Monday, July 30, 2012

Kanko-Sai (Gods Return to Yasaka Shrine)

July 24th was the day that three "Mikoshi (portable shrine for gods)" return to Yasaka Shrine, after gods watched over the Gion Matsuri festivities for a week in their temporary home called Otabisho near Teramachi.  

After I finished my work around 6PM, I was walking towards the intersection of Shijo and Nihino-Toin, and saw that Kanko-Sai parade was just being conducted. How lucky I was!

I thoroughly enjoyed Gion Matsuri of this year!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shinpachi near Yasaka Pagoda

"Shinpachi" is a family owned small restaurant of Kyoto cuisine near Yasaka Pagoda.  It is always our first choice for Japanese food when my sister (who lives in Canada) comes back to Kyoto. Not only we like the food, but also we like the family!  

I saw "oshizushi (pressed sushi)" in their new lunch menu, so I went in.  I chose prawn as my topping for oshizushi.  Very elegant "osuimono (clear soup)" is included and 1,050 yen. Nice presentation and delicious food as always!

Yamahoko Junko (Parade of Yamahoko Floats)

The day of Gion Matsuri's main event "Yamahoko Parade."  

The highlight of the parade is to watch "Tsuji-Mawashi (turning of floats)" at the intersections (See the map below). I went to Shijo and Kawaramachi Intersection around 8AM, and it was already packed with people.

When the float makes a 90 degree turn, bamboo sticks are put underneath the wheels to slide them.  This hard and elaborate technique called "Tsuji-Mawashi" is the center of public attention, and the points of Tsuji-Mawashi are especially crowded.  

Following few photos show a bit of Tsuji-Mawashi of "Niwatori Hoko (Hen Float)."

The beautifully decorated "Mousou Yama" float (which I introduced the other day) is approaching.

Very treasured and antique tapestries called "dogake" have international flavors.

The highest temperature of this day was 36.4 degrees C. Approximately 130,000 people observed the Parade!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Iwami Kagura @ Yasaka Shrine

Iwami Kagura (ancient Shinto dance) from Shimane Prefecture was performed on the eve of Festival at Yasaka Shrine again this year.  This is my most favorite event of all, because I was born and grew up in Shimane, literally grew up with Kagura dance and music! 

Among five performances, the Kyoto-related story of "Benkei and Ushiwakamaru" was included this year.  Benkei received loud applause when he came on stage.

I wanted to upload more photos, but unfortunately they didn't turn out very well.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yamahoko Scene

This is "Mousou Yama" float, also known as "Takenoko Yama."  Takenoko means bamboo shoot.  The float is designed based upon the story:  a man named Mousou searched for bamboo shoots and found one in the deep snow for his diseased mother.  

Now I know why the float is a shape of bamboo shoot, and the pine tree decorated with cotton (as snow) is set on the top of the float.

Yamahoko visit can be more and more enjoyable when you know the meaning of floats beforehand. 

Mousou Yama's "tenugui (Japanese thin hand towel)" are also very pretty.  Bamboo is designed of course.

This year's Yoiyama (July 14~16) coincides with a long weekend, and it was announced that 250,000 people came out yesterday, and 290,000 people will be out today.  That's 100,000 people more than last year!

"Kon Chiki Chin~~~♪ ♫" (Sound of Gion Matsuri)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Okinawa Cuisine "A-goole"

Okinawa food is a good choice in hot weather, so I went to A-goole Restaurant near Kyoto Imperial Palace for lunch. "A-goole" means "hide-and-seek" in Okinawa language from Ryukyu Kingdom era.

Their exotic menu items look so delicious and made me difficult to choose...

After having trouble choosing, I decided Seafood & Umi-budo Donburi (rice bowl) set.  1,000 yen.  Okinawa dessert "Sata Andagi" is also included.

"Umi-budo" literally means "sea grapes" because it looks like grapes.  They are a type of sea kelp that grow only in Okinawa ocean. The texture is a bit like caviar.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gift Items

Lots of Gion Matsuri related gift items are now displayed in souvenir shops.  Miniature floats are especially attractive!

Large Wooden Wheels

Floats will be set on these four wheels.

They are about two meters in diameter!

