Sunday, 17 August 2008

Daimonji Gozan Okuribi - Kyoto Fire Festival

16th August

After spending the day in Kyoto Ferra-Lynn and I stayed to see the Daimonji Gozan Okuribi which is a festival held in Kyoto once a year. The Daimonji Gozan Okuribi is a festival to celebrate the end of Obon. Obon is a week in August where all the spirits of ancestors return and you must pay respects to them. Many Japanese people travel in this week in order to return to their family homes. This festival in Kyoto signals the end of the Obon and allows the spirits of the ancestors to return. 5 fires are lit on the mountains surrounding Kyoto and are in the shape of kanji - dai monji (the first and largest), myo (life), ho (Buddhist law), funagata (ship) and hidari daimonji (left large fire). We managed to see dai monji which was really large and also ho. It was busy but also really interesting to see.

The river where we were waiting to see the fires

Dai monji - you can't see but it is on a mountain!

Dai monji from a different angle

Ho which was fading a little

Heian Shrine in Kyoto

16th August

Kyoto is one of my favourite places in Japan as each time I go there there is always something new to see and some favourite places to visit. Yesterday Ferra-Lynn (another JET teacher from my apartment) and I spent the afternoon in a very rainy, humid Kyoto. We visited the Heian Shrine which was new for me and then spent some time shopping and looking around in Kyoto.

The huge torii leading to the shrine

The Heian shrine was built in 1895 and is Kyoto's newest and largest shrine.

Me in front of the shrine

Inside the shrine grounds

Ladies in Yukata (summer Kimono)

The colours are just so amazing especially on such an overcast day

I love looking at the plaques at shrines with peoples wishes on them - just wish I could read more Japanese!

What I love about Japan and especially Kyoto is the amazing things you can see just by looking down a side street or through a doorway. There are little shrines and interesting doorways all over the place if you are looking . . .

A beautiful doorway which was in the shopping mall

The river which is a popular spot in summer

The cool dining areas along the river

Beer Garden Time!

12th August

Summer time in Japan means beer garden time! But not as I know beer gardens. Here any roof top can be converted into a beer garden during August! The best beer garden in Himeji is one I have been to a few times before and the view is amazing! This year I have been once and already have another trip planned. It is all you can drink beer, chu-hai and soft drink and all you can eat for 3 hours for about $30! After this time at the beer garden we set off some fireworks which is also a summer activity and you can find fireworks at the supermarket here!

The amazing sunset

The castle as the sun is setting

Steffi, Kyosuke, Michelle, Makoto and Jo at the beer garden with the fantastic backdrop!

Kyosuke, the castle and I

Michelle and Kyosuke with fireworks!

Kyosuke being crazy with fireworks!

And yes boys will be boys (he is only holding it there!)

A crazy bright firework!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Gokiburi time - Cockroach time!


Well this time of year cockroaches are looking to come inside and after discovering one I decided to get them before they got me! So after a good 15 minutes at the supermarket deciding what sort of thing would get rid of them I decided to choose this one . . .

apparently it's the best!

Well it looked simple, they go in the house, get stuck to the ground, eat stuff and die???

Well it is not so simple! You have to fold these houses, peel off the floor so it is sticky, put the "food" to entice them and stick on a door mat to wipe their feet so they will stick to the floor! And they don't die from eating the "food" they just die because they are stuck there! Let's just hope the one that I got rid of last week was lost!

The house looks so welcoming - they are all waving hello and knocking to come in!

The door mat got to me - so cute but so mean!

My new keitai - Kitty-chan!

7th August

Well my phone arrived at the shop today so I was able to pick it up. I had to order this phone as it is now an older model so I was waiting patiently for it! :-) When I left Japan last year we cancelled our phones and I saw that Softbank (the phone company) was releasing the Hello Kitty phone I knew if I came back I would have to have one! And now I do! :-)

The cute box my phone came in!

The phone comes with 6 other faces to use, all Hello Kitty of course! A cute bag, phone strap and a cute jewellery box!

My phone!

My cute phone holder!

The free fireworks that I got for signing up with Softbank! Here you can buy fireworks at convenience stores and supermarkets but it is quite funny to get a pack with your phone!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Himeji Summer Festival

1st - 3rd August

This weekend there was a 3 day festival in Himeji. It was a celebration of Japanese culture which involved dancing, Noh (Japanese theatre) and yum festival food! We went to all three nights and it was great especially as I had missed this festival last year!

A Noh play in front of the castle on Friday night.

I went out to dinner at an okonomiyaki place with Taube, Ferra-Lynn and Julian.

Lanterns outside the castle on Saturday night.

Kitty-chan masks for sale at the festival.

Me getting into the spirit of the festival with icecream and an Anpanman! He now swings from the light in my lounge room!

This is how Anpanman and I got home!

The festival involved a lot of dancing on the Sunday.

Me eating a BBQ squid on a stick! It was really yum!

These dancers were really cool with their one glove, dyed hair and open shirts!

One guy even had a love heart painted in his hair!

These dancers were described as "old but genki"!

It was perfect summer weather for a beer and something that was like takoyaki and okonomiyaki with egg. Yum!!

When the cool dancers performed on stage they even took their shirts off!

One of the dancers was a student of Taube's so we had a photo with them!

Tokyo JET Orientation

28th - 30th July

Well I arrived at 7 am on Sunday in Tokyo with 80 other Australians! We were taken to the Keio Plaza Hotel which was a very nice 5 star hotel and it was all paid for! We settled in and then us 6 Adelaide JET's decided it was time for exploring Tokyo! We headed to Harajuku, Yoyogi-koen and Meiji Shrine. It was so so hot and humid compared to the Adelaide weather we had left the day before but it was so exciting to be back in Japan and in Tokyo!

The entrance to Meji Shrine

Walking to the Shrine we saw these girls. . .

We also caught a glimpse of a traditional Japanese wedding at the Shrine

Meiji Shrine

When we went to Yoyogi-koen we saw these guys (I have seen them each time I have been here!) dancing to rock and roll music and looking very cool!

We then walked around Harajuku where all the young, cool people hang out and express themselves in costumes.

And of course this only happens in Japan! Kind of cute but also a little scary!

The shopping street in Harajuku which was so so busy!

We went out in Shinjuku on the Sunday night for dinner and drinks.

The view from my hotel room - the 27th floor!

All the JET's going to Hyogo prefecture (state) had a night out together. There are about 54 of us all together spread out around the state! At one stage we had 19 bottles of beer on our table!

The view from the breakfast room in the hotel - 43rd floor!

The 6 Adelaide JET girls! We did a lot together during the time in Tokyo and we even shared hotel rooms!

Rayna, Laura, Lucy, Nicole, Laura and me!

And when we were leaving Tokyo I saw the cutest bus ever! A Hello Kitty bus - yes my addiction has started again! :-)

Tokyo was fun but quite busy with orientation meetings but it was a great chance to meet people from all over the world!