Aioi Peron Festival

Aioi is a small town. It has a Shinkansen station and about 10 ALTs living there. There are two izakayas and a supermarket. I once met a couple of tourists at the train station; they were there to change trains. This weekend was an opportunity for a revolution. For two days Aioi performed the trick that most towns will do once a year in abid to keep its name famous and its little shops in business; it put on a festival. The Peron festival is a two day event. Saturday has fireworks in the evening (one of the largest in the area I’m told) and on Sunday there’s boat racing. It also includes numerous stalls selling everything from takoyaki to toy guns. Toy guns seemed especially popular this year with the kids, who were having running street battles through the crowds. The locals put on performances and so there were dances, marching bands andmy personal favorite, an 80s rock band who had somehow survived into old age andinsisted on continuing performing in their tight snakeskin trousers. Cowabunga As for theALTs who went. Firstly thank you. An afternoon barbeque in the sun at our local parkwas a great way to spend the day and I’m sorry for losing a football to the local river (you know who you are).The one problem with living where you are partying is when your students livethere too. After several hours of drinking, it was time to head down through the town tothe fireworks display on the waterfront. The only thing that lay between me and my goal were dozens of my students and their judging parents. If I could blend into the crowd allwould be good. But as a six-foot-three foreigner, this is a little tricky. Sunday was the day of the boat races. They are called dragon boats, but sadly they are somewhat less exciting than they sound. They are not fire-breathing battleships butinstead colorful longboats, powered by a score of determined rowers, a drummer and a gong-banger to keep rhythm and one man on every boat who’s job it was to waft a stickback and forth in the air. Perhaps to keep the dragon spirits appeased. The main event reminded me of watching my first baseball game. The initial excitement of seeing something new is soon distilled by the knowledge that not muchhappens, the thing that does happen happens again and again, and that the whole thing goes on for hours. This depression is soon relieved through the liberal application of sugary foods and beer, and suddenly the whole event is exciting again.

The Aioi Peron festival takes place yearly at the end of May. Check the Aioi City website for more info…


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