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Cherry Blossoms

wishweaver, the daughter-unit and I hit the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival yesterday. Caught the metro in, avoided the usual tangle of protesters who seem to flock to any occasion in D.C. to make their point to a captive audience, and made it over to the street fair.

It's a pretty elaborate affair along Constitution Avenue and Pennsylvania Ave. On one end on Constitution Ave, they had a mini-Ginza shopping area set up ending at the martial arts demonstrations and the traditional Japanese music stage. At the other end was an area set up for more contemporary Japanese items, (manga, anime, figures) and a J-Pop Stage. Along Pennsylvania, they had the Japanese food and another stage where they were performing J-Rock (at least when I wandered down there.)

The first tent we visited was selling kimonos. A good friend of ours fell in love with kimonos while in Japan and studied with an older Japanese woman to learn proper kimono etiquette and wear. Jodi helped us get the daughter-unit set up with yukata (a light-weight outer garment), an obi, the tabi and wooden sandals. We'll work on getting the rest of the outfit another time. Kimono's are beautiful, but they're not cheap. Her kimono is red with black flowers outlined in gold, with a dark green obi (so dark it's easily mistaken for black). Very attractive combination.

We walked around for a bit viewing the booths. We split up for a while and I wandered down to the marital arts demos. Wish and D-U hung around for a while but they decided to head home early. I caught a ride with my kendo sempai, Chris and stayed almost until 4:00.

The first demo I watched was judo. It was pretty impressive, but the crowd favorite was when they had the fourth-degree black belt fighting the 9-year old girl. She was grabbing him with really good form, but she couldn't get him off his feet. Then he'd pick her up and swing her around before setting her down and then letting her "throw him". It was cute, but if you paid attention, she would have cleaned up against someone her own size/age. The match between the sandan from France and the yondan from Japan was impressive though.

I watched part of the Karate demo (was talking to some other people during part of it) and then watched the joto (jo stick vs. sword). Joto is used by the Japanese riot police to help control situations where a gun or a sword would be too "intense". They showed how effective even a simple walking stick can be in the hands of an expert.

Following the joto, was a naginata demonstration. Sempai Chris used to study naginata, so I'm fairly familiar with this discipline. The Kendo demo followed that and then the iaido demo. One of the kids in the crowd was convinced the iaido demo was being done with blunt swords . . . that was until they got out the rugs and cut through a rolled-up rug with a single slice.

While all these demos were going on, a group from a Japanese university was performing on the drums on the traditional music stage. I almost felt like I was in a Kurosawa film during some of the free sparring that was going on. It was surreal and yet highly appropriate.

I hooked up with Chris and a couple of his friends after the demos. We snagged some food and then caught the metro back to where he'd parked his car.

All in all, a pretty good day. Although, there was one small error on my part. I'm sporting a rather healthy (or unhealthy) case of sunburn. It was weird, it was so warm all week, but it was only a high of 65 yesterday. It didn't feel hot at all, but my head, forehead, arms and neck were rather toasty when I got home last night. It's feeling better today, but I'm still not looking forward to kendo tomorrow. Might be a bit annoying getting hit on my sunburn, even through the helmet. We'll see how it goes.

Still, all in all, a very enjoyable festival.


( 2 howls — Howl with the Pack )
Apr. 11th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
You're not the only one - I was in and out of buildings all day, having gone to the Natural History twice and the Botanical gardens, and yet I've got a very cherry red nose and throat today!
Apr. 11th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
It's better than it was last night, but I can still feel some heat when I touch the top of my head.

Practice tomorrow is going to be "entertaining".
( 2 howls — Howl with the Pack )

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