Nijo castle + Sanjo-kai

This time I’d like to write (more like posting pictures…) about the “Nijo castle and it’s surroundings” area in Kyoto, which is close to where I’m currently living. So, the Nijo castle o Nijo-jo was originally built in 1626 for the Tokugawa family (the shoguns) but it was destroyed in 1788 by a fire. It wasn’t until 1867 when the Imperial Cabinet started using it again that it was restored. This castle is literally in the middle of the city and is now a very turistic area. Enough historical facts.

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Well I didn’t go inside this time (I don’t remember if pictures are allowed inside anyway) but maybe another day.

Near the castle there is a shopping street/arcade (shoutengai in japanese) called Sanjo-kai *because it’s in the Sanjo Street, how original*. There are many shopping streets in Kyoto, but the famous ones are too crowded and filled with tourists, and I don’t enjoy crowds so…The Sanjo-kai is more traditional and that’s why I like it, you can actually see the locals doing grocery shopping and the shops are not only gift shops and restaurants. The only thing I don’t like about it is that there is always a lot of people riding bycicles and you know, they go really fast and one day they’re going to run over me and I’m going to die haha.

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The entrance of the arcade.

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Hipster café *aka Sarasa 3* (they make really delicious cakes).

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I like that wall painting a lot. *edit* it doesn´t exist anymore 😦

 

And that’s it for today! If there’s something you would like to see or know about Japan, specially from Kyoto, Osaka or Nara let me know in the coments! 😀

Thanks for reading!

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Aoi Matsuri

Hello!  Long time no see! So, some updates: I moved to Kyoto and now I live in the Nijo Castle area 😀 It’s such a great location, I can go almost everywhere by foot. I was also busy looking for a part-time job *baito* too…

Well, the 15th of May was the Aoi Matsuri or Alcea Festival in Kyoto. It’s a parade where you can see people dressed with ancient japanese costumes. They walk from the Imperial Palace to Kamigamo Shrine for approximately 4-5 hours. That day it was really hot in Kyoto, so I guess it was very tiring 😥  This festival started during Emperor Kinmei’s reign (539-571) but it stoped for some periods due to various reasons (war, prohibition from Emperor Mommu, etc.). Here I quote a more decent explanation of the parade:

“[…]This festival reproduces the procession of officials delivering the Emperor’s message and offerings to the two shrines of Shimogamo and Kamigamo. In this light, the most important position held in the parade is the messenger on horseback wearing a gold sword at his side, who is followed by a train of attendants. The highlight of the procession is the parade of women accompanying the proxy of the imperial princess serving the deities.[…]” – Japan National Turism Organization.

I went to watch the parade to the palace’s entrance, where it starts, but there were too many people and I couln’t take nice pitures, so I went to Shimogamo Shrine thinking there would be less people there, but I was wrong. The thing is that I couldn’t see the entire parade, so there are no pictures of the parade of women ^^’  *sorry*

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All this people were going to see the festival

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While I was was writing this post I was thinking “this pictures would look so much better if there weren’t so many people and modern shops in the back…”, and I was kind of bored so I made this:

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I apologize for my bad editing skills haha

Ok let’s continue:

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I took this picture while crossing the bridge (it was forbidden) and the police started yelling at me *omg*

 

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This was the situation at Shimogamo Shrine when I arrived…

And that’s all, if you go to the festival next year, I suggest going there early to take a nice spot so you can enjoy it. On my way back I saw a person in a frog costume advertising a curry restaurant…*only in Japan*

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Fushimi Inari-taisha

The other day I went to do a little bit of hiking (yes, me, hiking, I know it sounds impossible 😎 ) to Fushimi Inari shrine. The shrine is located in a mountain (mount Inari) and there are thousands and thousands of stairs and toriis (arches) until you get to the top. Along the way there are many little altars where you can pray, or in my case, rest. I’m pretty sure everyone has ever seen a picture of Fushimi Inari somewhere, maybe the most popular being the movie Memoirs of a geisha. So, I know this is nothing new and the internet is full of pictures from this shrine but since it’s one of my favourites, here we go.

I arrived to the shrine in the afternoon and the weather was really good that day 😀

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This is the entrance, where the main shrines are located.

Then I started my way through the arches.

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The route is divided in stages from 1 to 16, being 14 the top of the mountain. In the first stage there is a lake and a little shrine. This is where people with no intentions of going to the top end their visit, so it’s always crowded ^^’

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The lake.

As you continue climbing the forest is more calm and quiet since there are fewer people.

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You can see Kyoto from there~

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And then, finally, after climbing stairs for and hour (more or less), I reached the top of the mountain! 😀 😀

 

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Proof I actually went to the top haha

After resting a little, I started going down. Before I got to the entrance it started getting dark. I thought that would be a problem for taking pictures, but I ended up taking some nice shots.

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This is the main entrance.

 

Since it was already late, I went back to the station.

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And that’s it! sorry for making this post so long *too many pictures* and thanks for reading!!


