Ever wondered what it’s like to experience one of the biggest annual celebrations in Japan? Well, grab your yukata and geta sandals, because you’re about to spend a day with Kozu at the Awa Odori, the largest dance festival in the country. Every year, over a million people flock to Tokushima Prefecture for two days of singing, dancing, and reveling. As one of the biggest summer highlights, the Awa Odori Festival attracts visitors from all over Japan and the world.
For the locals, it’s a chance to showcase their pride in Tokushima’s history and culture. For you, it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the energy, colors, and joy of this special event. So lose yourself in the rhythmic beats of the live music, the stomping of feet, and the swirling of yukata robes. Fill up on local delicacies like sudachi lemons, awa odori soba noodles, and shaved ice. And don’t forget to join in – after a drink or two of the festival’s namesake awa odori sake, you’ll be dancing the night away along with all the other festival-goers. A once-in-a-lifetime experience? Definitely. An unforgettable day with Kozu? You bet!
Introducing Kozu and His 10k Celebration
Kozu loves celebrating milestones, and his 10,000th day of life was no exception. For this special ten-thousand day or ’10k’ celebration, as Kozu called it, he planned an action-packed 24 hours to commemorate the occasion in style.
To start the day, Kozu woke up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. After descending, he enjoyed a traditional Japanese breakfast of grilled fish, rice, miso soup and green tea.
In the afternoon, Kozu visited his favorite samurai castle, Osaka Castle, to learn about its history and architecture. He then explored the vibrant Dotonbori district, sampling delicious street food like takoyaki octopus balls and okonomiyaki savory pancakes along the way.
As night fell, Kozu took in the dazzling neon lights of Osaka from the towering Umeda Sky Building’s Floating Garden Observatory. To cap off the celebrations, he indulged in a lavish multi-course kaiseki meal made from the freshest seasonal ingredients by a renowned Michelin-starred chef.
Exhausted but content, Kozu returned home late that evening, happy to have packed so many memorable experiences into his 10,000th day. He was already looking forward to the next milestone and dreaming up exciting adventures to embark on for his 20,000th day celebration in a few decades’ time!
Kozu’s whirlwind 10k day exploring Japanese culture, cuisine and natural scenery showcased what an eventful and rewarding life he leads. May we all be so fortunate to pursue our passions and share such moments of joy with good company. Kanpai to the next 10,000 days!
Waking Up and Getting Ready for the Big Day
The big day is finally here! Time to rise and shine for the celebration.
- Wake up around 6 AM to get ready. Take a quick shower to refresh yourself and get dressed in your yukata. Don’t forget to put on tabi socks and zori sandals.
- Have a light breakfast of tamagoyaki, grilled fish, miso soup and rice. You’ll be doing a lot of walking today, so fuel up but don’t overeat.
- Do your hair and makeup. For women, a traditional updo with kanzashi hairpins is popular. For men, a short, simple hairstyle is typical. Light, natural-looking makeup for women completes the look.
- Gather everything you need for the day like a fan, handkerchief, coin purse and a small towel. Don’t carry too much in your pockets or you’ll ruin the line of your yukata.
- Head out the door around 8 AM. Walk, bike or take public transit to the shrine or area where the celebration will be held. Soak in the festive atmosphere as more people in colorful yukata and jinbei summer kimonos start appearing.
- Find a good spot to watch one of the many traditional performances like Awa Odori dance, Taiko drumming or Yosakoi dance. Don’t be afraid to join in if you want! There are also food stalls, game booths and artisan crafts to enjoy.
- As night falls, find a place to watch the spectacular fireworks show. The bright flowers blooming in the night sky are the perfect ending to a fun, cultural experience you’ll never forget. What an amazing day celebrating all things Japanese!
Eating a Traditional Japanese Breakfast
A traditional Japanese breakfast is a must when visiting Japan. Start your day like the locals with a hearty yet healthy meal that provides sustenance for an active day of sightseeing.
