The other GPES students are rather involved in Todai circles (サッカル sakkaru) but I guess one would see me as a typical graduate student: a commitment-phobe with regards to university clubs and societies. In my defense, this term has been particularly insane for me and I didn’t manage to make it down to those I was actually interested in. No matter! The Gogatsusai is a brilliant time to catch up on what you’ve been missing out on and experience what those clubs (部活動 bukatsu) and circles have to offer! While you do get chances to take part in booths, like Amelia who was Ms. Moneybags at the Malaysian Student Association booth, I elected to be a normal paying customer and just had a walk around.
Stepping through the famous Red Gate (赤門 Akamon) of Todai’s Hongo campus, you enter a world of intense sensory overload. Loads of students shouting, “Come get some takoyaki/yakisoba/kakigori” and trying all sorts of ways to lure you to their stall (including cross-dressing – not sure how successful this trick is). My star buy of the day was the Okonomiyaki Moffle – a waffle made of mochi with an okonomiyaki topping. Say what?!?!
Not only can you get food lovingly cooked by Todai students, you get to explore the hallowed Hongo halls and learn more about what they do. Apparently you can even participate in a dummy dissection in the medical building! There’re also an assortment of cafés that are differently themed to cater to every possible whim. The centre stage has an amazing location right in front of the iconic Yasuda Auditorium and hosts a huge variety of acts. One of them we stopped to gawk horrifiedly at was a girl group not unlike AKB48, apart from the fact that they were wearing strange gold Power Ranger-esque masks. Indeed, a school festival beyond compare.
The Gogatsusai’s autumn counterpart is called Komabasai and is held in the Komaba campus amidst incredibly beautiful ginkgo trees that are Todai’s symbol. If you missed this one, come along for the next one and maybe I’ll be manning a Moffle booth – you never know!
(Picture source: http://fukutake.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/english/facilities_nearby-akamon.html)