Monday, July 25, 2011

Ueno Park Natsu Matsuri

A friend invited us to go to Ueno Park this past weekend to check out a yukata show, part of the park's Natsu Matsuri (summer festival).

I hadn't been since sakura season, and I noticed that it's significantly less crowded now. As illustration, these two photos were taken in the same place. Not exactly, but the tree to the far left of the first photo is in the center of the second photo.
Sakura Season

When I had visited the lake in the park in April, it was disappointing. Brown water, dead reeds or grass, not worth taking pictures of. But now? Giant mutant water lilies.

They're pretty, but you can't tell the scale from that photo. So here's another:
I can approximate the size of those leaves by holding my arms as wide as possible with my fingertips touching. I had no idea that water lilies could get that large (or that tall!).

We also found a small flea market next to the multitude of food stalls. Lots of tea sets, jewelry, decorative wood carvings, used traditional clothing, and assorted junk.

I was saddened to see not only real furs for sale, but also an elephant foot. And a mounted deer head.

And a bear.

Okay, so it strikes me as a little crazy that there is a bear for sale at a flea market, but in addition to that it appears to be tossed on top of some other junk at the back of the booth. Behind the fake seal made of real fur and the grass hula skirt, near the wooden lawn gnome.

Summer in Japan can be face-meltingly hot. To combat this, we stopped at a booth for some shaved ice.

Nice bonus: we paid for a giant scoop of extremely fine ice shavings, then could add our own flavoring. I went with peach (and it actually tasted like peach!), but I could have combined it with any of the other flavors. There were maybe 8 flavors, I only got a picture of one of the dispensers.

We didn't see the crazy guy wearing fishbowls, but here are some other random sights around the park.

Totem pole from the Lions Club:

Whale statue, presumably life size, in front of a natural science museum:

Contemplative robot statue (I have no explanation for the construction cone, but it makes this photo so much more entertaining):

And two random women rocking out on a xylophone.

I think they followed this song with "The Girl from Ipanema" and maybe a classical piece later.

We never did figure out where the yukata show was, and nobody we asked seemed to know either.

On the way back to the station we went to a kaiten-zushi restaurant for lunch (also known as a sushi-go-round) and walked down a market street with a curious mix of shoe stores, fresh fish booths, and produce stands selling fruit at half the price I've seen at the grocery store. I have no idea how twelve shoe stores and ten fish stores within six blocks can survive, or what sense it makes to have those two types of venues literally across the alley from each other.

It was nice to come home to some homemade sangria, too. It may not be real sangria because we used white wine (red wine gives me a headache), but it's a lovely beverage for a summer evening. The flavors didn't really mix in spite of being left to sit for several hours, but it's hard to be disappointed with fruit salad and wine in almost any combination.

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