A typical Japanese breakfast spread includes:
- Steamed rice – The base of the meal. Short-grain white rice is most common.
- Miso soup – A savory soup made from dashi stock and miso paste. Often contains tofu, seaweed and green onions.
- Grilled fish – Salmon, mackerel or yellowtail are popular. Grilled and seasoned with just a touch of salt.
- Tamagoyaki – Thin layers of egg cooked in a pan and rolled up. A bit sweet, with a texture similar to crepes.
- Natto – Fermented soybeans with a sticky, stringy texture and strong flavor. An acquired taste but packed with protein.
- Pickled vegetables – Daikon radish, cucumber, cabbage and more pickled in rice vinegar. Tart, crunchy and helps with digestion.
- Fresh fruit – Melon, grapes or citrus provide a sweet finish to the meal.
When eating a traditional Japanese breakfast, keep the following etiquette in mind:
• Use chopsticks and a spoon for the rice and soup. Practice your chopstick skills before visiting Japan!
• Do not stick chopsticks upright in your rice. This resembles incense sticks used for funeral rites. Place chopsticks on the chopstick rest or holder provided.
• Slurping noodles or making loud noises while eating is considered a sign you are enjoying the meal. But slurp quietly and without splashing broth.
• If offered a new dish, it is polite to say “Itadakimasu” (“I will humbly receive”) before eating. Express thanks by saying “Gochisosama deshita” (“It was a feast”) at the end of the meal.
• Do not overindulge. Eat until you are about 80% full since more dishes may be served. It is better to leave a few bites on your plate rather than overeating.
• Do not pass food from one pair of chopsticks to another. This is considered unhygienic. Use serving utensils instead.
A traditional Japanese breakfast is a cultural experience to be savored. Eating in a calm, unhurried manner will allow you to start your day feeling refreshed and ready to explore more of what Japan has to offer.
Visiting a Shrine for Good Luck
Visiting a shrine is an important part of any traditional Japanese celebration. On your day with Kozu, make sure to stop by a shrine to pray for good fortune in the new year.
Finding a Shrine
There are shrines of all sizes throughout Japan, from small neighborhood shrines to large, famous ones. Ask Kozu for recommendations on a shrine in the area that is popular for hatsumode, or first shrine visit of the new year. Some well-known shrines, like Meiji Jingu in Tokyo or Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, may be very crowded on New Year’s Day. A smaller local shrine is a great option if you want to avoid big crowds.
When you arrive at the shrine, you’ll see the torii gate at the entrance and the shaden, or main hall. There will likely be many people milling about, some in traditional kimono. Take a moment to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere.
Before praying, purify yourself at the temizuya, the water pavilion. Use the ladle to pour water over your hands, then rinse your mouth with a sip of water. This symbolic act will cleanse you before approaching the kami, or Shinto deities.
Making an Offering
Next, go to the saisen-bako, the offering box, and throw in some coins as an offering. Even small change is appreciated. Then proceed to the haiden, or hall of worship. Here you’ll find the kamidana, or altar, where the kami reside.
Praying for Good Fortune
Bow deeply twice, clap your hands twice, and hold your hands together to pray. Close your eyes and make a wish for health, happiness and prosperity in the new year. You can also buy an ema, a wooden plaque, and write your wish or prayer on it to leave at the shrine. The kami will receive your prayers and bless you and your loved ones.
Visiting the shrine with Kozu to pray for an auspicious start to the year is a meaningful way to gain good fortune. Make the most of this opportunity to experience an important Japanese tradition with your friend. The kami will surely smile upon you!
Shopping at the Market for Ingredients
Now that you have the ingredients list from Kozu, it’s time to head to the local market to shop for everything you need to make the perfect dashi stock and simmered dishes. The open-air market near Kozu’s home is bustling with vendors selling fresh seafood, produce, rice, and other staples. Take your time wandering the aisles and soaking in the atmosphere.
