Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sunday at the LA Tofu Festival

Having downloaded all the photos SeanYoda & myself took at the LA Tofu festival on Sunday, I realize I'll be *wading* through a lot of images. The tofu fest was fantastic and the food was all really great. We don't have nearly as many images from the fest as we do from the Nisei Week Parade. So the tofu fest may get edited and posted first.. although I still have Sunday August 6th images to edit from our choco factory tour at ScharfenBerger to still edit.. as well create the icons and html page for the entire weekend in the bay weekend. =P

Sunday Morning
Starting from the beginning though: it was a long Sunday.. We meant to start the day early and get our laundry done. We drove by the 'regular' place to see what time they opened (7am Sunday) to do our laundry. Well, by the time we got up, got cleaned up & the car packed for the wash we got there at 730am or so.. the place was packed! Yikes! So we did about half the laundry (which was plenty as it was) and got breakfast and the Sunday paper and finished by 10am I want to say.

We were thinking the Tofu festival started at 2pm but it was actually Noon to 6pm. We had planned to go the day before but Sean had to work and didn't get done til 7pm the day before.. much too late to attend Saturday. Sunday was alright though. Like I said it was a full day!

We drove around a while and found they had designated parking locations for the festival which were a flat rate of $4 the entire day. We walked around Little Tokyo trying to find the fest, meandering through the Sunday booths set up selling jewelry, tees and other neat little things.. (darn you Totoro and your cuteness!) We stood in a short multi-lined queu to pay admission to the Tofu fest and cursing the location silently because it wasn't the smartest place to have folks queuing up.. the lines extended into a pedestrian crossing where the cross-street was open to traffic. One of the Festival volunteers suggested we head to the 'other side' where there was only one line.. which seemed odd but the reason there was only one line is that it snaked it's way up the side of the outer wall of the festival. It went pretty quick however, and we got to the front pretty quick, which is where the line became perhaps 6 smaller admission queues.

Thank You!
At this point I want to be sure and thank the very kind stranger who offered Sean & myself one of her 'free admission' tickets that she brought with her to the festival. Sean & I had attempted to print up one of those discount admission tickets a couple days before and that's when we realized that hey! my printer really is busted, (which is weird as it won't print the type but it'll print the image I posted of one of our cats to my private journal). The young woman had no idea about any of this, she just asked if we would like her extra 'free admit' coupon. How nice is that? Anyway I really do appreciate it. The $ we saved on my admission was used on other stuff like more food ticket scrip. =P

There was a lot going on at the festival. More than I can possibly put down in words and remember. I'm thinking SeanYoda will have to do his own trip report and we'll combine them at some point when we get the images up. There's just too much to remember! =) They had a 'beer garden' as well several festival tents set up. There was a Morimoto demo & book signing. The Morimoto's demo & talk was already full by the time we got in the queue to get in at around 1230ish.. That would have been neat. He's pretty cool (although honestly I used to cheer when the Iron Chef would lose against these unknowns on the original Iron Chef.. now I just cheer when Bobby Flay loses.. he bugs me which is weird. I don't know any of these people). Anyway, there was still plenty to do without being able to get in on the chef demos and discussions and plenty of food (free and otherwise) to try. We spent about $30 on food and drinks. Sean & I tried a couple of the tofu dishes at the Lee Kum Kee booth as well a couple of the snowcones. Sean had the rainbow & I had green tea. Which was good.. but I think I would have liked the strawberry even better (which was the side of the rainbow flavor I tried off Sean's) The green tea took a while to soak up into the ice and after trying a few nibbles from it I was thinking I would have liked it even more with a little of the milk (I'm assuming it would have been soy?) which I wasn't sure I wanted before trying it without. I love soymilk, btw.. so that would have been a good match!

Sean & I checked out & ate our food near the big stage, (there wasn't a lot of seating left in the festival tents or beer garden)That was ok, because there were these two kids going over what they had on schedule for the day and there was barely an audience for them.. which meant seats for us! (plenty) After we ate we walked around some more.. that's when we got the snowcones which people would stop Sean and ask us where we got it.. and then we checked out the anime tent which was nice & shady.

Anime Pavilion
There were 4 flatscreens set up back to back hanging from above showing different episodes of "Initial D" which was from what I could tell a racing series. We saw parts of a couple different episodes and from out of order so I can't say which ones we saw. All I know is I kind of choked on my snowcone because they don't have a rating warning about the 'bath scene' in the episode we were watching, when SeanYoda says "I thought they said the festival was kid friendly??" or something like that. I figure that it's anime and that most folks who would attend the tofu fest and hang out in the anime pavillion would expect anything. It was funny though because I kept hoping that our friends C&J would have been there with us. C's party we watched anime videos projected on the wall of his apartment building and this was sort of the same thing. The episodes themselves I really didn't keep up with.

