Another sketch: a little Japanese story


Yes, sketching a favourite bag was on the sketch list for April. I didn’t feel that motivated to sketch such an object but changed my mind later in the day when I came across my green bag. It is a made of soft leather; body and handle, and is different from other handbags, having a contrasting colour inside and a drawstring to pull it closed. It comes with a little story.

Kerry and I were on a return trip to Japan to visit friends who lived in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu. We settled into our a hotel the first evening; the entrance was inside a shopping arcade. It was quiet and restful, with a super restaurant on the ground floor. We were due to meet our friends the next day, and sat enjoying breakfast in the restaurant when we were practically thrown from our seats. “What on earth’s going on?” we asked staff, as people thronged past the windows in costume, thumping drums. Yelling. We waited until our friends arrived in the arcade. They laughed. Hugged us. And explained that this was a special day for Kumamoto, The Great Festival of the Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine.  Or the Fujisaki Hachimangu Horse Festival.

horses Kumamoto

The Great Festival of the Fujisaki Hachimangu shrine.

Oh yes, there were horses. Galore! Clomping on cobbles, adorned rakishly, hooves slipping on the road. The noise was speech-drowning as colourful troupes of adults, children and even babies jostled behind a chosen horse; waving flags, singing, shouting, as the passage of humans and horses went on, and on, and on. We jostled through the arcade to catch different views of the passing parade, and as we passed a handbag shop I stopped. For there, resplendent in the window sat a little green bag. “Go, go in,” prompted Kerry, although no prompting was necessary.

Castle Kumamoto

Kumamoto-jo (originally built 1467)

But me, doing what I normally do when spotting a gorgeous item I love, I refrain from buying it immediately, thinking is this a need or a want? So, I walked out the door with Kerry and joined the melee once more. We also visited the fabulous Kumamoto castle a walking distance from the hotel, and ate terrific Japanese food in a fancy fish restaurant. But, every time we walked back through the arcade to our hotel, I noted the green bag in the window. “For goodness sakes, just get it,” my husband implored. I responded, as I also have a habit of doing: “If it’s still there on our last day, I will.” And I did.

Every time I use the bag I am taken back to Kumamoto and think of my friends Mutsuko, her husband Atsuhiro, their little girl Iori, and the raucous festival that took my breath away.

4 thoughts on “Another sketch: a little Japanese story

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