Monday, September 6, 2010

Japanese Festival at Saint Louis Botanical Gardens

Every year on Labor Day weekend Greenturtle and I try to hit the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. I've enjoyed Japanese culture ever since I spent my senior year of high school in Maizuru, Japan as an exchange student, during which I learned to enjoy sushi and other Japanese foods, joined the high school kendo team, became fairly fluent in Japanese, and, as the only American in the whole town, enjoyed a mild celebrity that grew tiresome pretty quickly. As one of the less annoying examples, on numerous occasions complete strangers wanted to take my picture, sometimes with them standing beside me goofily making peace signs. Greenturtle likes different things about Japan: Godzilla, manga and anime are probably at the top of his list. And he adores sushi. So the festival is good times for all.

Due to the very mild temperatures, it was an even better experience than usual. We got there in time for Greenturtle to watch the bonsai demonstration (bonsai is on his "someday" list to take up as a hobby), then we strolled the grounds wearing yukata (cotton kimonos) and this was a real "blast from the past" experience for me...because several people wanted to take our photograph! (Yes, we let them.)

Unfortunately, because of the crowds, I saw almost no birds. There was a nice male wood duck hanging out with a flock of mallards in the pond, but since he refused to come out of the shade, we didn't get a good photo. And I could kick myself for not being into birds when I was eighteen! Maybe some day I will get a chance to go back to Japan, this time with binoculars and a field guide in hand....

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