Our next adventure was not really a festival, but a shokihara, or summer party, hosted by my work. The professors and grad students prepared yummy traditional foods, including meats and fish on sticks, fried noodles, shaved ice and some mochi concoctions....
Mochi was prepared with the traditional bucket and mallets like so - a process whereby rice is turned into the most sticky, chewy thing imaginable. Traditional new year's fare apparently.
They also had beer and sweet plum wine, an ice block in the middle to allow us to think cool thoughts, blind pinata-style beatings of watermelon and many coworkers dressed in yukata. They even let me wear one for a while. I definitely want to buy one next summer for festival season, although the intricate wrapping
that is involved is pretty intimidating.