So yesterday I got to go on a field trip to Narita with all of my IES classmates. Once a year, Narita holds a Taiko Festival, which is a huge drum festival where many Taiko players perform. Taiko (太鼓) means, “drum” in Japanese and refers to the various Japanese drums and to the relatively recent art form of ensemble Taiko drumming (sometimes called more specifically, “kumi-daiko” (組太鼓)). After we got to Narita, I met up with all my classmates and we went to go get lunch. We had Kabayaki, which is a grilled sea eel and is considered to be a very nice meal and it’s pretty expensive. At the restaurant you could see them grilling the fresh eel from outside. The Eel was delicious; it was served on top of a bowl of rice, and was really tender and melted in your mouth. Afterwards we got to go to all the little street market stores, which was on the same road as the Temple where the drum festival would be held. We had about 2 hours of free time before we went to tour all the Shrines, so my friends and I walked through all the little shops. The first stop that caught our attention was this place serving little sample drinks. The product was called Sugi, and it was an all natural honey that was combined with various fruits like lemon, grape, mango, strawberry, and many more. It’s a very versatile product and you can mix it with water like a tea, or you can mix it with vodka as a cocktail and even put it on top of yogurt. I picked up the mango one and used it with hot water the other day. It’s delicious and I want to try mixing it with Gin next. We continued walking through the street market and came across a chopstick (はし) store, which had an immense amount of chopsticks and they did free engraving. I looked around for a bit and figured I should stop by here on the way back to the shrines. We continued walking away from the temple towards more of the street market shops. There were many Taiko performances going on and we stopped and watched a few of them as we continued shopping. We then came across a particular interesting performance that caught all of our attention; it was a street performer with a monkey! The show was fantastic to watch and it was incredible how well behaved the monkey was, it would do tricks and also get the audience fired up. We stayed and watched the whole show and by the end of it, it was time to head back to the temple.
On the way back I stopped and looked at all the chopsticks again, I felt like I was choosing a wand like in Harry Potter. After carefully scanning through all of the chopsticks, I finally found my favorite pair, one I could have for life. I then purchased it and went and got my name engraved on the side (ヘイワード). It was time to head to the temple ground for the tour of all the different shrines and temples. We experienced a shrine ceremony and a lot of it was chanting which wasn’t really audible, but it was still very interesting. Towards the end of the ceremony they let anyone who wanted to, bring up their bags and have the people cleanse it over the fire. I did this with my camera bag and it’s supposed to cleanse it of all the evil spirits, and bring good fortune to you. We then begun touring all the shrines and there were a lot of great photo opportunities. By this time the Taiko performance was just an hour away. We went and found goods seats to watch the show and waited for it to start. The Taiko performance was incredible and it was crazy to see all the choreography that goes along with each beat of the drum. Not only were they in beat the whole time by they were also perfectly coordinated, it was definitely worth the trip to Narita. I highly recommend going to the Taiko festival in Japan, it’s incredible to see and it’s really unique to Japan.