This weekend was the famous Asakusa Samba Carnival. It’s been happening every year since 1981 when the mayor of Taito Ward invited the winning dance team from Brazil’s Samba Carnival to Japan. The weather for yesterday’s event was beautiful until about 3 pm when it suddenly started to pour. A lot of the spectators quickly headed for home, but the dancers seemed to love it.
It’s festival season here in Japan, and every matsuri is sure to have at least one kingyo sukui booth. Kids get plastic scoops with paper centers called a “poi” (the yellow circular things in their hands, not the bowls) and they have to use them to scoop up the goldfish. It usually costs around 300 yen a try.
There is even a National Goldfish Scooping Championship held in Yamatokoriyama City in Nara Prefecture. It was held on the 24th of August this year, and was won by Shigetaka Ishizawa in the adult’s division, who managed to scoop up an incredible 46 goldfish (most people are doing well to get just two or three). The contest’s homepage is here, but it’s in Japanese only.
If you think you might like to enter next year’s contest, Wikipedia’s article on “goldfish scooping” has this advice on technique:
-Do not chase a goldfish with the poi.It may be obvious that the paper will easily break if the player moves the poi violently in the water.Put the whole poi into the water softly and slantingly.
-Some people put only a part of it into the water, but it is not right to do. If a player does it, there will be a wet part and the other part on the paper. The boundary of them makes the paper easy to break. Also, water pressure will be greater if the player puts the poi into the water with it parallel with the water. Considering these technique, players should aim at a goldfish which is near the wall and near the surface.
-It is easier to predict the movements of a goldfish near the wall. Moreover, a goldfish has less way to escape from the poi. After a player see these technique, what the player has to do is practice. However, there is advanced technique for people who are familiar with goldfish scooping.
-Make a fixed shadow of yourself in the water.
-In general, goldfish have tendency to escape from a temporary shadow. On the other hand, they flock around a steady shadow. To take advantage of this habit of goldfish, players should be still when scooping them.
Last weekend I went to see the Tachikawa Festival. They had a children’s sumo tournament which was surprisingly entertaining. Even the elementary school kids, some as young as six were able to do some pretty fancy throws. The other cool thing was that there were no ten minute salt-throwing rituals to sit through before every match. The Tachikawa festival is held on the fourth weekend in August and the sumo tournament is held on Saturday. There are mikoshi (portable shrines) on both days.
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