Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Japanese Celebrations at Souq Sharq (revelation: must visit Japan!)

A recently made friend (she should be starting a blog soon) and I went to the Japanese Celebrations at Souq Sharq Friday night to immerse ourselves in a little Japanese culture. We had a gala time!

To commemorate 50 years of relations with Nippon, Kuwait has been buzzing with all kinds of Japanese related activities and shows this week, like the Kendo Tournament (missed it), Japanese drums concert at Mishref (missed it, but there is a consolation!)  Gamarjobat at the Avenues (missed it *wails*).

I wasn't going to miss this.

We had a terrible time getting a parking spot and ended up in the area farthest away from the mall, in front of the fish market. Thank goodness we got a spot!

The celebrations took place outside in the crisp winter air. There were stalls selling Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza) and Japanese seafood dumplings. If you've read my Before I die list you'll understand why I stood in those immobile queues for over 20 minutes while my sweet friend (we need a name for you!) patiently waited with me. Making dumplings the Japanese way is quite a tedious process. I'm in two minds as to whether it was worth it. They tasted strange...

Okonomiyaki in cheese and seafood

First the strange dumpling maker is whisked clean

Then dumpling mix is poured in

With the filling strewn on top of each mold - cabbage,
spring onion, ginger, seafood stuff, grated carrot

Dumpling mix is poured over again
but I'm not sure if this is supposed to happen :-/
The dumplings, once they begin to take shape, are then turned manually, one by one, with a TOOTHPICK (that was the tedious part. I didn't get a picture of this)! Nobody, but nobody, can have more patience than the Japanese.
Waiting for the dumplings to turn the right shade of brown meant we'd lost the chance to get a seat on the steps for the show and I stood behind an elderly couple trying to get a good shot of the children singing Sukiyaki with my left hand, holding the cup of dumplings in my right. The guy had his arm around his wife (didn't see her face but I vividly remember the black and white pattern of her coat) and he kept trying to make eye contact with me but I was too wrapped up in the performance. But he continued doing so all through the song and when I finally turned to him about to mutter something in irritation, he pointed at my cup and then to his wife's coat, politely gesticulating what was supposed to mean, 'woman, lay off the coat'. He needn't have worried, I'm much more likely to drop stuff on myself than on other people. Unladylike? Yes, very *dies of shame*

They then sang the opening song of My Neighbour Totoro! =D I LOVE THIS SONG! Wish they'd also sung Tonari no Totoro.

A fashion show of kimonos of gorgeous hues followed. At this point, I got a seat. I missed the names of them all and a lady sitting next to me very kindly educated me a little on the exquisite dresses I had tried to take pictures of. Please correct me if my captions are wrong.

I can't remember what this one is
Formal Kimono for unmarried women.

Semi-formal kimonos for both married and unmarried women
Definitely my favourite.
This was with a square necked jacket
(she's holding it)
Informal kimono with trousers,
now worn as a school uniform

Bridal kimono
And then came the consolation I mentioned earlier.

A fusion of beats from a Japanese Taiko drum with that of the violin and saxophone. I'm not a fan of jazz music so I wasn't too keen when the sax came out, but this performance captivated me. Note the soulful playing of the violinist. I apologize for the abrupt end, it was at that point that my memory card decided it had had its fill.

Going shirtless was a big hit with the crowd!

An ear for applause
And then? The Ban Odori folk dance! The audience was asked to join in. I really wanted to but I was on the top of the steps and the place was packed.                                  

Ban Odori! This looked like so much fun!
A quick look at the stalls before leaving.

Ikebana (flower arrangements) from Tokyo

This stall had pix of the aftermath
of the earthquake
I didn't visit some of the other stalls but I stopped by the Origami one to make a crane (the bird).
A lady making a crane at the Origami stall
It's NOT as easy as it looks
There were other oddities on the table of the Origami stall like boats, boxes, shurikens (!!).. wish I'd made a shuriken instead of a crane. Although I can't really say I made a crane, the helpful lady there did most of it!

I took a shuriken home. I feel like a shinobi from Konoha ;)
(you won't get this unless you've watched Naruto)
Must visit Japan. Soon.


  1. Wish Kayo and I were there :(

  2. I know :( I thought of you and your mail a lot since I heard about all the events. No matter, we will whip up a lil celebration of our own when you get here ;)

  3. very descriptive, feels like i was almost there :P

  4. PS Shinobi is also a ninja from the gaming era of Sega, FYI. so even if i didnt watch naruto, i understand the pun

  5. I meant the word Konoha (in Naruto, it's the shinobi village he resides in), shinobi is a pretty well known word :P

  6. Wonderful description Zainab, I love your writing! Really enjoyed my time with you :) xox

  7. Thanks Sahar, eagerly awaiting your first post :)


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