So yesterday Giuliano and I went to JapanFest in Stone Mountain Park, GA. I had been looking forward to going to this ever since I found out about it online by chance a while back.
The first thing I began to regret was forgetting to put on any sunscreen. We arrived late so it was around 1:15-1:30 when we arrived. The sun was high in the sky and there were no clouds. I repeatedly sought out shade and tents in order to keep myself from burning. It didn’t take long before my arms began to feel warm, which I already know by now is not a good sign. I know all too well on conditions like that, my burn index is about 15 minutes in the sun. After that I begin to look like a cooked lobster.
Being my first time at this festival, I made my way first past the bonsai tent. Then we saw at a distance some kimonos hanging from a display in a large building on the top of a hill. We walked there so that I could check out the kimonos. That was one thing I had come to get, a good kimono for myself. (And if I was lucky a kimono for Giuliano.) Also maybe we could find something I could at least cover my arms with.
Well the building was packed as was this small table seller. A lot of people were looking over the t-shirts hanging and on their table. The shirts all had anime designs. I found myself soon wishing they had brought more displays to hang them from. It would have made it easier to get around.
I began to look through the kimonos, but soon realized I have no idea what size I am. I tried a few on, but they didn’t fit. I tried to find someone working at the booth and get their attention. However with it being so packed, I couldn’t get anyone’s attention. So Giuliano and I looked at the other sellers to see if someone else was selling kimonos and could help me. The only other ones I saw were much more elaborate and I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford them.
I made my way back to the first seller. By now I’m getting disheartened and a bit disgusted. I began to remember why I hate crowds. I looked through the kimonos again, frustrated that I had no idea what would fit. I just wanted someone to tell me what size they thought I was and point out the kimonos I could fit to me.
I began to snap a bit at Giuliano as he was only following me around like a lost puppy. I needed his help to flag down someone to help me. After waiting and waiting and waiting at the seller’s table, we finally got someone’s attention. We asked and she said that the kimonos were one size. I sighed. She pointed to some kimono tops on sale. I went to look through them, audibly mentioning to Giuliano how the seller needed signs saying the kimonos were one size. It would have saved me the trouble of waiting.
So I looked through the tops, but most of them were pink (ick) and light green. I really wanted a blue kimono. I tried one and surprise it didn’t fit.
Now I was to the point of crying from frustration and depression. I had imagined some kimono tent at this fest and someone to help measure you and help you into your kimono. That wasn’t happening. I looked at the other side of the display of the kimonos, and lamented again. I saw one that was blue. “That looks nice,” I said truthfully. “I bet it won’t fit either.” I took it down and started to put it on. “Just watch.” I wrapped it around me and to my surprise I could get it around me.
“That looks like it fits.” Giuliano remarked.
“Really? You don’t think it’s too small?”
“No.” Wouldn’t you know it, a saleswoman walks by then and Giuliano flags her down to ask her if that looked like it fit. She seemed to agree.
I had also noticed what looked like men’s kimonos and pulled one down when I found this blue kimono. So we asked if it was a men’s kimono and she said yes.
Well I had pestered and pleaded with Giuliano to try it on. He kept asking me why and what he would wear it for. (It’s always a pain to get him to at least humor me.) Then he said “Unless you’re going to buy it for me.”
I rolled my eyes. Giuliano at this time is short on money, and I had two large paychecks under my belt. It was my ‘duh’ look. “Yeah I’m paying for it.”
“Oh.” He smiled and put it on. *Mental groan.* He put it around himself and looked down. It looked really good.
“That looks good on you?”
“You think so?”
“REALLY good on you.”
The saleswoman straightened he kimono on Giuliano and smiled and agreed it looked great. That finally convinced him and he agreed to let me buy it for him. Finally!
We then asked if there was a sash (obi) for my kimono. She had to help someone else with a sash, so we waited. Finally as we purchases our kimonos, she got one for me. Of course I forgot to ask for a sash for Giuliano’s kimono. (I didn’t see any men’s sash’s anyway.) The sash I got I’d say is like a long scarf. (So we both need an obi at this time. I need a wider one, and Giuliano just needs one.)
Then we walked around. I asked Giuliano to see when the archery was taking place. We had just missed one. So we walked through vendors. I bought a Japanese fan. (I really needed it.) We looked at various things.
