My family and I did some fun things over the last coupe of days. Some friends of mine turned me on to the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival at Como.
I'd never been before, and considering what a hardcore Anime/Manga fan I've turned into, it seemed right up my alley. Mason LOVED the idea of being anywhere after dark. (Shawn, unfortunately, has been gearing up for an interview at work, wherein she has to apply for the job she already has. Long story.) At any rate, we set off some time after supper. We actually found a pretty good parking and admission was cheap, $8 for the both of us ($5 for adults, $3 for children.)
There wasn't a lot TO DO, per se, at the festival, but there were things to see, admire, and demonstrations to enjoy. We watched a bit of music and fan dances, admired all the kimono and cosplayers, and tried some kakigori. I was particularly excited to try kakigori, since I had written about it in my fanfic based only on wikipedia entries. I can safely say now that it is exactly as advertised -- sort of weird, yet yummy (my description of a lot of Japanese food, honestly.) We tried "ichigo" flavor because Mason was utterly enchanted that he got to say the name of the hero of BLEACH and end up with something strawberry flavored. Kakigori, btw, is shaved ice with flavoring and sweetened condensed milk poured over the top of it. It is also sometimes served with a bit of mochi and/or red bean paste. Not unlike my favorite character, I'm a HUGE fan of red bean paste, so we went with both.
We wandered around and looked at other booths. Mason got his name writen in katakana, and we checked out the Japanese language versions of Shonen Jump (though we didn't buy any, since they all contained spoilers for where Mason is in the Manga/Anime.)
Probably Mason's favorite part of the festival was watching the folks from the kaishin dojo do a kenjutsu demonstration. These were serious fan boys playing with live blades. If I were twenty, I'd have joined the dojo on the spot. But, one thing I noticed right away is how few women were in the demonstration team. In fact, there was one. Her job? To hold the ribbons on a stick while the boys cut them.
In fact, after the demo was over, I asked one of the boys handing out fliers for the dojo's open house where all the women were. "We have some," he insisted defensively. "I see one," I pointed out. "Without a sword." He had no response, so I asked, "If I signed up to your dojo, would I feel welcome?" He sniffed, "We have a women's changing room." To which I said, "That's like saying you have a women's bathroom. What I want to know is if any women are IN IT."
He walked away.
This is why I'm once again profoundly pleased that I found Kuk Sool Wan. They might not be perfect, but they have never made me feel weird being a woman who wants to hit stuff and kill people with swords. Oh, yeah, speaking of that, I sensed this gender divide might be a problem when, in a demonstration of ki, the kenjustsu head instructor was looking for volunteers from the audience and only chose big men. I piped up with, "Does it have to be dudes?" He, at least, looked at me and said, "No, honestly, attitude is more important than physical strength," and he let me join the guys trying to pull his arms apart. For the record, while we didn't pull sensei's arms apart, my side totally broke the grip of the other ALL MALE side of the tug-a-war.
Grrl power, bro. That's what I'm talking about.
The lantern lighting part of the festival was quite lovely. I sat on the grass and listened to the Anime fans next to me talking about their favorite shows, while Mason snuck up along the path for a better view of the actual ceremony. Mason was really kind of bummed when it was time to go home because he's at that age where darkness is both spooky but also REALLY COOL.
Yesterday, Shawn took the day off work to celebrate our break from quarantine to go to the Minnesota Zoo (aka "the big zoo.") We wanted to try to catch the dinosaur exhibit before it closes on September 2. What we discovered is that you have to pay EXTRA to get into see the dinos. This sort of sucks because that's no clear in any of the literature and by the time you get to the far side of the zoo where the entrance is... you've come pretty much through the whole thing and a long way. But, we coughed up the extra bucks (almost twice what it cost to do the entire Lantern Lighting Festival), and walked through. Mason, at least, found it amazingly awesome, so in that regard it was worth it.
The zoo itself was much the same as always, but Shawn hadn't been in a zillion years so a lot of it was new to her. And it's always fun to show off some of the more interesting new exibits to someone who's never experienced them. Plus, we sat through a lot of shows -- we watched the penguins getting fed, the aquarium feeding, and the bird show. Probably the favorite was the bird show because it's full of bad puns that Mason found hillarious and the flying birds really are rather spectacular.
A good time was had by all.
Today, I'm hoping to finally get back to Kuk Sool, speaking of, and promote up to my blue stripe. Did I mention I passed my test? Yep. I'm excited, but you know I always resist promotion. I don't know what's wrong with staying a yellow belt forever, but... whatever. :-)