Every hour they had a raffle and this guy came around with a bucket and some slips of paper to write our name on and stick in for the drawing. We ended up staying around a little longer after we finished because of this. We had no idea what the prize was. I kind of was getting a little antsy to get a move on because I was missing the Taiko drummers at one point that were taking the mainstage. The neat thing about hanging out at the Pavillion is that we got to see & chat with Franklin Ave's Mike & Maria a little bit (I sounded like an idiot as usual but whatever). I still didn't know if they remembered us from before at Coles PE meetup or not. I'm the stupid half of the i5nomads I wanted to say.. LOL) which was totally cool. They are really super nice people,(that's a compliment). If they didn't remember us well I could totally understand that.. I don't make a habit to try & freak people out, not on purpose anyway! sigh.. moving on.

The "Initial D" folks had this car that looked like it was based on one of the racers but Sean said no.. but it was kind of um, used-looking so hopefully that wasn't the raffle prize I joked to another stranger who sat down next to us asking what the prize was. Sean didn't know what the prize was either. Thankfully it was something manageable like "Initial D" dvd, or a messenger bag (wow! that would have been perfect for me! I told Sean & he agreed) or um.. what was the last thing.. I forget. Anyway, we didn't win and the names got dumped into the trash. Good thing I didn't put anything like our phone number or something stupid on it. =P Sean said he saw some slips of paper that that only had first names on it.. so what happens if someone named Sean won one of the prizes.. would someone have to arm wrestle SeanYoda for it? (kidding). You had to be present to win so once that hours raffles were over it was over. They had more prizes every hour but then you'd be missing out on a lot of cool Tofu fest activities.. I reminded Sean later "netflix!" =) He liked the anime though. It put him in the zone or something. *snerk* ;P

Toyota Yaris Pavilion (or not)
Ok.. so Saturday I guess there was the Toyota Yaris pavillion. I would have liked to have seen that! I'm one of these Scion Xb wanting people (nevermind that I don't have the $ for a car) but I'm driving Sean nuts I'm sure with my faux drooling & coveting of the Xb's. (SeanYoda has wanted a Prius, but that's kind of much, although it would be ideal I agree. Xb despite NOT getting 50mpg the Prius gets,would still be neat for me because I want the space for the Ikea runs we have been known to make. "FORGET THE CUP HOLDERS! I WANT FLATPACK SPACE!!!" seriously though, the cupholders would be nice too.. something to fit the mega gulp we get at L&L or McD's perhaps?? "meet Meeko your personal mega cupholder!" sigh) Anyway.. it'd be nice to have another car to bug SeanYoda about assuming it was worthwhile. (we're still in the 'virtual shopping' mode for a new car.. so it's not really on the front burner right now).

More Food than you can shake a stick at (without getting tired):
Back to the food... by the time the sun was overhead and burning down on us (me without my TravelSmith hat) we could really see which queus were popular. Sean wanted the soyrizo so we got in line for that.. They had soyrizo burrito as well a soyrizo taco. There were strawberry slushies. There were tapioca milk teas and boba teas (I thought that was the same thing) I had a thai iced tea with no milk and it was actually really sweet and didn't need the milk, which was cool because I think I confused or got confused by one of the young girls working the stand. The only thing I really don't like about the tapioca is that there was too much ice.. so I had to go around the ice cubes to get the yummy tapioca bits (the ice blocked my straw). It was hot ok I wasn't going to wait for the ice to melt. =P Sean had kalbi ribs with rice and that was um.. 3tickets but it looked really filling and delicious. As did the soyrizo taco he had tried. The Thai basil soba stirfry that was one of VitaSoy's free samlples was delicious! Sean put some sauce on his and liked it as well. There were some 50 booths of food so to really get to try everthing and get a good idea of the different soy or tofu options that are out there in the LA area I think we'll have to come back to the fest next year! We'd have to attend both days though. As it is Sean's summers always seem busy with work so we'll have to cross our fingers and plan it out better next time!

