Blog This

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kyoto Part Ni

Last week I had about 5 days off in a row so I took advantage of that free time and went to Kyoto. This was my second time there but I was able to see things that I missed on the first trip. My first stop was Fushimi Inari (fox) Shrine. This is where you will find approximately 13,000 red gates lined up one after the other sprawled throughout a mountain of trees. It was really stunning. I was lucky that I had a sunny day so I was able to capture the sunlight streaking through the gates.
The next day it was rainy and I had planned on Kinkakuji, the golden temple. Despite the wet and cloudy weather the temple was really stunning. It was so brilliant. It was smaller than I had imagined but still quite breathtaking. The rest of the area wasn't that amazing, but I think the rain was a bit of a downer. After that I went to a zen rock garden. It was quite beautiful and simple. It's a garden that claims to have only 15 rocks and the small pebbles and sand. Not one blade of grass is included in this garden, but there is moss so I don't know if they include that as vegetation.
The next day the sun was out again in full force and I took off to Himeji. It took about an hour and a half by local rapid train to get there and it was well worth it. It was really beautiful. It is the most popular castle in Japan. I think because it is perched quite high above the ground and the city it is seen as very prestigious. It is six stories high and has plenty of detail in every corner of the castle. Next door to the castle was a traditional Japanese garden with pine trees and a coy pond. Some of the maple trees were already turning colours which made for a beautiful sight.
I had a nice time in Kyoto and I was happy that I got to see Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkakuji and Himeji was a really special bonus.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mochi Festival

I know I am the laziest blogger ever but here's one.

Last weekend in Hekinan City, close to Okazaki, I attended the annual mochi festival. Basically we went to a local shrine and a top the structure with the red and white banner stood men who threw wrapped mochi at the crowd below. This may sound like innocent fun however the crowd was less than innocent. I saw old men shoving young people over and vice versa just to get these pieces of mochi. Why? Well, inside the wrapped mochi is a coloured piece of paper which pertains to a prize. The top prize is a TV and maybe 2 or 3 bicycles however the most common prizes were boxes of tissues, saran wrap and full size bottles of soy sauce. There were about 3 or 4 different groups of men who threw mochi. I was able to catch one piece during the first round and 5 pieces in the last round. I couldn't believe how crazy people were going over this stuff. Some people even brought long butterfly nets to catch the mochi before it got close to us using plastic bags or our hands.
I couldn't believe how much some people walked away with. This happens twice in the month of October and I guarantee that some people went back for the second week. Who needs a grocery store when you have a mochi festival?