Friday, December 3, 2010

The Seika Town Festival! せいか祭り!

Looking back through my predecessors’ stuff, it seems like the Seika festival is doomed to rain every year, or at least somewhat crummy weather. However this year bucked the trend, as visitors were treated to a beautiful fall day. Nearly 35,000 people came out to celebrate the event, which was filled with good food, lots of music performances, and fun games for kids.


Seika Global Network ran a booth again this year, where kids had got the chance to play a fun little quiz game with the questions ranging from geography, to animals, food, and even some about Christmas. The kids would pull a question from the mystery box, and if they could answer it correctly, they got a heart shaped balloon! Of course we gave them plenty of tries to get it right, and the parents may have helped out a little, but it was still great to see the kids learn something new about other countries. Of course there were quite a few funny answers, as one little boy said with absolute certainty that Santa rides a goat, and could not be persuaded otherwise.


On hand to help at the booth were volunteers from Seika Global Network, several Chinese students studying abroad in Seika and the surrounding area, and a few volunteers from a local High School who really helped out. I also got the chance to make some holiday cookies to hand out to special kids who answered the questions all by themselves. Although I woke up at 5 the morning of in order to finish them, they actually turned out to be a good idea since the balloons were so popular that we ran out early and had to start giving out the cookies instead! 


Going out to events like this, I’m reminded how many kids Seika seems to have. The Keihanna Commemorative Park was filled with families who had come out to enjoy the day together, and there were more kids than you could shake a stick at. It was also great to run into kids from the schools I had visited, who remembered me and kept coming back to play and talk about all kind of things. I like to think they came to see me and not just to get a balloon, but it was still nice either way. With all the kids around, I really feel like Seika still has a lot of room to grow. I’ve heard stories about how much the town has changed since the first CIR came here over 16 years ago (he apparently had to do a host stay, since there were no apartments available.) Already in the four months I’ve been here, a small apartment complex was built next door, and a handful of shops open up around town, in particular a ramen shop, which I visit far too much. I have no idea how much the town will grow in the rest of my time here, but it’s going to be fun finding out.