You’ll want to start by picking out kombu, the dried kelp seaweed that forms the base of dashi. Look for plump, olive green kombu sheets. Next, grab a few dried shiitake mushrooms and a small bag of bonito fish flakes. These, along with the kombu, will provide tons of savory umami flavor to your dashi.
For the simmered dishes, choose an array of root vegetables like daikon radish, lotus root, and taro root. Pick up some broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers and bean sprouts as well. Don’t forget eggs, tofu, and mushrooms. Select a variety of fresh seafood such as salmon, cod, shrimp, and squid. You’ll also want rice, mirin (sweet rice wine), soy sauce, sesame oil, chili peppers and fresh ginger to season everything.
With your market bags full, head to Kozu’s home to start cooking! The ingredients you gathered are bursting with flavors and textures that will make the dashi stock and nimono (simmered dishes) unforgettable. Kozu’s 10k celebration meal is sure to be the perfect balance of tradition and innovation, just like Kozu herself. Enjoy this special day immersed in Japanese culture, cuisine and community.
Cooking a Special 10k Celebration Meal
Cooking a special 10k celebration meal is a great way to make the day even more memorable. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Ingredients to Have on Hand
Make sure you have some staple Japanese ingredients:
-Short or medium grain rice (like sushi rice)
-Mirin (sweet rice wine)
-Bonito or dashi flakes (for making dashi stock)
-Miso paste (red or white)
-Fresh or frozen edamame
-Nori seaweed sheets
-Wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste)
Some classic, crowd-pleasing dishes to consider:
-Chirashi sushi: Scattered sushi rice topped with raw fish, egg, avocado and veggies. Simply arrange ingredients over sushi rice in a bowl.
-Gyoza: Pan-fried dumplings usually filled with ground pork and cabbage. Serve with soy-vinegar dipping sauce.
-Yakitori: Grilled chicken skewers. Marinate bite-sized chicken pieces in soy sauce, sugar and sake, then grill.
-Miso soup: Hearty soup made from dashi stock and miso paste. Add tofu, seaweed and green onions. Comforting and nourishing.
-Edamame: Boiled and salted soybeans. A perfect snack to nibble with drinks.
-Matcha green tea: Bitter green tea powder whisked into a frothy drink. Refreshing and contains caffeine.
Arrange the dishes attractively on platters to share. Include small plates and chopsticks for each person. Play some traditional Japanese music for ambiance. Most importantly, relax and soak in this milestone accomplishment surrounded by people who support you! A perfect end to your 10k celebration day.
Enjoying Traditional Japanese Foods and Sake
Enjoying Traditional Japanese Foods and Sake
When in Japan, do as the Japanese do—eat! A big part of any Japanese celebration is enjoying traditional cuisine and drink. For your day with Kozu, you’ll experience many classic dishes and get a taste of different sakes from the region.
- Start your day with a traditional Japanese breakfast, which may include grilled fish, tamago yaki (fried egg), miso soup, rice, and pickled vegetables. The protein and savory side dishes provide energy for the long day of festivities ahead.
- For lunch, tuck into donburi, a big bowl of rice topped with meat, fish or vegetables. Kozu may take you to a shop specializing in beef curry rice, chicken katsu curry or unadon (grilled eel). The flavors are rich yet balanced.
- In the afternoon, snack on dango, chewy rice dumplings served with sweet azuki bean paste. Or sample imagawayaki, fried pancakes filled with the same red bean paste. The slight sweetness will boost your energy without spoiling your appetite.
- For dinner, you may enjoy a kaiseki meal, a multi-course feast reflecting the season’s finest ingredients. Dishes include sashimi, grilled fish, braised vegetables, and a light broth to cleanse the palate between courses. This culinary experience engages all your senses.
- To accompany your meal, sample different sakes from local breweries. Learn the distinctions between honjozo (slightly polished rice), junmai (pure rice), and daiginjo (highly polished rice) sakes. With its mild, mellow flavor and slightly acidic finish, sake is the perfect complement to traditional Japanese fare.
