Harry Potter, Harry Harry Potter!

We  went to see Harry Potter last weekend, and while we all enjoyed the movie, we had the most fun with this poster in the hallway.

Movies theaters in Japan are really expensive ($20) but you get to pick your own seat which are huge and very comfortable, and the popcorn is reasonably priced.

The best part about Japanese movie theaters though, is this sweet anti-piracy ad they show:

Aww… Japan

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Introducing Anpanman

Japanese popular culture. World renowned for Anime, Pokemon and Karaoke, and now, for Anpanman.

Anpanman, my favourite new pop culture phenomenon, is a superhero made of bread. His head is made from the popular treat Anpan, a bun stuffed with red bean paste.

He was created by the Japanese writer, Takashi Yanase. Takashi created him as a superhero that could also feed people after he dreamed of Anpan while serving as soldier in WWII.

He is by far the most popular children’s character in Japan, and with good reason. He and his friends – Shokupan man (white bread man), Currypan man, and Melonpannachan (Melon bread girl) save the world every episode from the evil Baikinman (germ man).

After a long day of stopping whatever Baikinman was planning, Anpanman often feeds the victims of Baikinmans crimes with pieces of his own head. Don’t worry dear friends, because as soon as Anpanman returns home, his head is replaced with a new one baked by Uncle Jam.

I recently visited the Anpanman museum in Kochi, and it was crazy. Hundreds of toddlers running around screaming ‘ANPANMAN!!’ I am bringing home one of his comics translated in English, and am so excited to share it with the uninitiated. A superhero. Made of Bread!

How to: take the JR to Tosu-Yamada, and then take the Bus to the museum. You can’t miss the bus, it is painted all over with Anpanman characters. It only leaves twice an hour, costs 600 yen and is 25 minutes long, but it’s well worth it for this hilarious slice of Japan.

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Festival Season!

The rainy season is finally over, and that means it’s time for my personal favourite! Festivals! There is a festival to attend every weekend around here, and if you’re adventurous, you can probably find one to attend every night during the week too.  While festival season technically coincides with ‘summer’ and you do have to put up with a lot of heat and humidity to attend them, they are certainly worth it.

A student drew me this picture of Yukata, the traditional festival wear for women. I am going Yukata shopping soon, and assuming I can find one that fits, will be wearing it to all future festivals! I think my clumsy self will be skipping the wooden sandals though.

Every town has at least one major summer festival, with food booths, dancing, games, and a fireworks display. I love the atmosphere at festivals, and the fireworks put every Canada Day celebration I’ve attended to shame, but the real standout is the food. Okonomiyaki, yakitori (grilled meat), yakisoba (grilled noodles), fried chicken, and tacoyaki (fried doughy balls full of octopus) are cheap and delicious. For dessert my favourite is Taiyaki – a pancake shaped like a fish and filled with custard or chocolate.

This poster is for the Setaka fireworks festival. Each of these men is on the planning committee. I think it’s the most hilarious poster.

Today I will be attending Yamakasa – an ancient festival in Fukuoka city where mostly naked men run around pulling carts and getting splashed with water at 5 am. Next week I am going to a fireworks festival and a dragon festival! Bring on the shaved ice and the okonomiyaki!

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May 5th is Children’s Day in Japan. It used to be known as boys day, but because girls day, in march, is not a public holiday, they changed the name to be more inclusive. Families with boys hang these kites shaped like carp, Koinobori, outside of their houses.

The carp was chosen because it represents determination and strength. The Black kite represents the father, Red, the mother and the Blue, the children. I am not sure about the multicoloured kite on top, and no Japanese person I’ve asked yet has been able to explain it.

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Awesomesauce stickers!

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