Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cherry Blossom Festival~!

ALRIGHT!

I'm bringing this blog back to life! SO much has happened since that last entry, and I've had to literally keep a huge, long list of all the things I've wanted to blog about because there was no time. ;~; I semi-died during finals week with no sleep and very little food, then I graduated...somehow (yay!), then I was immediately thrust into cleaning/packing mode and finalizing degree + apartment paperwork, visiting old friends I won't see again for years, training for a physical fitness assessment, MORE packing and cleaning, and getting ready for another big life event. It was overwhelming. And then I still didn't get a break after taking care of all that, because right afterward, we loaded up the vehicles, and my Dad and I drove across the continent to my new home. ^^; I'll blog about all that later, but for noooow...

I GOT TO ATTEND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL FINALLY ON APRIL 21, 2013~!

A dream come true for me. I have a couple friends to thank for accompanying me - it was really awesome of them. ^_^ San Francisco is a crazy place, and I don't like braving it alone.

The last time I was in Japantown was 2005 for my 16th birthday.
Aaww, lil' 16 y/o me (on right)~ :3

The place has changed so much since then, it's pretty crazy. The mall is now divided into two buildings, and the landscaping's been changed up. The Kinokuniya Bookstore is now located inside of one of the branches instead of having its own building.

The festival itself went on for two weekends in April, but I was only able to attend the last Sunday it was happening, which was also when the Grand Parade took place. What an adventure~!

Before I went, I wanted a flower hairpiece to go with my yukata. Definitely wanted it to be white, sort of large, an have hanging pearls and sakura-like flowers. I think I pulled it off alright - definitely festive. :] All my materials were found at Joann Fabrics.


Luckily, it went well with the outfit!



The car ride over was uneventful UNTIL WE CROSSED THAT BRIDGE. lmao
As soon as we got onto the bridge, there was a woman in her car next to us with her window rolled down just like mine. As we were waiting in the bridge toll line, she looked over and I hear, "My, don't you look lovely!" I got a kick out of it...told her thank you before we moved on. Then, passed the toll, traffic was very slow moving, so we ended up slowly crawling next to this dude in a truck with his window rolled down ... and we're talkin'...beat up pick-up, TOTALLY redneckin' it there in SF. I try very hard not to make eye contact until, "Ain't you purdy." I just turned to my friend driving with a look like: awkwaaard... Drawing too much attention isn't my thing. It's just so ridiculous how much difference a dress can make. Earlier already that semester I'd been sexually harassed on campus, so things were still pretty uncomfortable when it came to guys looking at me.     
BUT THEEEN, once the traffic got moving again, we saw this guy in his car next to us...LITERALLY...drinking...and driving. Like, he had a mothaflippin' beer bottle to his lips...flyin' over the Bay Bridge in some clunker of a vehicle. We were just floored.

And then before we got to the parking garage, we were stopped at a red light when a homeless man...drunk as hell...peered into my open window. He made his hands into a rectangle shape like a camera in front of me, and asked, "Are you always dressed up so pretty-like?? Let me tell you I-" an then we dove off... 

WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO~



When we arrived, there was a really talented singer on stage - I was surprised at how not many were in the seats listening to her. But it WAS extremely hot out. And people were pretty preoccupied with the mall, cosplaying, and parade stuff.


Inside one of the mall branches, is a hall that looks like a traditional Japanese alleyway. I don't think it was like that last time I was there.



Pink, but WHO CARES! I got my sakura dangos ~ so good! Made one of my friends try it, and he hated it. lol It does have a very different texture/flavor than what we're used to in America - as I mentioned in my video on it a while back. This package of about 8 dango sticks was about $10... :'D Yeah...so worth it, though.


And theeeen we checked out the anime shops. ^_^ It was mostly me freaking out over the merch, one guy I was with didn't care for anime, and all the other cared about was DBZ, so I indulged mostly alone. Window shopping mostly...keep in mind I was/am very broke. Had to forego some groceries for this trip already. T.T



I loved this design - didn't like the pink, tho.

