Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fugetsudo's Gaufre Waffles

I found Fugetsudo's mini gaufres in lovely cans with illustrations of three famous views of Kyoto (Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, and Gion Festival) in the basement of Takashimaya Department Store. Each can has 6 gaufres and 389 yen.

Fugetsudo Confectionery was founded in 1747 in Ueno of Tokyo, and their gaufre waffles have been a very popular suvenior for decades.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lunch and Beer in Shin-Kobe Station

We are experiencing historically hot summer in Japan. The incredible heat makes me stay away from going outside.

I got an e-mail yesterday morning --- "I have two hours to kill at the Shin-Kobe station. How about beer?"

No matter how hot it is outside, I welcome this kind of invitation!

Salted green soybeans are the best "otsumami (snack)" for beer.

Among several restaurants in Shin-Kobe station, we chose Japanese restaurant and ordered this lunch box: tempura, salad, sashimi, noodle, white rice, inari sushi (stuffed sushi), Japanese egg omlette called "dashimaki tamago," baked egg-plants, and pickles (1800 yen).

It is a 30 minute ride in Shinkansen Bullet train to Shin-Kobe station from Kyoto Station.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Trial of Parade "Hikizome" of Gion Matsuri

The float construction completed and a "trial of parade" was performed yesterday and today.

The highlight of the festival "Yama-hoko Junko" parade will be on the 17th, but women are not allowed to touch floats, except today and tomorrow.

It is said that you can have profits of good health and luck if you touch the ropes of floats.

So everyone rushed to the floats including myself!

The Gion music and the creaking sound of the floats... Very exciting!

And, the eve of the festival "Yoi-Yama" will begin tomorrow.

Gion Matsuri Festival

July is the month of Gion Matsuri Festival and most exciting month in Kyoto

The procession of the "Welcoming Lanterns" of the festival paraded in the city last Saturday.

The procession is very gorgeous with traditional Gion Festival music and big paper lanterns.

I saw a Shinto priest purifying the procession with "Ohnusa (=hemp)" in front of the Yasaka Shrine.

We had a perfect weather and streets were with full of people.

The procession of the "Welcoming Lanterns" goes to the Municipal Hall via Shijo Kawaramachi, where the dance is performed by children.

And these are the children...

A mom is fanning her child with a fan.

This is a group of girls who dance "Komachi odori" which is very popular in Kyoto.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Breakfast Noodle @ Owari-Ya (since 1465)

When I have a business to do early in the morning, I usually dine out. My breakfast of today was Owari-ya's "Soba noodle set" which I saw on TV the othe day (soba=buckwheat).

Owari-ya's noodles are made from this famous spring water "Nishiki" which springs out right in the storefront! And everyone is allowed to use this water.

Their breakfast menu is only one --- a set of soba noodle and rice (9:30 to 11AM). And you can choose "soba in hot broth" or "cold soba with dipping sauce." In summer, I prefer cold soba.

And, steamed rice mixed with vegetables is called "Kayaku Gohan."

When I finished my soba, "soba-yu" was served. Soba-yu is hot water that soba noodles have simmered in. It is brought to the table for a customer to pour soba-yu into the remaining dipping sauce and to enjoy as a soup at the end.

I totally enjoyed this 500 yen healthy breakfast!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Potato Chips of Shichimi-Ya

Shichimi-ya in Higashiyama has two new items of potato chips. "Shichimi" potato chips and "Yuzu Ichimi" potato chips. Each three bags of 20g potato chips are in this box (750 yen).

"Shichimi" means 7 spices (chili, sansho pepper, white and black sesame, poppy seed, hemp seed, and green seaweed), and "Yuzu Ichimi" means yuzu orange and red chili pepper.

Their popular "Kata-Age" potato chips are 100 yen (70g/bag). "Kata Age" means thickly sliced and fried.

Jishu Shrine in Kiyomizu Temple

Ohkuni-nushi (meaning Great Land Master) is a divinity in Japanese Shinto and a god for match making also.

Ohkuni-nushi is first mentioned in the very famous Japanese myth "White Rabbit of Inaba," and here is a statue of Rabbit in the shrine!

It is said that the Jishu Shrine gives many profits besides match making. So please stop by when you visit Kiyomizu Temple.

When the Tanabata festival ended, it started to rain again. It's still rainy season.

Tanabata Festival @ Jishu Shrine

July 7 is Tanabata, or Star Festival. The festival traces its origins to a legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega), lovers separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet once a year on July 7.

The Jishu Shrine in Kiyomizu Temple, which is very famous for match making, especially get crowded on this day with girls who wish to succeed in love.

A pair of doll shape tanzaku (=paper strips) can be purchased at 500 yen at the Shrine. And you write down your name on one tanzaku, and your partner's name on the other tanzaku, wishing for a good match.

Bamboo trees, decorated with a lot of paper doll couples, in the shrine are very unique.

Friday, July 09, 2010

DVD of Kyoto's Three Great Festivals

In Junkudo Bookstore in Shijo, "Gion Matsuri corner" is set up now. Paperbacks, picture books, stickers, and fans, etc. are sold.

And this is what I bought.

Mainly three grand festivals of Kyoto (Aoi Matsuri of spring, Gion Matsuri of summer, and Jidai Matsuri of autumn) are introduced in the DVD. Besides, Gozan and Kurama Fire Festivals and 24 temples and shrines are introduced.

It's a 60 minute bilingual DVD in Japanese and English.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Regional Form Cards

My friend in Hiroshima asked me to get a Regional Form Card of Kyoto. I didn't know such cards exist until now.

She told me that the cards are very popular among collectors because you can obtain the card only at the regional post office.

I went to a post office nearby and bought Kyoto version today (design of umbrella and pokkuri sandals of Maiko girls) --- 180 yen/piece.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Summer Purification Ritual

The Great Purification Ceremony is held in shrines and temples in Japan on June 30th, the last day of the first half of the year.

I participated in the ceremony of Yasaka Shrine.

Some male participants were wearing formal kimono.

Shinto purification by "hito-gata" utilizes a human-shaped paper doll which is a worshiper rubs over the body and blows breath upon to transfer any illness or impurity. It is then inscribed with name and age and returned to the shrines with a small money offering.

At the end of the ceremony, we walked through a chi-no-wa (a huge ring of reed), to atone for our sins in the first half of the year, and to pray for happiness in the remaining half of the year.

The ceremony ended after 30 minutes, but people can walk through the Chi-no-wa any time.