We had to make our way to the bus stop to get a ride to the Kimono Factory over in the Textile District. We were going to cut through a park when we stumbled upon a festival and parade. We ended up spending about an hour here taking in the sites and culture of this unplanned stop.
Many of the people were in traditional costumes for the parade, and our students were able to convince some of them to stop and take pictures with them.
A few of us in the group were over six feet tall. I am six foot three inches tall myself. Here is a picture of one of the student chaperones (Daniel) watching on as the parade and activities proceed. No problem with the seeing the view, as many of the Japanese are much shorter. But this proved detrimental in many others aspects of our visit to Japan. We bumped our heads numerous times in the temples and other buildings with low doorways, the beds were small, hallways tight, and in general Japan was not very tall friendly.
We sadly had to move on to make it to our appointment at the Kimono Factory. We would have loved to have stayed longer to take in all the sights of this celebration. Here’s a short video clip of this parade.
A funny thing happened on our way to the Kimono Factory. We had to take a bus to get there, as it was too far to walk (yeah, I was shocked when I heard that too). We did not know how crowded the bus would be. It was normal practice for the escort teacher and Mr. Cornwell to lead the pack with me pulling up the rear of the pack when we were out in public. While waiting for the bus, the teacher escort told me that if all of the students did not get on the bus, hop on the next bus and meet them at the factory.
As she hopped on the bus with all but five of the students, something in the back of my mind questioned if it was really going to be that easy. Almost instantly another bus pulled in behind the one pulling away. The students jumped on, the doors swung closed, and we were on our way following close behind the other bus. We went about a mile and came to an intersection. When the light changed the lead bus pulled away and our bus made a right turn and headed off in another direction. This couldn’t be a good thing, as we did not have a map or any idea of where it was we were going.
We frantically scanned the bus for a route map. Only problem was it was in Japanese and we had no idea where the kimono factory was. After a few stops and another turn we pushed the button to get off the bus. It took several blocks before the bus pulled over and let us out. Nathaniel, a student who had been to Japan before and spoke Japanese was enlisted for the rescue mission. We waved down a person on the street. Nathaniel explained our situation and asked him if he knew where the Kimono Factory was located. Thankfully he did. I pulled out my Blackberry and fired up Google Maps. We asked him to point to it on the map on our phone. After scrolling a few screens he pinpointed our destination. We asked Google Maps for directions and set out on our way after thanking him for his help. Just then my phone rang. Our escort teacher was worried we had not shown up yet, and wanted to know if we were lost. We told her that we were off track but soon to be back on track. After some discussion about staying put, and waiting for the teacher to come and get us, I got them to agree to wait 15 minutes for us to arrive by foot at our destination.
After following the directrions on Google Maps on my Blackberry to our destination we were greeted by cheers and clapping from the group as we walked up the the building about twelve minutes later. Technology did not let us down on this day. Nathaniel reminded me that without his help, the Blackberry would have been worthless (a true statement). Teamwork and technology saved the day!