My first impression of Nanzan University’s Cultural Festival, which ran from October 31 through November 3, was of food. Lots and lots of Japanese-style snack food.
The second impression was of Japanese university students walking that fine, fine line between ‘I’m Japanese’ and ‘I really, really want you to buy my food’. It was almost a high pressure sales environment, but not entirely.
My first glimpse of the festival was on Friday, when I met with my friends to go to the zoo. We managed to drag ourselves away, but not before several snacks were purchased and consumed.
The food booths that were set up were pretty elaborate. Most of the booths had actual, professional quality food-making equipment, including large flat grills and the forms needed to make takoyaki. You can see the forms for making taiyaki at the booth in the above picture.
A lot of the booths (mostly run by culture clubs and sports teams) were pretty creative about advertising. There were elaborate signs, people wandering around with signs (or actual portable wares from their booth), people calling from the booth and a lot, a lot of cross-dressers. I’m told that this is traditional. I was too chicken to try and get a picture.
On Saturday, I returned, this time with host family in tow. Mini Monster spent the whole time either eating, being carried around by me (he’s too big for his parents), or hiding from 90% of the female population of the festival, who thought he was the most adorable thing there.
The festival on Saturday.
I’m told Nanzan’s festival is pretty small and comparatively boring, if you take into account nearby Nagoya and Chuo Universities. Things only had about an hour to go when we arrived and Mini Monster was already protesting at the non-kid-friendly activities. We ended up wandering around, eating everything that took our fancy and listening to the performers on the sub stage.
This sax quartet made themselves popular, both with Mini Monster and the crowd, when they revealed that their first number would be the theme from Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the new Miyazaki movie that came out this summer. Seriously, everyone in Japan can at least hum this song. Very cute movie too.
We ended the day by heading to a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, where the sushi circulates the room on a track and diners can make their selection. This particulare place had a twist I hadn’t seen before – you could order specific items that you wanted from a screen at the table (helpful if the people ahead of you kept taking all of the shrimp) and it would be sent to your table…
…by shinkansen train.
Luckily, my dad is currently winging his way to Japan, so I can tell you that I’m planning on dragging him here and trying some sushi.