Despite reputation, a park can be the site of both recreation and education. Last weekend Maggie and I attended a small festival in honor of the blossoming of the plum trees. Japan is perhaps best known for its cherry blossoms, but lets be realistic, it is home to many kinds of fruit trees all of which bloom at some time or another. However, in the case of the plum trees that time did not correspond with the scheduled date of the plum blossom festival. This was merely a detail and everybody did their best to overlook it and have a good time anyway.
The festivities included some great people watching, entertainment and food. The highlights of the people watching was a child crying and walking blindly head first into a slide, a stroller filled with cats and dogs, and parade of guys playing flutes with baskets on their heads. One of these guys approached us and tried to put his basket on Maggie's head.
The entertainment was provided by an elderly gentleman who seemed to be something like a very traditional Japanese clown. I say clown, but only for lack of a better word. The man was catering his show to children, but he had no make up, nor the silly demeanor of a clown. However his act did involve spinning tops, dancing monkeys and some kind of magic, or trickery, which I am still not so sure.
The best looking snack at the festival was also the most exciting, mystifying and educational. Now I realize that there is nothing particularly mystifying about rice crispy squares, but when they are sold next to a large canon looking machine that explodes every twenty minutes they can be. We were attracted to the stand when we first heard a loud exploding noise and saw a cloud of smoke rise in the distance. We approached the scene quickly to investigate. What we found were three people working very nonchalantly behind a typical fare style tent. In front of the tent was a large griddle and various stacks of puffed rice snacks. To the right of the tent was the canon like machine. The eldest worker, and clearly the boss stood behind the canon drinking sake and smoking cigarettes. He wore a white glove on his left hand and I noticed that the pinky of his glove stuck up in such a way that suggested the glove was empty there. With the amount of sake he was drinking I thought he had lost the pink to the canon machine, but thinking about it later the guy was probably Yakuza, or dishonored Yakuza as loss of a pinky finger is a sign of having dishonored the Yakuza.