Finally we saw a tent at the Konnichiwa Club (I think it was) where they were doing your name in kanji. As Giuliano’s name is so unique, I always wanted to know how it would write out in Japanese. So we waited and finally Giuliano could ask for his name. He wrote it down and pronounced it. The woman wrote it down and explained the kanji to him. The first kanji was actually the woman’s name. (Heh.) She said the first kanji meant “long life”. However he couldn’t hear the rest. Giuliano seemed very happy. Then Giuliano asked if I wanted to go. I supposed so. I could probably find “Christine” online in kanji. So I wrote my name down and pronounced it. She slowly wrote it down and gave it to me. I thanked her heartedly. Then we made a donation to their club. Now we just have to frame those.
We then noticed it was almost time for the next archery time. We made our way and there was already a crowd. They talked about how it was done as someone demonstrated. It was beautiful to watch. I turned my head to see a man dressed up in Samurai armor. I tapped Giuliano’s arm and pointed to him. (We would later discover they were doing pictures with a Samurai at the fest. We missed out on it.) I lamented that I forgot my digital camera. My attention turned back to the archery display. I watched as each person got up and displayed their skill and art. We overheard that they have classes to teach this. Giuliano later told me he would not have the discipline to do that. I probably would as I’m very serious about my work and very focused. However I’m far from in shape and would not have the arm strength to handle that bow.
Finally we left and went to see the rest of the vendors. One tent had what I’d call geeky stuff. Computer CDs, storage tapes, displays of the inside of a cell phone, etc. Giuliano looked through all of it, as was to be expected. Nearby in another tent, they were showing an elaborate toilet with controls. Giuliano picked up a few brochures. (I know I want to replace the house toilets, but this is a bit much.)
After we finished up looking around, we decided to get some lunch. Giuliano stopped a few yards away under the hot sun to look at the booklet to see what each vendor was selling. I started baking and pleaded with Giuliano to keep moving. He still didn’t know what to get. I saw a nearby tent that was selling fudge, drinks, and some hats. I told him to figure it out as I went for the shade. I picked up a very colorful triangular-shaped hat. I had to wait as they had PC problems at the register and had to reboot. Suddenly I felt very hot. I fanned myself faster as I stood in line. No doubt about it, I was dehydrated. It was already after 4 o’clock and I hadn’t had anything to drink since I got here. Finally I got the hat and put it on. Already I began to feel a bit better.
Giuliano picked a place to get food and we got some. He slowly made his way to find some shade. I told him I’d sit on the ground if it meant having shade. I was feeling really warm. Luckily someone let us sit near them on a shaded picnic table. I took off my hat and started panting out loud. I’m sure those people thought I was strange. I was baking and probably starting to suffer from really bad dehydration. I’m lucky I didn’t pass out right then and there. I had Giuliano open for me my can of green tea. I took a long sip before I began on my food. I ate my food as if I was starving all this time. Maybe that was heat related too, trying to regain my energy. Afterward I felt a bit better.
The fest was beginning to wind down. We walked to a tent that was talking about Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan. A few people tried to talk me into taking a picture behind some cut-outs. I was not about to do that as I was still feeling tired. I looked through the tent. Then we went to the bonsai tent and the sponsor tent next to it. Giuliano filled out a form to win a trip to Japan. By that time it was after 5 and the fest was over. Before walking out, I told Giuliano that we didn’t have any gelato from that vendor. I never had gelato before. So we both got some chocolate gelato. Now I know it isn’t good to have, but again I’ve never had it before. As my boyfriend is Italian, he’s known about it while I asked about it a while back. (Making me feel uneducated.) It just goes to show that even after 6 years, I still need to immense myself in more Italian culture.
Finally we left the fest and I slowly walked back to the car. I was beginning to feel sick. Definitely not a good sign. I was completely miserable from the heat and humidity. When we got in the car, Giuliano turned up the AC. I think I drifted off a few times on the drive home. I actually do not remember some parts of the drive home and I was the navigator.
When we got back to the house, I turned on and up the AC downstairs. I sat on a chair and rested as Giuliano got me something to drink. It took me a while before I finally began to feel better.
So overall it was fun. Next time we need to find a way to bring water or buy drinks more often. At least I have a kimono now. I just need some shoes to go with it.
Later that night I put on the kimono and posed for a picture. Then I had Giuliano do the same. So here’s us in our kimonos.