August is Obon, fireworks and barbecues by stream and sea. It is also ghosts, sudden cooling downpours reminiscent of a negligent plant owner suddenly remembering to water his plants, and men in yukata... especially men in yukata.
And here I am, with my usual sense of timing, searching for places, plans and discounted tickets that would allow me to see everyone, have a bit of solo travel time, and not cost an arm and a leg... during one of the busiest travel times of the year.
Currently I am trying to figure out how to use the 3 day JR Kanto pass (which can be purchased by anyone with a non-Japanese passport, even if you have a visa!) to the best advantage, to hit up Karuizawa, perhaps Nagano, perhaps Shimoda, and then get myself to Nasu for a couple days of glorious Tochigi-ness... aah, the joy of norihoudai train tickets!
But enough of that, and onwards with yukata and festivals, specifically the Asagaya Tanabata Festival, with its crazy papier-mache constructions and flying takoyaki (ok, so the flying takoyaki were my own fault... that will teach me to ever wear white anywhere... and thank goodness I took pictures earlier!)
Once the crowding got to be too much, we escaped for a couple glasses of sangria at a strange little place called Don Tsucchi, which may well be one of the narrowest 'watalian' (Wa plus Italian) joints I have ever been in. And it turned out to be the perfect place to watch my favorite part of August stroll by (aka the afore-mentioned yukata-clad gentlemen), to the amusement of the one sitting next to me.
Because, seriously, I have yet to see a guy who doesn't suddenly get a coolness upgrade by slipping on a yukata. That is the glorious thing about national costumes, they are meant to fit and flatter the basic body type of that country. The wide sleeves broaden shoulders, obi nip in waists and hug the fabric in all the right places. Geta (for those who know how to walk in them) give a bit of a swagger. And good lord does Matcha-kun look good in wafuku... now I just have to convince him to try a hakama...