance to Shiogama Shrine, which stretches about 750 meters according to Google.
Last time, my daughter was an excited two year old, desperate to play and enjoy the attention, but terribly finite in the energy level she could sustain for an entire day of activity. Still, we did as instructed and showed up on time so my kid could run non-stop until we were actually on the street, about to dance. That was when the eye rubbing took hold and before I knew it, I was carrying a heavy load of toddler the entire length of the parade while my face became so red with over-exhaustion that most of my friends assume I was wearing red face paint to get into the spirit of the event.
That last experience was enough that we did not even try the following year. Only now, as I have bargained my way into a 1PM meeting followed by the marching have I been able to make myself believe that this might just be great fun.
And this time my kid will be awake.
So if you're in the area, come on out. It will be crowded and hot, but sometime between 2PM and 4PM, an adorable half-Caucasian kid may dance and smile at you.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.