Kyoto – Gozan Okuribi

Last night, Teddy and I dressed up in our yukata, and went off to meet with my previous students and coworkers for dinner and to watch Gozan Okuribi. Gozan Okuribi, which means “the five mountain send-off fires” is also known as “Daimonji” – after one of the kanji that is used in the fires. Daimonji takes place on August 16th, and marks the end of O-bon. O-bon is a time when people believe the spirits of the dead return to the earth, so many people go back to their hometowns at this time and care for their family graves. These send-off fires are supposed to guide the spirits back to the afterlife.

There are 5 send-off fires lit in order from east to west – dai (kanji for “Large”), myou-hou (“wonderous dharma”), fune-gata (shape of a boat), hidari-dai (the kanji for large on the left), and torii-gata (the shape of a shrine gate). The first fire is lit at 8 pm, and the last is lit at 8:20 pm. From our perspective, we could see all of the fires except for torii-gata.

We began our evening at Koyaji, an izakaya (Japanese bar) right by my old school from my JET days.

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Kyoto – Heian Jingu and Gion

Yesterday morning, we started our day at Heian Jingu. Heian Jingu was originally built in the late 1800s. It is a reproduction of the Heian Palace, built in 5/8 scale. Nine of the buildings were destroyed by arson in 1976, so those buildings date back to 1979. Heian Jingu is very beautiful – especially at spring time. It’s completely packed with people during cherry blossom season, but it was almost vacant when we went this time. Heian Jingu also appeared in the movie, Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Kyoto – Shrines, Temples, Gardens and More!

Yesterday and today, we spent time in Kyoto – our old home. We saw a bunch of temples, shrines, gardens, and other things.

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Nara

Yesterday, Teddy and I headed to Nara. Nara is about 40 minutes from Kyoto by limited express train. Nara is an old capital of Japan, like Kyoto. We saw Nara Koen, Todaiji, and Kasuga Taisha Shrine.

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Tokugawa-en Night Light-up

Last night, I noticed a poster for a special nighttime light-up at a garden in Ozone.  We decided to go there tonight.  It was really beautiful!

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Osu Matsuri: Night Festival

Tonight we went back to Osu Kannon Temple to see the night festival. We saw Bon Odori Dance, Fire dancing, and Hand held Roman Candles.

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Osu Matsuri: Cosplay Summit 2013

This weekend there was a huge summer festival down in Osu Kannon, a nearby neighborhood. We headed down there today to see the cosplay summit and the handheld fireworks.

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