- End your evening enjoying wagashi, a variety of traditional confections made of mochi (pounded sticky rice), red bean paste and fresh fruit. The light, subtly sweet treats provide a satisfying finish to a perfect day immersed in Japanese culture, cuisine and community.
Relaxing at an Onsen Hot Spring
After a long day of celebrations, nothing is more relaxing than soaking in the steaming waters of a traditional Japanese onsen. An onsen is a hot spring bathhouse where you can soak away your cares in mineral-rich geothermal waters.
Finding an Onsen
Onsens are located throughout Japan, especially in volcanic regions. Many resort towns and ryokans (traditional inns) offer onsen for their guests. Some onsens are open to the public for a small fee. Look for signs that say “onsen” or “hot spring bath”.
There are a few rules to keep in mind when visiting an onsen:
- Bathe nude. Swimsuits are not allowed since the onsen is meant for relaxation and cleansing.
- Rinse off before entering the bath. Shower to wash yourself thoroughly before stepping into the communal bath.
- Do not put towels in the bathwater. Place towels on the side of the bath or in the changing room.
- Be quiet and avoid splashing others. Keep your voice down to a whisper to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.
- Do not wash clothes or shave in the bath. Only bathe yourself in the onsen waters.
- Tattoos are traditionally prohibited. Some onsens refuse entry to people with tattoos due to their association with organized crime. Check the policy in advance.
Relaxing in the Onsen
Once you enter the hot spring bath, find a spot and slowly ease yourself into the steaming water. Allow your body to adjust to the heat and soak in the mineral-infused water. Rotate between the varying baths which can include open-air baths, saunas, cold baths and private baths. Spend at least 15-30 minutes soaking to gain the health benefits. As you soak, feel your muscles relax and your stress melt away. A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Reflecting on Reaching 10k and Looking Ahead to the Future
Reaching 10,000 lifetime words in your writing journey is an incredible milestone. Looking back, you’ve come such a long way from when you first started writing and publishing your work. All the time, effort and dedication it took to reach this point is truly something to be proud of.
Celebrating Your Achievement
Take some time to celebrate this win. Do something special for yourself like going out for dinner, seeing a movie you’ve been wanting to watch, or simply relaxing at home. You deserve to commemorate this achievement in your own way. Share the news with friends and family who have supported you along the way. Let them know how much their encouragement and motivation has meant to you.
Looking Towards the Next Goal
While it’s important to celebrate reaching 10,000 words, don’t rest on your laurels. Set your sights on the next target, whether it’s 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000 words and beyond. Think about ways you can continue to improve and expand your writing through:
-Writing more frequently. Try for 3 to 4 times a week if you can. Consistency is key.
-Exploring new topics or genres. Push yourself outside your comfort zone. If you normally write fiction, try a personal essay. If you’re used to writing long-form, experiment with flash fiction or poetry.
-Developing an online platform. Start a website or blog to share your writing. Build your social media profiles and online presence. Engage with readers and other writers.
-Continuing education. Take an online writing course or join a local writing group. Stay up-to-date with trends in the publishing industry. Always keep learning and honing your craft.
The road to 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 words may be long, but if you’ve reached 10,000, you have what it takes to get there. Stay dedicated, keep writing and continue moving forward. The future is bright and filled with infinite possibilities. Congratulations again on your amazing achievement. Here’s to the next 10,000 words and beyond!
And there you have it, a day celebrating the Japanese Bon Festival in true cultural immersion style. Between the colorful decorations, traditional dances, delicious food, and lively festival atmosphere, Kozu sure knows how to throw a party. Even though the day flew by, the memories you made and experiences you gained will stay with you. If you ever get the chance to visit Japan during Obon again, do yourself a favor and head to Kozu. The friendly locals, rich history, and vibrant traditions are worth experiencing at least once in your life. Until next time, Kozu! Thanks for the unforgettable adventure.