I threw on some clothes and put the equivalent of $30 in my pocket and set out.
Over at the parking lot of the public bath there were tents everywhere and a stage. On stage there was a program with people dressed up as anime characters who were fighting some monster and a woman narrating. It kind of reminded me of the play Peter Pan, audience involvement and all.
People were really excited that I was there. A lot of my students were there. The people from the Board of Education were there running the event. Akaki-san found one of my students and coerced her into showing me around. It turned out to be a lot of fun. We walked around and bought food and looked at stalls.
The fair extended into the shops on the main road in Nankan. So I went in. Almost every place I went they offered me free food, and almost all of it had natural or unnatural sugar. Ugh. I like sweets but I hadn't eaten breakfast. And the sweat bean paste they use for their traditional sweets is just unbearable after five bites. But I still had a great time.
I went home around 2 pm and had a late talk with Mom and Dad and Joe. Then I went out for the end of the festival. They did a lottery, which I didn't win. Akaki-san was very apologetic. I kept telling him it wasn't a big deal. Then they threw these traditional sweets to the crowd. I really wanted to catch one. I'm pretty sure the lady said they are good luck for the new year. I almost caught several of them.
It was near the end of the give away and I was sad I didn't have any. But I didn't give up. And I finally caught one. Yes! It was a great feeling. But as I walked away I saw a little girl about 5 years old who was holding her grandma's hand. She looked really sad. I didn't even know what I was doing when I walked up to her and held out the mochi I just caught to her. I told her to smile using gestures. She took it and her grandmother thanked me again and again.
As I walked away I had the best feeling of my life. I felt such a connection to every person and I almost cried with joy for giving the girl the mochi. I've never felt that way before, but it was fabulous.
The next week one of the people I work with at the Board of Education came up to me and thanked me for giving his granddaughter the sweets. He said she was very happy and that she remembers my name. I had met her before when I was walking around Nankan. About a year ago her mother died so she lives with her grandparents. I'll never forget that day.