 

Bonus:

I don’t know what was happening to the man in the front, but he seems concerned haha

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Sakura: in Hirakata

The “hanami” (flower viewing) season has begun, and cherry blossoms (in japanese: sakura) have appeared everywhere 🌸❤️  So I went to take some pictures around the area 🙂 I’m thinking about going to Kyoto to see the sakura trees too, we’ll see

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Suddenly sky turned grey at this point 😥

 

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These were soo pink and pretty!

 

After walking around I went for lunch with my aunt~

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*So yummy*

Thanks for reading! ❤

Shimogamo jinja, Hinamatsuri Part II

Hi! It’s been a while since I updated the blog. I’ve been busy looking for classes and a part time job here in Japan 🙂

Today I’m writing about Shimogamo Shrine, located in Kyoto (near to Demachiyanagi station). I went to this shrine on 3rd March to see the Hinamatsuri (Doll festival/ Gils day) event called Nagashi-bina. It consists  of putting a doll in the river to flow, in this case in the Mitarashi river.

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There’s a park before reaching the shrine.

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The shrine itself and the garden area are really beautiful. I especially like the red bridge over the river ❤

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The first thing in the event was the Junihitoe (“twelve-layer robe”) dressing process. The lady who got to play the “hina” (empress) in the ceremony was dressed by some assistants like they used to do at the Heian era. It’s a very complex way to wear a kimono that only the court ladies used to use. I guess it is really heavy as well 😐

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Once the “empress” was dressed, she joined the “emperor” and the ceremony started. They were the first ones to place the dolls in the river to flow. After them everybody else does the same. To participate you have to buy the dolls but they aren’t expensive (500¥ / 4€ approx.), and you get some sweets too, so it’s fine~ 😛

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These are the paper dolls.

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Here I’m placing the dolls in the river 🙂

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Everything was so cool and pretty but there’s one thing I have to say: TOO MANY PEOPLE! 👿  I couldn’t even see the empress place the dolls in the river because there were too many people trying to see and taking photos 😦 Even the TV was there filming the event..

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This is me stretching my arm trying to take a decent picture…*impossible*

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Before going back home I went to one of the sub-shrines of Shimogamo jinja called Kawai jinja. Here you can prey for matchmaking, an easy delivery, children’s healthy growth, and beauty. To let the gods know your beauty related wish you can paint a “kagami-ema” (a wooden plaque) with the shape of a face reflected in a mirror. The normal ema at other shrines are not as cute as this, so it has become very popular among women.

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This is the ema I painted haha. They lend you colored pencils to paint it and a marker to write your wish in the back.

And this is all for today, I hope you liked the post and thanks for reading! ❤

 

Hinamatsuri

Today is the 3rd of March, which in Japan means Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) and Girl’s Day! Traditionally people put Hina dolls dressed with the traditional court dresses of the Heian period (794 ~ 1185). The basic is just the emperor and empress, but bigger ones have other dolls like attendants and musicians too.  These are the Hina dolls we have at home:

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The stand may vary, but is usually gold and red.

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The colorful thing at the front is hishimochi, a kind of mochi (rice sweets).

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Here are some close-ups of the faces, I think they’re cute 🙂 It seems that the shape and features of the faces are different depending on the region.

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It is also typical to eat chirashizushi (scattered sushi) and various sweets and cakes.

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*sweets* 

Japanese food: Natto

It looks nasty and smells bad BUT it tastes good and it’s healthy. Natto is made of fermented soybeans, being the fermentation process the reason of its cheese-like smell and the sticky texture. It has a lot of protein and vitamins K and C. I have to say it’s not my favourite food, but I like eating it from time to time with rice. All in all, a curious food.

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Natto with rice.

 

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Bookbinder apprentice: Coptic stitch

I started learning bookbinding on september 2015 when I finished college. I had never done it before and I didn’t know how it was going to be. It turned to be really fun and I really liked it. Since the classes where in Zaragoza, Spain, (here⇒ http://escuelalibro.es/) I had to drop out when I moved to Japan, but I’m willing to continue learning even if it’s on my own. I really miss going to class… *cry*

This is a notebook I made recently using a simple coptic stitch binding. I like the minimal look of this stitch and it’s very convenient for writing and sketching since the notebook opens up completely. The covers are lined with a handmade *not by me, of course* greyish marbled paper.

Marbled paper coptic bookbinding

I tried escalating gradually the length of the stitches on the covers. Also, for the black yarn to stand out, I painted a golden line beneath it.

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I hope to continue practicing soon 🙂

Isshinji Temple

I recently visited Isshinji temple, a buddhist temple located in Tennoji (Osaka), where some of my  relatives rest.

 

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It was a cold but sunny day :3

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Here is where families pray for their passed away relatives while a monk prays for them too.

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We also visited the Isshinji sanzen butsuzou (一心寺三千仏像), which means the 3000 buddhas of Isshinji.

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