Eventful Week

Wow! I have just had the most eventful (and stressful) week in a long time! All week I’ve been out every day going somewhere, something I usually don’t do because it stresses me out, but this week was so much to do and see that I just had to go out of my shell a bit more.

It started last Saturday when I went to see Kyogen at Shinsen-en, a small temple near Nijo Castle. Shinsen Kyogen were started in 1903, and there are 30 different pantomimes, each taking about 50 minutes. I saw two of them on Saturday. One was about a thief being punished, the second one about a spider monster being caught somewhere in the woods. Especially the second one was very dynamic with spectacular fight scenes – imagine my surprise when the black spider jumped from the stage at first floor, and the two samurai with their drawn swords right after them!

7 kinds of sakeOn Monday I went to Fushimi Momoyama in southern Kyoto to a sake tasting. It was a three-hour event where in total I tasted 10 different types of sake, the first sip solo, the second sip paired with food. It was more a lesson than a tasting, and it was so good, I feel quite confident of being able to go to a shop and buying not just any sake, but choosing one that I like. I was invited to a private tour because the company doing it wants to increase their online presence; I promised to write about them both on What’s Up In Kyoto, and on this blog as well, so stay tuned!

I had two work meetings on Tuesday, so nothing special, but yesterday I went to Kibune in northern Kyoto to see the Hitaki-sai Festival at Kifune Shrine, one of my favourites. During the Hitaki-sai, wooden prayer sticks gathered over the last year are ritually burned as supplication to the gods, and the ceremony was very interesting and fun – in the end, visitors were invited to throw sticks into the fire as well. Kibune town was badly hit during typhoon Jebi in September, on the road to it, many trees were uprooted, and my favourite house in somewhat European style is gone – I heard it was hit by fallen trees, but nobody got injured.

And today, I spend in Ohara, a small town north on Kyoto, with one of my English students. We do these trips occasionally, and I asked her to come along to see the Ohara-me festival. Ohara-me were women in special dresses, who would walk all the way to Kyoto carrying firewood or sometimes flowers in baskets on their heads in order to sell them in town. Unfortunately, although the festival is said to be held for two weeks, we couldn’t find any sign of it – probably the big things happen only in the weekends?Garden of Sanzenin TempleIn any case, we did make good use of the time we spent in Ohara, because we went to Sanzen-in Temple, a huge Zen temple where in the olden days, retired emperors would go to and live. At the moment, it is a little bit too early for the momiji, even though some of the maples had already colored leaves. Of course, there are many shops lining the little lane to the temple, and on the way back, we made it our goal to visit every single one of them! I did buy a few presents for friends, so it was a very successful day indeed!

As you can see, I’ve had a very successful week – and it’s not over yet! Tomorrow I’ll visit a friend of mine, and on Sunday, there is the “Tengu Festival” at a temple far out in the mountains of Arashiyama. I’m not sure about that one because the week was very tiring and I do have to get some work done as well, but I am very, very tempted indeed…