In which your humble correspondent travels to Seattle, enjoys the festival, and runs errands in the Big City. (Warning – picture heavy!)
Living on the peninsula is generally a good thing… But every so often, you have to go into the Big City to do things you can’t do here. We’ve ventured there twice in recent weeks to see Ordinal Scale and Your Name. This time, rather than taking the highway, we took the ferry since the Cherry Blossom Festival is right downtown at the Seattle Center and so are the rest of our errands.
I love taking the ferry… between the scenery and the passengers, it’s a photographer’s playground. When the weather is nice, I’ve taken some spectacular images:
This was not such a day. Instead, this is what I saw:
Typically cloudy, grey Seattle day… And the tourists and other passengers weren’t doing much interesting either as they were all huddled in the cabin rather than venturing out into the cold and wet. Only photographers and other crazy people do that.
Side note: I had to go into my Facebook archives to find the first image… The original, along with about a year’s worth of work, was lost because my hard drive crashed and I’d gotten lazy about backups. Now I’m paranoid about them, as there are two kinds of people – those who have had a hard drive crash, and those who are going to.
Despite the varied idiots on the road (plus the extra load of traffic and pedestrians for the Earth Day marches) and Seattle’s crazy maze of one way streets and odd intersections… we soon arrived at Seattle Center, parked, and headed into the Festival.
One of the first things I did was try something new to me – mochi wrapped in a pickled sakura leaf. Quite tasty, though the texture was different from the mochi we’ve made at home. (Granular rather than smooth…) Through the language barrier I eventually found out they used a different type of mochi rice, and that’s all they could or would tell me.
After that, we wandered about checking out the displays…
The calligraphy display is always interesting… I love the interplay of the different kinds of inks, strokes, and paper they use. I only wish they posted translations.
Kimono and kimono fabrics.
Zoeki bonsai, which are artificial bonsai. They’re amazingly lifelike and you have to get awful close before you realize they aren’t real.
Sumi-e (ink wash) painting. I should have taken a better picture, as some of them are really incredible.
The ikebana display was, as always interesting. The flow of the curves in this arrangement caught my eye. I think it’s my favorite. (And I wish we could make it over on a Friday one year, the flowers are starting to look a little sad come Saturday.)
I also shot a weaver working on kumihimo braid – and for the second year in a row, got nothing. (In the way of a picture, had a very nice conversation though as my wife also does kumihimo and we have friends in common.)
And then: it was time for my favorite part of the festival and the real reason I was there – the taiko drummers.
Only two short clips because I didn’t have any kind of tripod or support and I wanted to enjoy… :) As it turns out Hidaka Taiko has only been around for four months, and they’re surprisingly good. One of the best I’ve ever heard. (I’d link to their homepage, only I can’t seem to find one.)
I was slightly disappointed though… The building the drummers were in normally holds some kind of art exhibit. (The photography display two years ago was stunning.) I don’t know if they didn’t have one this year, or if they cancelled it so the outdoor performances could be moved indoors because of the weather.
Then it was back over to the main building to look over the last of the exhibits…
But first, a snack and something else I hadn’t tried… Spam musubi. Quite tasty (I like Spam) except they’d used rather poor quality nori for the wrapper and it tasted kinda fish-y rather than neutral or seaweed-y.
Finally, I tried my hand at shodo (Japanese calligraphy). It didn’t turn out too well, but I didn’t expect to honestly, first time and all that. If I can find a teacher over here on the West side of the sound, I’m interested in learning/trying more. (I’m not sure I’m interested enough to spend between two and four hours getting to Seattle and back.)
And with that… we were done with the Festival. Off to running errands!
The first stop was Glazer’s Camera. Mostly I wanted to check out their remodeled store (cool, retained the essence of the old while being six times as large, which they badly needed), and I hadn’t really intended to buy anything. But this lens leapt out at me… A quick test in the store showed it to be a very nice one, and though old worked well with my (equally ancient in truth) camera. Since I had the last of a birthday gift card from my lovely wife, it ended up only costing twenty bucks with tax.
I bought it to replace two other lenses as my daily walkabout lens… There are some disadvantages (this lens is shorter and isn’t stabilized), but I won’t have to swap lenses as much and the one lens is considerably lighter than the two it replaces.
The next stop was Dick Blick Art Materials… While my wife was inside buying some colored pencils, I was outside taking a ton of pictures with my new lens. (It can take a hundred or more shots to learn to drive a new lens.) When the building was a music company back in the 90’s, the owners installed the The Electric Lady Studio Guitar in front since Jimmi Hendrix is strongly associated with Seattle. There’s occasionally talk of moving it, but it never amounts to more than talk.
Finally Uwajimaya and lunch! We love their food court… Since I’d been trying new stuff, tried a new dish at my favorite place. Rather than yakisoba noodles with teriyaki sauce, I tried udon noodles with black bean sauce… and didn’t care for either. So it goes.
After lunch, we wandered across the parking lot to the Daiso store to pick up some ramen bowls. I’m learning to make my own ramen, and none of the bowls we have are really suitable. Since we were already in Seattle… $1.25 a bowl couldn’t be beat. Afterwards, back to Uwajimaya to shop and stock up. We have some very nice Asian markets here on the peninsula, but there’s stuff they just don’t have or that’s actually cheaper in Seattle (if we’re already over there). In particular, I picked up some good miso, some good katsuobushi flakes and some good kombu. (I make my own miso soup from scratch.)
After that – back to the Ferry terminal where we hit the jackpot and were able to drive right on and were underway less than ten minutes later.
The light was much better on the way home and I took some typical touristy shots… (Mostly because I needed to work with the new lens.) In the second shot, if you look closely, there’s a bit of a rainbow. In real life it was amazing, stretching across the entire waterfront… But I couldn’t manage to capture it.
And then… home, putting stuff away, and collapsing on the couch because we were pretty tired from all the walking and standing. But since we’d had a busy week and were away from home most evenings, we had a ton of anime and other shows to catch up on so it all worked out. :)