Aki Matsuri: Guam Japanese Autumn Festival 2012

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Guam’s 33rd Aki Matsuri, or Japanese Autumn Festival was held on November 24. It usually starts at four in the afternoon, but me and Julius didn’t want to go that early. Guam is friggin’ HOT in the afternoon. We ended up getting to the festival at around 7pm. It was already nighttime and the festival was packed.

Aki Matsuri is a Japanese festival used to “thank the gods for a good harvest and pray for the well being of each family in the community” (source). It is usually celebrated after the rice harvest in Japan.

Although Guam has one every year, I only started going three years ago. It has become one of my favorite events of the year since then. The atmosphere is great. So many people eating, watching performances, playing games, and just having a good time. Right when we got there, Julius and I (not surprisingly) went to go look for something to eat. There were stalls everywhere, usually run by popular restaurants and hotels on the island.

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I had a craving for some grilled squid, so that’s where we went first. The line for it was really long and unfortunately, we were one person away when they announced that they ran out!! Great timing, huh? Anyways, there was one good thing that came out of it. Soon after they sent everyone away, the stall right next to it, which was selling tuna sashimi, announced a two for one special. YESSSS. I love sashimi.

Sashimi

Afterwards, we went to get some barbeque chicken kabobs from the Tony Romas stalls. The line for that was long too, but it was no biggy. We decided to sit on the grass in front of the stage to rest and eat. I TRIED to take a decent picture of the kabobs, but I had no patience because I was hungry. We were hungry. And I’m also a noob at photography.

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Nom nom nom. While we were enjoying our food, the fireworks show started! This caught us off-guard because this was the first year we experienced watching fireworks at the Japanese Autumn Festival. Julius was entranced by the show. He LOVES fireworks, so I’m really happy they had some this year. They said that it was for the 40th anniversary of the Japanese Club on Guam. I didn’t take any pictures of the fireworks because 1) I don’t know how 2) I just wanted to sit back and enjoy the show. (I’m gonna insert a picture of fireworks anyway because…yeah I want to set the mood for this post). It was also really romantic! Woot woot

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[I found this Fireworks picture from Google, but I tried to find the original source. Click here for the credit for this wonderful image~]

After our tummies were full and happy, we went to find dessert. Julius wanted some classic shaved ice so of course we went to get some. He chose lemon and I chose melon. Huh… I never noticed that lemon and melon had the same letters. Awesome. We got some pudding too. Yum!

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I forgot to mention that the Mikoshi, a portable shrine, was carried around a couple of times. This is an important aspect of the Japanese Autumn Festival. It’s really heavy, so a lot of people have to carry it around.

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I wasn’t really sure of the significance of the Mikoshi in the festival, so I did a little research. According to this blog, the Mikoshi is carried around so that the relationship between the kami, spirits in the Shinto faith, and the people will be strengthened. The blog also mentions that the Mikoshi acts as an “R.V.” for the kami while they venture out into the world to see what’s going on — like a kind of vacation. Interesting!

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Finally, we couldn’t leave Aki Matsuri without some toys! In the festivals, you usually see many people wear lighted toys like headbands or necklaces. Masks are very popular too. Since we came late, the only masks left were Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, but I wasn’t complaining! I’m a Disney fanatic anyway, so it was perfect.

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Lighted Toys

Man, I am totally craving for sashimi right now. Until next year, Aki Matsuri!

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