Friday, 2 August 2013

Bubbles & Fireworks

Kyoto




After we'd been at Steve and E's place for a few hours I realised I hadn't taken any photos. That's okay, Steve said, forgetting to take photos can be a sign that you are having too much fun. It was true - to arrive in Kyoto (almost a second home now) and be able to hug everyone (there's nothing like it - all that lack-of-hugs that 2D Skype-ing stores up in your cells, at last allowed out!) meant no room for taking photos.



Picnic in the playground (with bubbles) ...




... bubbles were on the list ... (see below what else was on the list) ...


... Steve making yakitori; grilled chicken ... a favourite ...

The two grandchildren had made a list each of what they wanted to do when Grandma and Grandpa were there ... fireworks was on the list. The Japanese word for fireworks is hanabi - pronounced a little bit like 'honeybee' and literally means 'fire flower'. Consequently one night we had some sparkler fun just outside the door, bucket of water at the ready to dunk the hot metal sticks in once all their sparkle had fizzed.




The timing of our visit coincided with Gion festival  (a 1200-year old festival!) so we were able to participate with SEAR (code name for our Kyoto family) in some of the events. (Read more about this amazing festival and procession of floats HERE )


The large floats that make up the procession take about a month to construct in place on the street. They are about a storey high ...



... and have huge wooden wheels.

On the day (17th July) they are pulled by teams of men dressed in traditional costume.



... waiting for the bus ... love the kimono and the smart phone ...

Robert and I joined in with what has become a family tradition for SEAR and went 'down town' (E and the kids wearing traditional costumes) to see the floats all lit up and ready to go in the procession the next day. There was a night-carnival atmosphere, with stalls set up selling food, drinks, games of luck and crafts (the usual side-shows you'd expect at any carnival).





... on the way to meet Dad at work before heading to the carnival ...


... Steve standing beside the 'boat float'. One year he was invited to be part of the team to drag this float through the streets ... 


The weather was extremely humid. Steve said it is even more humid in August. I found July was quite humid enough for me thank you very much! The heat (like a heavy blanket you couldn't throw off) was overwhelmingly draining. The paper fans that were being given away throughout the festival events, were well used! A towel around the neck is another aid as is the umbrella to keep the heat off your head. Also E's magic home-made 'pink drink' - soooo refreshing!


Robert went to the procession and saw some of the floats being dragged by. I was suffering from the heat (turned out to be a bit of dehydration and lack of salt) so stayed back at the house in front of the cooling fan with E and the kids ...


The sign by Sanjo (third bridge) signifies its historical status and part of the famous Takaido highway


A coffee and green tea cookie in a very welcome cool spot ...



In the background (you can see the white lanterns) is one of the floats on the side of the street ...



... Golden Temple (and down the road believe it or not, is Silver Temple) ...




... people throw money to try and at least hit the bowl and make the 'ding' sound, but even better, to get the money into the bowl ... 


Because SEAR couldn't be part of my 60th celebrations in Paris, they made up for it by treating us to a lovely dinner on Pontocho  - my favourite Kyoto street; a historic, cobbled street running parallel to the Kamo river and lined on both sides with restaurants, their doorway and entrance paraphernalia (lanterns, altars, bells, ornaments, plants, signs and hangings etc.) crowding the narrow street.


We had dinner at one of the restaurants with an outdoor deck specially constructed for summer, then taken down again in the winter. (A's energy typically too much for the camera). 

The coloured squares are ceramic trays with sauces to dip the kebab-style food that was brought to us. The food was an endless supply - when we figured we had reached our penultimate piece of fried meat or fish, we let the waitresses know and she would signal to the chef not to cook any more.



Sitting with SEAR (... the R component of SEAR stretched out on a seat fast asleep) out on the deck in the warm twilight by the quietly flowing Kamogawa, hearing the occasional clip-clop from zori (traditional wooden sandals) on the paved river walkway below, was simply magic.



Our time with SEAR was brief but fulfilling. The best part was spending family time with them; reading to the kids, playing lego with them (also on the list) giving them breakfast so that the parents could sleep on (a grandparent's privilege), talking together, eating chocolate together, drinking E's plum wine, laughing together, eating together (sushi train, stall and market fare, home-cooked meals ...) walking together, experiencing the fun of a carnival together, picnicking together and generally catching up on things skype can't provide.




... drawing on the glass doors with special crayons that are able to be wiped off when finished ... I thought these were a great idea - must get some for the Dunedin grandchildren ...


All good things come to an end. We bid a sad good-bye to our family in Kyoto and headed for the airport. Our holiday and travels were over. For now.

2 comments:

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Our Ashley and Kaito both said the Golden Temple was their favorite thing on this visit to Japan. Love your pics and narrative! Just like a vacation there!

yujinxiang said...

Fantastic Kyoto!

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'how this all harbours light'