Walking a couple miles down the river a few nights a week is our favorite evening jaunt. Sometimes Chris and I walk along the river the whole time; sometimes we branch off and seek out parks or tiny local temples, where we ring the big temple bells and look around to see if anyone’s looking at us (no one cares—everyone rings the bells).
Last night we ventured out beneath a rumble of thunder with a goal of finding a shortcut to the big sports park on the southern end of the flight line. The park had all its lights out to save electricity, but from there we heard faint strains of traditional Japanese folk music and the booming of taiko drums. We soon came upon a small stage surrounded by dancers, yakisoba stands and festival booths where you can catch goldfish. I recognized some of the ladies’ yukata, so I think we will see them again at the NAF Atsugi Bon Odori Festival in late August. My yukata may or may not fit by then; we’ll see.
Chris and I milled about for a few songs and dances, then continued down the hill toward our best guess of where the river would be. After just a block we passed a temple we found for the first time a few weeks ago; in another block we found the river. Easy! We took a fairly big circuit, but ended up pretty close to our house. The evening was crowded—lots of people rode by on bikes, hoards of kids in yukata stood on corners, adults walked home from Kozashibuya Station and families headed to or from festivals. Fireworks popped in the distance. The river swished past. A middle school student sang a slow song loudly (and rather well). Incense, the heavy smell of night flowers and river water drifted by on the damp breeze. Bolts of lightning flashed across the sky, followed by booms of thunder.
It was only 7:30pm, but already dark. Most festivals are ending early this summer to save electricity. People started to head home; so did we, walking the last few lengths of river in a light rain, then curled up on the couch by the shoji windows and listened to traffic outside hiss by in the rain. A perfect summer evening in Japan.