Aki Matsuri (Japanese autumn festival)

October 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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A few weeks ago — while my laptop was filled with coffee — Blake and I went to the Aki Matsuri festival which was being given by the Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association. It was held at a nearby college and I got tons of photos, but since my laptop was out of commission I couldn’t post them. Please enjoy them here now, though, better late than never.

It was a really neat festival. It was well attended and the people putting it together obviously knew what they were doing. There were a bunch of booths selling food, koi, interesting Japanese gifts and souvenirs, kimonos, frogs, more koi, sushi, tea, koi-pond equipment, and a number of other things. And all day long there were various cultural performances on several different stages: music, dancing, martial arts, tea ceremonies, whatever. About half the attendees were obviously Asian, and I was surprised at how many kids under eighteen were there seemingly without parents. There were oodles of girls walking around in kimonos who didn’t seem to have any real festival-related purpose — maybe they were attendees who owned kimonos and thought it would be fun to wear them. According to Wikipedia, Seattle is 13.2% Asian, so it probably isn’t surprising that there were as many visitors as there were.

Anyway, it was really fun. Our friends Hilton and Jocelyn met us there with their kids, and all in all it was a nice day. On to the photos!

Tiny kimono girl looking at koi

This little girl was checking out the koi.

Happy taiko drummers

This taiko drumming performance had primarily high-school-age (I think?) performers. Although they performed for about 35 minutes, they were the happiest drummers I'd ever seen! They just kept breaking into grins. It was pretty cute.

Young taiko drumming spectators

These kids lasted about fifteen minutes before they got bored and were led out by their teacher in an unquiet exodus. It was a good performance, though, and we stayed for the whole thing.

Old Japanese women writing something

You know as much as I do about this photo. I guess they were writing... something. In Japanese.

Japanese chalk or something

For some reason there was all kinds of chalking going on. Maybe that's part of the traditional festival or Japanese or something? I don't know. Amazingly, though this area was covered with teenagers all day, nobody chalked anything obscene or vulgar.

A little girl meeting Hello Kitty

A little girl meeting Hello Kitty.

Some less-little girls meeting Hello Kitty.

Some less-little girls meeting Hello Kitty.

Woman with weird finger puppets

This woman had on these weird animal finger-puppet gloves. Frankly, they were kind of creepy, but the kids seemed to like them and the woman was friendly.

Paper sign

Puget Area Paperfolding Enthusiasts Roundtable. It spells "paper." Get it?

The PAPER members showing people how to fold paper

The PAPER members showing people how to fold paper.

Hilton and Blake playing that ball-cup game.

Hilton and Blake playing that ball-cup game. You can see the much-expanded sea of chalk drawings behind them.

Some kimono girls.

Some kimono girls.

Kimono girls love Lillian!

When the kimono girls saw Lillian, they cooed over her and then stood next to her to pose for a photo. We thought they were posing so *we* could take a photo with *them*, but it soon became apparent that they wanted a photo with Lillian, the tiny celebrity! They spent about five minutes making sure each one of them got a picture with her. It was cute and hilarious.

Little girl kimono photo shoot

For a small fee you could get your photo taken all kimonoed up! It was pretty cute to see the little girls doing this.

Kimonos

Kimonos

All dolled up

This girl wasn't wearing a kimono, but I still felt exposed to Japanese culture. When I asked to take her photo she seemed kind of sheepish but was still happy to pose.

A cute kid

A cute kid.

Hilton drawing a Japanese character

Hilton paid $1 to be shown how to draw a character. (I think this one was "beauty.") After a few tries, we picked the best one and the woman mounted it on construction paper with pretty ribbon like the ones in the background.

Ukulele band

I was really eager to see this group which was listed as "ukulele band" on the program. Although they were good, I was hoping for energetic upbeat strumming and this was more... sedate. Slow repetitive Don Ho stuff with simple chord progressions. There were about fifteen people on stage, and they all seemed really happy to be there. After a few songs we sneaked out and tried not to look like jerks.

Authentic Japanese flea market

This room was billed as an "authentic Japanese flea market," though it looked pretty much like a regular flea market to me. I did pick up a spiffy blanket for $6 and duck-shaped hygrometer/thermometer for $2. The duck is cute, but he only tells the temp in celsius. =(

Seattle Japanese princesses

These girls' sashes all said "Seattle Japanese Princess" on the front. I'm not sure what lineage that implies, but they certainly had a crowd of young men around them.

Japanese princess #1

One of the princesses. She certainly looks regal!

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Paintball!

September 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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At long last I have gotten back my laptop in a fully restored state. The faint aroma of fresh coffee still wafts from its vents, but with the new keyboard, new motherboard, and new screen (and -$600) it is finally as good as new.

A few weeks ago our friend Hilton (who recommended Blake to Amazon) had a paintball birthday party. The place was out in the middle of nowhere, so Team Software Engineers was mostly up against Team Redneck Stereotypes for the first part of the day. I was feeling a little under the weather, so although I love paintball I decided to sit and watch. I came armed with a book and Blake’s iPhone and I mostly hung out with them between matches. I also got some fantastic photos, but because there are so many I really pruned down the set in deciding which ones to post here. I usually like all my photos — that’s why I took them! — so it often takes me a few passes to cull down the list to only the ones that I think will be interesting to people who aren’t me. You can be the judge of how successful I was. =)

(For those of you who don’t know, paintball is played with a gun that shoots little dime-sized paint balls which have a thick outer skin like a bath bead. The guns are powered with CO2. When they hit you, they hurt a fair amount and leave a big paint splotch on your clothes (and hopefully not your skin, because getting hit there hurts a lot). People play all sorts of games — capture the flag, last man standing, etc. It’s usually played in an arena that has lots of obstacles and things to hide behind and run between for shelter from the opposing team’s gunfire. It involves lots of running and crouching and dodging and is a pretty exhausting but fun activity.)

On the drive home, Blake was talking about how it was frustrating to play with the extraordinarily inaccurate paintball guns that you can rent there. I suggested he buy a gun for himself and then he and Hilton (who love love loves paintball) could go and play every so often. He wasn’t sure Hilton would be up for it, but the next day we got an email from Hilton suggesting that very same thing! Apparently he and Jocelyn had had a similar conversation. Once Blake’s ankle has fully healed, I think he’s going to look into that.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. Tiring, but fun.

The game area was behind this thick plastic netting to protect spectators. I spent the first half of the day with my nose pressed against it, until a player pointed out the fine splattered paint layer on all the plants within three feet of the netting. After that I stood back a ways!

Our guys (and Jocelyn). The fellow facing the camera in the background was the referee who was setting the ground rules.

The enemy.

Hilton and Blake mid-game

The opposing team running to take some ground. (Shot through the netting mentioned above.)

Team Amazon (and Google) emerges victorious

There were some apples nearby that were just beautiful. I'm a sucker for pretty apples.

A young paintballer

Another young paintballer

Blake, Hilton, and Hilton's friend Justin

At the end of the day, Blake was only a little worse for wear.

Blake's battle damage for the day. Fear not, ladies, I got him those clothes at a thrift store especially for this occasion. (And even so, they came out perfectly stain-free when I washed them at home later.) I don't really know why there's a cow falling on the shirt, but I thought it was cute.

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