Saturday was Morikami’s Lantern Festival! Which was lots of fun.
First of all, there was an accident on I-95 which delayed us immensely, in our attempt to go around it, which caused us to miss the members-only hour from 2-3pm, which we were trying to get there for. Oh well. We got there just after 3, so parking wasn’t too terrible yet.
Once we were finally inside, we decided to walk around and explore a little bit before it got too crazy. We “did the circle,” or rather walk around the garden, making our way back to the food and shops. They were selling crafts, tea, and bonsai. We could also purchase lanterns to float out on the lake later that night or tanzaku slips in memory of a loved one. We decided not to this year but we might next year. In the main fair grounds, they had the vendors, and they had games/activities set up for children to play. All very cute of course. Lanterns were strung up along the main walking paths and all in all, the atmosphere was done well.
It wouldn’t be a festival without entertainment, which they totally had. There were two main performance companies that did sets throughout the day: the Chitose Kai Japanese Folk-Dancing School/Company and Fushu Daiko, Japanese Taiko Drummers. The folk dancing was very pretty, but honestly, Fushu Daiko is freaking awesome. Man, I love Taiko drumming. We caught both of them for their first and last sets, and it was totally worth it, especially the drumming. Kass said that really made the festival for him.
They also had (mostly) Japanese food catered. Cornell Cafe, the main museum restaurant, catered food up by the museum proper and I think a BBQ catering company did the food down by the grounds. They were the ones who did our ramen, which was over-cooked and heavily-spiced. I was alright with it, or at least not letting it bother me too much. Kass on the other hand was very upset. There was also a sweet shop where we got mochi, the very first mochi I’ve actually liked too. The guava one was amazing. I dropped the mango flavored one so we went back and bought a second set. Kass also picked up some cold sake. It was alright. Later on we got dumplings from the Cafe, which were decent, but not up to their usual standards. Hazards of cooking in bulk, I guess. But seriously, Cornell Cafe is critically acclaimed (might be award winning??) and one of the best museum cafes/restaurants in the nation on a normal days, so GO EAT THERE ON A NORMAL DAY AND DO NOT JUDGE THEM BY FESTIVAL FOOD. Seriously, they’re normally awesome.
Most of the time we walked around, hung out, and tried not to get aggravated by the crowds. The problem is that normally when we go to Morikami, there are very few people there and we’re able to relax and escape for a bit. It’s kind of impossible to do that during festivals though.
After the last Taiko set, or maybe during their finale, they launched the lanterns from barges in the center of the lake. It was very pretty, even if they weren’t moving very fast. A couple did catch on fire though. Eh, no big deal. They capped the night off with a very pretty fireworks display, which Kass and I lucked out on with our spot. We watched from the other side of the park, through a perfectly located gap in the trees.
We even managed to make it quickly and safely to our car, and make it out with relative ease. Even if the food wasn’t up to our scratch, we had a wonderful time.
Fushu Daiko even has a dojo nearby and I’m thinking about signing up for classes. They’re not terribly expensive, and they even offer a trial lesson for wicked cheap. I’m going to wait a little bit before signing up though, just so we can straighten out our finances a little bit so we can allocate money appropriately.
If we saw you there, hope you had an awesome time. If not, feel free to browse my pictures, located below, and live vicariously through us.