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Last year, at this same time my sister and I set out on an excursion to attend the Saga International Balloon Festival. It turned out to be an epic fail. We decided to drive to the festival because it was only 60km away from our house. We set out around noon to be there by 1:30pm to see the show at 3pm. 4.5 hours later we somehow were still 60km away from Saga. I pretty sure there was some looping going on while we were driving the highway. Needless to say, by the time we made it to the festival area, parked our car, and caught a train to the balloon station, we had missed everything. That night we did not see one hot air balloon at we were at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival of Asia. We decided to cut our losses and what happens when you try to attend an event and it turns into a huge bummer… tell everyone how great it was! We did just that until they became suspicious about the free hot air balloon rides. I mean if you are going to go crazy, you might as well go crazy, right?

This year was a much bigger success then we could have anticipated. We decided to take the train having become much more familiar with it and it only took about 1 hour to get to the festival and the train pulled right up to the station, which was very convenient. I now invite you to follow me as we watch some 40 balloons take off at the International Hot Air Balloon Festival Saga, Japan, 2013. Enjoy!

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I couldn’t resist a photo of these two. I’ll never understand Japanese clothing ideas but the boy on the left has a shirt that says masculinity and then blue polka-dotted pants… go figure.

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The crowds are coming out to see the big show. It was pretty packed around 2pm. All of the balloons took off at 3pm after a weather evaluation. It was pretty dreary the whole day so we were very happy that it held out long enough for them to take off.

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The first set of balloons, getting ready to take off. The ground was so colorful with the balloons until they took off.

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The race is on to get off the ground. Who will be first? I decided to cheer for #18 only because they were one of the ones right in front of where I was sitting and I had a good view.

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They are all steadily growing and getting ready for take off, in the back you can already see some of the balloons off the ground and heading skyward.

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There goes #1. We had a good view from the hill as he took off.

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Come on guys, get off the ground! You have a race to win!

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Up, up, and up! At this point they were all starting to take to the sky. It was awesome!

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Goodbye #17. K waves to them as the sky sucks them up and away from the crowds.

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At this point here, I had a bit of a mishap and I accidentally tripped K and sent her sliding down the hill. My apologies!

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Now the pictures start to take on different shapes as we get pictures o the balloons in the sky in every which direction. This is one of my favorites because there are balloons in the sky, balloons on the ground, balloons out far, and balloons quite near.

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My sister and I, thoroughly enjoying the balloon show.

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K joins us as the final grouping of balloons is taking off to the skies!

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There’s #2. At first we thought they were having some difficulties and then they were clear from the ground and away they went.

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Goodbye #2. Have a safe trip.

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#3 is giving a burst of flame to his balloon to get up and out of the way of the crowds. It was so cool to see them floating so closely above us as they headed out.

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#74 holding strong. Such a colorful balloon!
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She’s waving goodbye to the balloons as they clear the hill.

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And then I sit back and relax as the balloons float out of range. What a relaxing day.

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As we were heading to the train we saw other people that we knew and some Japanese girls begged us to get a picture with them. Its hard being an American celebrity sometimes. haha.

IMG_0899Festival food is the best kind of food!

After all of the balloons were up in the air we were heading back to catch the train before the masses. This was a very enjoyable afternoon and just what was needed after a full week of tedious work. I can breathe a sigh of relief when I get to hang out with great people, drink great drinks, eat great food, and let the stress of a hard work week melt away.

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