Sunday, October 10, 2010

Korea-Japan Festival 2010

We all know Korea and Japan have a long and brutal history together. Even today there is still a lot of deep tension between the two nations. But in recent years the Korean ministry of culture and tourism have tried to present a friendlier image between the two nations. One of the ways seems to be this annual festival. This year the Korea-Japan Festival took place in Jongno at the Seoul Plaza and near the Cheongye stream.

Although I was super tired when I went and it ended up raining on me (I had no umbrella) I tried to make the most of it.

I made my way to the Cheongye Plaza stage, but since I was early it seemed like there were just rehearsals going on.

Actually, to tell you the truth I had realized when I got there that I had forgotten to take my wallet. Before I left that morning I switched purses from my small one to my big one and somehow remembered my camera, iPod and phone but not my wallet. So there I was thinking, that there was no way I was going to be able to eat or get something to drink. I didn't worry too much about the eating part since I was meeting JH afterwards, but the missing water part got to me. I hate getting dehydrated.

That is why I will commend Seoul for being accommodating in this situation. At first I looked for free water bottle handouts, that I thought the festival might provide. Yet, I didn't see anyone giving out such things. Then as I was walking towards the Seoul Plaza I saw a tourist information booth and saw that inside they had a water fountain. I stopped by for a couple of cups.

It is something you may not know but you can actually find free water in this way. If I were to go into a building I might also be able to locate their water fountains as well. At one point I managed to get hold of a paper cup and held on to it.

Moving on, I made my way to the Seoul Plaza. In fact, this was my first time going to this place. I always just saw it pass by me while riding the bus. Nowadays at the entrance area there is this picture theme going on, which has people put up randomly to look like they are holding hands.
The Plaza itself was buzzing here and there with people checking out the booths. Nothing was happening yet on the stage and I approached some tables with a crowd around it.
One could have taken part in origami folding or trying on a kimono.

Apparently, these tables were set up for a cold-noodle eating contest. I arrived as the participants were waiting and the staff or volunteers were busy setting it up.
I figured something would happen in a while, so I walked around the other booths as I waited. There were a lot of tourist booths set up representing different districts of Japan.

I came back to the tables and things were getting on their way. The participants lined up in front of the noodles and the countdown began. The next thing you knew people were quickly eating.

Afterward there was a lot of counting and then celebration. As this went on a few older folks who were a part of the watching crowd walked over to the tables and helped themselves to the left overs. This one older lady helped herself to the noodles and at the same time kept on repeating "delicious" (in Korean). It was a kind of funny site because the people around her knew that it was meant for the contest. But no one said anything to her. One couple laughed quietly together as she walked away.
Things looked like they were pretty much over at this part so I turned around. I saw a group of performers making their way to the stage area.
I waited a little bit more and then the performances got under way. First it was a performance of biwa (short-neck lute). I enjoyed watching, but the rain started to come down. I stuck it out to get some videos taken.

Enjoy the following very short video. I say "short" because the rain, plus having no money and feeling gunshot tired made me realize I should be moving on. Of course I wish I saw the rest of the show. Guess I will have to try and be more prepared for next year.

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