Consider LITTLE TOKYO! or something:
There were many other booths as well that had info for the tourist and non-tourist alike. There was a MTA booth with maps for folks of the bus and lightrail lines (Sean got those quicker than you can say "REDLINE!") as well some seemingly informative basic info on the downtown LA area, as well a dining guide for LA and a downtown newspaper which I haven't had a chance to look at yet.. There were a couple booths promoting some new condo developments in the Little Tokyo area. I must say that the one already mostly built has a slight advantage I would think.. Khovnanian which I am a fan of for the most part (I also like the Olson properties in Burbank) which their Avenue One in Irvine, really isn't getting me excited about the proposed A2 they have yet to break ground on. I would like to get to the moving and nesting part of our fun down here in the LA area.. having a sales center open next year in the spring doesn't put us really in the running I guess. We'll be moved into another apartment or something in the LA area by then (I would hope)... not that I don't just love our current place. It's big and roomy and light-filled and South-facing.. and oh yeah, in Anaheim, where the buses aren't as frequent or as plentiful or as on time or.. and it takes hubby about 3hrs to commute back & forth to work every day.. So not really high on the convenience factor. That's the only thing really. ;P right.

I love a parade! (Nisei Week Parade):
Anyway lots of stuff going on. We headed out of the fest area and into a Nisei Week Parade shortly after around 4pm I want to say.. I can't recall the last time I stayed for a parade that long. I've seen the Rose parade but on tv.. that one lasts 2hrs. This one was a little shorter.

They had cars, lots and lots of cars! They had Japanese-American WWII veterans. Those guys rock! They had the Mayor of LA (who I guess is everywhere all at the same time! kiding!) Bruce from Survivor was there! (he should of won I tell you!) There were marching bands,including the largest flag corp I've ever seen and some really great percussion sections. There were scores apon scores of the most beautifully attired and amazing dancers I've seen. Some of them wearing traditional style wood sandals which looked like they would be murder on the feet. There were cute little girls and boys dancing and marching along with the classes, also in traditional costumes.. There were scores of ladies with lovely fan dancing and men with very short kimonos (I'm probably not calling it the right thing). There was a wagon pulled by 2 large horses. There were personalities I wasn't familiar with, as well elected officials I wasn't familiar with, sister-city mayors from all over, city council members, festival officials and scores of other folks, all driven in these amazing and beautiful classic & not so classic cars. There were the LA PD in there black & white HUMMER. There was a group of marching Akita owners with their dogs. Beautiful puppies & pretty well behaved, too. There were what I imagined to be teams of lion dancer-style troups with heavy floats with a model city hall on it, that they danced and twirled and bounced along the street.. I really hope this wasn't a long route as they were tired already! There was a troup of Taiko drummers, which made me feel a lot better after missing the live group that had performed earlier in the day on the main stage at the Tofu Fest. The Taiko drummers I like better than the regular bands. The sound of the wood kind of reverberates better through your entire being.. whereas the high shcool bands have a more disruptive sound. (Speaking of which, the high school bands played stuff like "beer barrel polka" and what I thought was "over there" which I thought was a weird thing but maybe it makes sense to someone). There were Anime-style CosPlayers that walked in the parade as well. I'm not sure where they came from and perhaps, like many of the dancing studios decided to join the Nisei Week Parade festivities at the last minute. Another moment where I wish C&J had come along with us. My calves were killing me though so maybe a long afternoon walking in the hot sun was too much even for normal folks than it was for me.. I was wore out!

Now that I think about it, it makes sense that Sean has some 200 pix he took on the sidelines of the parade.. He got plenty dirty though, and I think that's where the fun ended as I scolded him one too many times for leaning on the dirty newspaper boxes to steady the camera. There was a tree he sat next to at one point that had sprouts that itched at my leg and bees that came out of nowhere that made me scamper/ trip into the shadows of the store sidewalks, not to mention the sunburn I was feeling on my neck as the sun moved Westward and got a good portion of my neck and head burnt.

Afterwards we headed back for the parking area and caught the parade on the other side. We got to the Japanese American History Museum where the CosPlay folks were posing for pix with each other. They weren't necessarily as decked out as the kids that hang out by the Anaheim Convention Center but still it was fun and you could kind of tell who they were supposed to be dressed like. That's about when Sean made the phone post for me, as I was having a really tough time hearing the LJ phone prompts and was at the end of my patience for the long hot day. Cranky Meeko had arrived. Time to go home.

Photos.. so many photos and we'll see how long it takes for me to finish editing the ones from Oakland and then finally I may get around to the Tofu fest. All in all it was a fun day, and I got some clean laundry done the same day so I'm happy with that. Just not happy with the new sunburn on my head and the snappiness I seem to get at the end of the day. Also have a tightness in the calves that border on charlie horse level, which made my RLS type spasms even worse and sleep near impossible (except for the deep freaky-dream inducing cat nap I took Sunday night). If you read this far, I commend you. =)