Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The best of Japan's fireworks festivals, discussed over pasta and a carrot cake for lunch at the Tokyo American Club


In Tokyo today, living a Travelife, I had lunch at the Tokyo American Club with my friend Y.

I'd been so busy this morning, having just returned from a weekend in Copenhagen, and preparing for the arrival of a large group of friends from Manila in a few days for a super luxe trip to end all luxe trips.



And then there's also someone's 50th birthday party in a few weeks.

Plus the need to finalise so many things in other's people's Travelife and in my own Travelife all at the same time.

IT'S A NEVER-ENDING TRAVELIFE

Remembering a nice holiday in Morocco last June,
living a Travelife...

This morning, I was doing an itinerary for Morocco, checking luxury hotels and menus at Michelin-rated restaurants all over the Czech Republic, researching an old heritage home in Tokyo, and booking the best restaurant in Greece for dinner.

I was also finalizing a molecular gastronomy dinner in Tokyo and trying to get a heritage hotel in Japan to look for Jose Rizal's signature in a guest book so I could show my friends when we went over there for lunch.

Yes, it's a never-ending Travelife.


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TRAVELIFE WITH US

MOROCCO




LUNCH AT THE TOKYO AMERICAN CLUB

Then at 1 PM I was at the Tokyo American Club to meet Y for a catch-up lunch.

She's spending every weekend of summer chasing fireworks festivals all over Japan.

Plus, she'd just bought a very big vacation house in the posh Kahala neighbourhood of Hawaii, which she was now planning to redecorate.


As for me, there's always something interesting to talk about, in my never-ending Travelife.

So there was much to catch up on today, over pasta and half a slice of carrot cake.

CANCELLING THE STEAK

I'd been thinking about a big juicy steak for lunch all morning, actually. But then Y was very good about calories, and this made me positively guilty.

She ordered a hamburger and left the hamburger bun on her plate.


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TRAVELIFE WITH US


SOUTH AFRICA


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So I became similarly inspired to eat a less fattening lunch. I chucked the plans for a steak and ordered a pasta instead.

Of course, this wasn't exactly a step in the right direction, but pasta was the other thing I'd been craving for all week.

THE JOYS OF FIREWORKS FESTIVALS



I was very interested in the low-down on Japan's summer fireworks festivals as Y is positively fanatic about summer fireworks festivals and knows everything there is on this topic.

Meanwhile, this is actually one area of Japanese culture I don't know much about, as I have very little patience with crowds, long lines, interminable waits and so-so festival food.

But Y says all these are worth it, especially if you are able to go to a really good fireworks festival.

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SUMMER AND FIREWORKS 
GO TOGETHER IN JAPAN

They have fireworks festivals all over Japan every summer, you see, so you can really spend all your time going from place to place for a fireworks high.

I asked her: "So which is the best one in Japan?"

THE BEST FIREWORKS IN JAPAN


Y didn't even have to think about the answer.

Without hesitating, she replied: "Akita. Akita has the best festival. The finale, with fireworks going on for kilometres, really gives you goose bumps, and this is why we've been going for eight years."

Wow.


THE HOTEL SITUATION



I asked her: "How are the hotels over there?"

You generally have to stay overnight in Akita if you want to watch the fireworks, and Akita is a pretty basic town.

Unfortunately, I'm very picky about hotels. This is something almost non-negotiable for me.  

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Y made a face to indicate I had better wait a couple of years until a luxury ryokan chain decides to build something in Akita. As for her, she's fine with these hotels.

She said: "They're simple and small but they're clean. We just get back from the fireworks, go to sleep, and then leave the next day."

OPTIONS IN A NEVER-ENDING TRAVELIFE



I said to her: "Hmm. Maybe I'll get there on a yacht instead."

She replied, quite helpfully: "Or you could go quickly by helicopter and fly out again..."

Both options sounded a little over-the-top, actually, even for a never-ending Travelife -- especially since everyone else takes the train and lines up dutifully with the crowds.

But we certainly can dream, can't we?

JAPAN'S TOP 
SUMMER FIREWORKS FESTIVALS

Omagari Fireworks
Akita Prefecture

Lake Toya Fireworks
Hokkaido Prefecture

Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition
Ibaraki Prefecture

Sumida River Fireworks Festival
Tokyo

Nagaoka Festival Fireworks
Niigata Prefecture

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