Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Day 25/26 - Found a Lucky Yen

Day 25

I'm really in love with
Japanese kimonos and
appendant hairstyles

This evening we again attended the Kyo no Tanabata Festival - but at a different site than yesterday. This site was located along the Kamo river. Because we arrived before sunset in the evening, there weren't so many people in the beginning, so that we could walk quite freely along an avenue lined by "Christmas trees" (as we called them, it was decorated small trees) until we reached an area of wattled lanterns in the dark. On our way back, we stopped at a recommended installation, a water projection. The projected, very cute and somewhat kitschy clip was of course about Vega and Altair (see yesterday's explanation).  

Wattled lanterns during dusk at the riverside of Kamo river, not too many people so far...

A scene from the water projection clip
that addressed the boy (Altair) looking for his
girl (Wega), in the background the milky way.

Christmas in August

As we unfortunately lost one of our bicycle keys in the crowds, we had to walk to our second destination, a temple, and even back home (over 5km!)... 
It is the o-bon week, the Buddhist memorial days for the dead. The Buddhist tradition is to guide the souls of the dead back to heaven by lights at nighttime, after they have visited earth to meet their families during the o-bon days. Most temples and shrines are opened at night during o-bon and are lit by lanterns. This is very unusual because normally temples and shrines are closed during the dark hours, It seemed that we were the only tourists at the shrine we were heading to so that we were hesitant to take off our shoes off and enter. We only glanced a few shy looks towards the sanctuary. The sanctuary normally is also covered during daytime. This was the first time that we saw the sanctuary, in this case a mirror and behind it some golden statues with many many burning candles forming a big Kanji character "dai" which means "big"

0911-324-kanji-big.png (120×120)

"Dai" is also one of the huge Kanji characters that will be lit up at the mountains around town on August 16th. That is the last day of the o-bon, and in that night the souls of the dead return to heaven a need to be guided out of town. We will certainly report that experience.  

Day 26

Because we had to leave one bike at the riverside near the festival yesterday, we had to go back today to unlock it and replace the lock. The duplicate key we got from our landlady fitted fortunately, so that we could drive to a cycle repair shop. We found a small one, and a kind elderly man immediately changed the lock for the small amount of 1000 JPY. And he could even speak English a little!

Maybe due to that 1-yen coin I found yesterday, this problem was resolved so easily. Anyway, we thought it was the time now to touch glasses in an Italian restaurant - how I missed this! Best pizza margherita fresca I've ever had. And we even tried this fancy German bakery for the first time - quite expensive but amazingly delicious. Not a big surprise because the owner once went to Germany, to be precisely to Heidelberg, to learn the baker's craft. She came back to Japan and opened this little bakery. I think, that kind of persons is very important for a country. It is not necessarily the amount of immigrants that create an "open culture". The emigrants might create even more openness if they travel and return inspired by what they saw and tried - if they show acceptance for new things, like this woman did and continues to do. I am so happy for us that so many people travel and get inspired by travelling.

What I learned? Always wear your kimono, in case you want to get free presents like small LED lanterns... And: travelling seems to be the best way to show acceptance for other countries, people and cultures.

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