Yamahoko Float Construction Scene Part 3

This is "Kanko Hoko" near the intersection of Shijo and Karasuma.

The float is starting to be decorated with gorgeous artworks now.  Chart of Yamahoko describes about decorations and meaning of each Float, with historic background.

Team Kanko's logo is cute too♪

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yamahoko Float Construction Scene Part 2

Floats are described as "moving art museum" because of the splendid decorations.  An assembling technique with rope is equally splendid.  This technique is called a "butterfly."  Absolutely!

These craftsmen are assembling the "Tsuki Hoko (Moon Float)" and they are wearing the same Happi coats which read Tsuki Hoko.

These are Tenugui (thin Japanese hand towels) designed for Gion Festival, and can be purchased from the 14th (Yoiyama Festival Eve).

Tsuki Hoko's special street cone... Sweet!

Yamahoko Float Construction Scene

The parade consists of 32 floats and they are connected with neighborhoods in each district, where they display their Hoko or Yama floats in their districts to perform.  

There are 23 Yama floats and 9 Hoko floats.  Yama are smaller floats, usually carried by people on their shoulders, and Hoko are massive 2-story floats, weighing from 5 to 12 tons, as high as 25 meters.  They have large wooden wheels and are pulled by 12 to 50 people.

Float assembly is progressing rapidly to complete on the 13th.  All floats are assembled by only straw rope, and no nails are used.

The float that holds lead position in the parade is "Naginata Hoko (Long Sword Float)."

Each year, the Chigo (sacred boy who rides on the leading Naginata Hoko) is selected, and he visits Yasaka Shrine and prays for safety during the festival.

And Yoiyama (eve of the Festival) is held from the 14th, and the downtown area around Shijo and Karasuma will be car-free and hundreds of food and game stalls will be lined up!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Matsuri Lanterns

Festival lanterns of Gion Matsuri near my house (^=^)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Restaurant "KUU" in Kyoto Tower

After I finished shopping at a general merchandise store in front of Kyoto Station, I went to Kyoto Tower which is only a few minute walk away from the station. 

Restaurant "KUU" is on the 3rd floor of Kyoto Tower.  I ordered their lunch set "Summer of Kyoto" (2,000 yen) which is offered until September 30.  The first plate was katsuo (bonito) sashimi with Japanese plum jelly.

Next was cold creamy corn soup.

Main plate:  filet mignon steak, grilled sea bass and shrimp with tomato sauce, gratin of eggplant, a choice of bread or rice. And coffee was served after the meal.

I enjoyed the view of some historic sites in the distance, as much as the food.

Yamaboko of Gion Matsuri

Events of Gion Matsuri are now being held.  And the preparation of Yamaboko floats for the main event "Yamaboko Junko Parade" started and it arouses our festival feeling even more!

The Parade starts 9AM of July 17, from Shijo-Karasuma Intersection.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Dinner at "Chakra"

Chakra offers authentic Bengal Indian cuisine cooked by Bangladeshi chefs.  It opened several months ago in front of the bus stop "Gojo Zaka" which is very convenient to/from Kiyomizu Temple.  

First, I ordered spicy chicken and vegetable mix called "chicken chart."  And beer...  Tasty!  

Then curry.  My choice was shrimp curry

with naan.  Everything was very tasty and well priced.

Chakra opens daily from 11AM till 10PM (last order 9PM).
Tel. 075-525-1260

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Iyemon Salon Kyoto

Sometimes I have to get up very early in the morning to go to Maeniiya Guesthouse.  I am not a morning person but there is one motivation for getting up early.  That is to treat myself to a nice restaurant's breakfast!

Iyemon Salon Kyoto is Restaurant and Bar, managed by Suntory.  So the displayed bottles of whiskey in the restaurant are mostly Suntory's "Yamazaki."  They open until 12 midnight.

Iyemon is located near Karasuma and Sanjo intersection.  You can view a courtyard garden which is shared with Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Sanjo.  The place was almost full when I entered the restaurant around 8:30AM.

This is "Iyemon's Breakfast" (1,000 yen).  (Please excuse my out-of-focus photo.)

Grilled white fish with mushroom and leek's thick sauce called "ankake," lotus root's "kinpira" (saute and simmer style Japanese cooking), and sesame tofu.  What a happy breakfast!