Lovely weather for a ramble round Gion Matsuri yesterday and my mind went rambling too. To me Gion Matsuri isn’t simply a special time, it’s an island in time; a special place that magically reappears once a year, and as I wander the crowded streets my mind takes me back to all the other Gion festivals I have attended over the years… In a way I wouldn’t be surprised, to bump into my younger selves wandering about too. You always bump into someone you know at Gion Matsuri…
Here are some images…
After a couple of hours the heaving streets became too intense, so we escaped to Taisho’s apartment where he was holding a rooftop party. It was nice to look at the crowds from above.
And then after wandering through the streets a little more, we retired to bar Kisui and had a photo session with our friend Setchan.
And then we went home, following a smaller parade that we encountered by chance and which took us through the streets practically to our door.
Deep Kyoto’s original purpose was to introduce bars, cafes and restaurants of character. However, its purview has expanded way beyond that over the last year or so, to encompass art, books, photography, music, dance, poetry, conservation, environmentalism and now with the controversy over the Kyoto Aquarium – protest! I still post quite a lots of places to sit and eat and drink in though, so let’s take a look at them first!
Yesterday we visited Kinkakuji and Ryoanji to check out the autumn leaves. It was Mewby’s first time to see Kinkakuji. It was of course massively crowded with tourists all trying to get a snap of themselves with the famous Golden Pavilion.
The garden at Ryoanji is gorgeous at this time of year.
I’ve taken to using my i-phone to speed things up when I’m with her, but Mewby doesn’t like it if I take too many pictures…
Just a few snapshots from last Sunday. We were too late for the antiques market but we had a bit of a stroll around Toji’s temple grounds anyway.
Then on into town for a light meal at Vanilla (which you can read more about here).
We stayed there for a while and had a bit of a read – I was reading my book about machiya. It was making me a bit sad though reading about how many old machiya have been lost and looking at photos of the destruction unfolding… So we went for a stroll towards Teramachi and on a whim had a go at one of those “UFO catcher” machines. Oddly enough we won!
Only problem with that though was that Mewby had to carry a giant pink Stitch around with her for the rest of the evening – looking a looney. Stitch in toe – we did some purikura. This particular purikura machine puts too much contrast into the eyes so Mewby comes out looking like some kind of strange anime character:
And then on for a nice dinner at Apollo (which you can read about here). Nice place Apollo. We like it a lot.
Last night Mewby and I went to see the illuminated aumtumn leaves at Kodaiji temple. It was the last night of the illuminations so it was pretty crowded. The crowds do tend to take away from the experience a bit – but what can you do? This is Japan. Here are some pictures.
Let’s see. It was my work friend Matt’s last night of drinking before he becomes a poppa last Friday. So I ended up pretty wasted (naturally) and even after Matt had gone, continued drinking with Andrew and his friend Mike. The booze (among other things… but mainly the booze) having made us all emotional we sat by the Kamogawa watching the fireflies (pretty amazing up by Demachiyanagi this time of year) and telling each other mutually appreciative things… I eventually got home at 4 – which was unfortunate as I had the clinic at ten. But I made it on time and it was a good session too…
Saturday was funny. Spent most of the afternoon wrestling with Mewby’s dog Rui (actually… not that hard to do… seeing as she’s a Maltese). Leaving Mewby’s place we passed Tofukuji so I took a picture.
Then in the evening we met up with Ted and Miki and her brother and sister-in-law (“yome desu!”) at Shimogamo. We had heard there was a fire-fly festival and that 500 of our wee glowing bretheren would be released at the stream. There was a large crowd waiting around the stream at the front of the shrine, staring intently at the waters so we waited there and stared intently too… and the minutes ticked by and nothing happened… till suddenly everyone just upped and left. It seemed there was another stream inside the shrine and that was where all the action had happened and we’d missed it already. However, although I had images of hundreds of the poor wee twinkly beasties being released all in one glowing go (and Ted had had Larsen-esque images of them all being instantly caught in a giant spider web) it appears they were all released boringly one-by-one. No show-manship these people. They like to dress up though.
I don’t know what this lady was doing but lots of people were watching her very intently so I’m sure it was very cultural and important.
Later though going home by the river, Mewby kept stopping and insistently shouting “Look! Look! There’s another one! Look! LOOOK!” very excitedly because there so many fireflies out among the river grasses… Very exciting, fireflies. If you get the chance – get yourself up to Demachiyanagi and watch them floating about. It’s like watching fairies. It really is.
It’s Setsubun, the day when people throw beans at demons (who knows why?) so I wanted to see some guys in demon costumes getting pelted at Rozanji but unfortunately left it too late and got there in time to see a sea of umbrellas instead (shocking weather today). The matsuri at Yoshida Jinja was a different story though. They burn a big ole pile of charms and amulets there at Setsubun you see, so we got there early and got a front row eyebrow searing, slightly scary view of the raging inferno. Some of these pictures are mine and a few are by mewby. Bet you can’t guess which are which. Click the switches to move the pictures on.
Kibune is very pretty (but very cold) at this time of year…
A walk in the woods…
And there were lights on the river. I’m not sure why…
On the way home, they turned the lights off on the train so we could enjoy the sight of all the illuminated red and gold leaves around us, and everybody said “Aaaaah!”.