Bamboo SM poster! And Kenshin Live Action movie!


We watched the parade for only a little bit. It was slow moving, and we were hot. I couldn't BELIEVE those poor people had to march through that thing for 3 hours! They looked so miserable. Kimba was in it, too! She dressed up as Sailor Jupiter, and was featured in the anime section of the parade. I'd met her at a few conventions prior to finding out that I was classmates with a friend of hers, and another friend of hers was an admirer of my work online. Small world! Was glad she remembered me when I ran into later. :]


There was a lot of Japanese dancing and singing. Of course, brightly colored costumes. It was slightly awkward when you had the occasional white person doing these traditional Asian rituals, but hey...it's all about cultural appreciation, right? lol
I was lucky enough to find a ledge to stand on and film a bit. It was very crowded.



Saw some really pretty dishes and chopstick holders. ^^



Been wanting this type of chime. If only it wasn't pink!
Compare the below image to the one at the top when I was 16 to see some of the changes they made. :]


Taken with an iphone... ;.; I want one...
 We really hated that checker-style flooring, so I made it all one color in photoshop. ^.~

Watching the parade~





Took this photo just for the horror. xD Hello Kitty invasion!
 Story time!
So, once upon a time when I was little, there was this episode of Sailor Moon in which Usagi and Makoto were eating some kind of delicious looking pastry, and I wanted to try it SO badly.

(start at 4:30)



After digging around later in life, I learned they were called crepes - and the Japanese make a specific kind that's pretty popular. Well...at the festival, I FOUND some! They had a couple shops, but we went to the first we saw. $5 for one, I think it was...but one of the guys with me told me it was worth it. He'd been stationed in Japan and got to try them, so I took his word for it.


This guy was pro!
There's a real art to frying the batter just right.
I got one with vanilla ice cream and strawberries and whipped cream inside, but there were sooo many options, I was overwhelmed. Kiwi, bananas, peaches, blueberries, gummies, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, strawberry icecream, chocolate icecream, green tea icecream, M&Ms, chocolate chips...endless! It was a very heavy snack, though, digestively, and I had to go slow with it. No wonder Mako-chan talked about getting a stomach ache!
They made faces on them~!
Then, the window shopping continued... Can you tell what I was drawn to...? :P





Found the Kinokuniya Bookstore! That's where I bought my Japanese
version Zelda mangas before they were officially translated into English. 

Advertising for my usual con~
The flags were all at half-staff because this was very shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings happened. My friends n' I were all pretty wary of the whole thing...being in a crowded place, n' all.


Two fine gentlemen. :P


You see the straaangest things in big cities...
And I wanted to take something home with me other than the sakura dango which wouldn't last. So, what better than a sakura-themed Kenshin poster?? It was only $3!


So yeah...

I'm really, really glad I got to go before I left Cali. Great experience, and a wonderful stress reliever during that hellish last semester of college. :]

I got plenty of compliments on the yukata, and surprisingly, most were from elder Japanese women... Do you know what an honor that is?? I was so worried about wearing it right, and being respectful, so I'm really glad they liked it. ^^ 
Unfortunately, we had to walk a mile or so through a different part of town to get back to the car, and it got me more unwanted attention. 
It was so funny, though...one dude literally stopped his conversation with someone to watch me walk by. I ignored him while my friend behind me gave him a weird look back, and said, "Really dude? This wannabe Asian?" (he's asian himself, btw, referring to me) I spun around and was like, "How dare you!" But, hey, he succeeded in making the guy laugh instead of stare. ^^;;
Another guy driving by looked at me, and called, "Moshi, moshi!" ... 
= | That time I called back, "Seriously?" Moronic. 

Anyway, I gotta get to bed. Workout in the AM, followed by commissions, and hopefully more blogging. W00t~!
I am so happy to be out of school ... T___T


~Uni

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