I've been back in Kyoto since October yet I've shamefully neglected to post about Japan in that time but I so wanted to knock over the New York posts first and with a string of three visitors since I returned I haven't been getting much achieved at all apart from tour guiding and taking some photos on our outings.
That is going to change now my time is my own and I will be 'head down bum up' working and for a fun break - posting on here. I will try to catch up with myself as quickly as possible but bear with me if you can - things may be a little sporadic !
To start us off I am hopping back to the weekend of 14-16 October. A friend was in town from Tokyo and we made a quick trip to Yamashina for the annual Rakuto pottery festival (local potters selling off their wares at discounted prices!) before she ran off to Hiroshima for a couple of days. I entertained myself with lunch and a wander before heading to a performance by Kyupi Kyupi at Kyoto Zokei University performance space - part of the Kyoto Experiment 2011 festivities - an international performing arts festival. Never short of a festival in Kyoto.
There was quite a large variety of ceramic ware and we both made a few purchases from some of the many stalls - good prices and loads to see. Go early as it was easy to wander around - by the time we left it was getting crowded.
There was entertainment for the little ones including a stall for painting your own ceramics.
The local villagers also took part in the festivities - I love witnessing this camaraderie and expression of community. At this time of the year it is common to see family groups with lots of kids parading through the local streets. This lot actually roamed through the pottery festival which really added to the atmosphere.
In honour of my friend Katy's departure to Hiroshima I was tuned into the idea of okonomiyaki for lunch - and it was good!! Normally I don't dig Kansai versions but this wasn't bad. Albeit not terribly traditional with the addition of cheese and corn.
I'd caught the special festival bus back from Yamashina to Kyoto station ( the restaurant was in the Porta shopping arcade beneath the bus terminal/next to the station) and on my way out there was yet more festive action with Miss Kimono Kyoto pageantry - all part of the preparations for National Culture Day (and week).
The egg shaped mascot below is meant to represent a silkworm larvae apparently - in honour of Kyoto's old Nishijin textile district (Kyoto being famous for textiles of centuries - especially Kimono fabric and the like) - and he was plastered over everything for a fortnight or so. A most unfortunate choice of mascot but I guess he was kinda Kawaii (cute) if you can forget the larvae reference...
Back at home the afternoon was filled with mini street parades - all from the comfort of my own balcony.
Then it was off to Kyoto Zokei Geijutsu Daigaku ( University of Art and Design)
to attend the Kyupi Kyupi performance - but not before checking out some of the student's work in the forecourt - including this giant umbrella and paper sculptures.
Unfortunately we weren't permitted to take photos of the performance but it was certainly a sight to behold.
We were joined in the audience by a Geiko and a couple of Maiko - I very sneakily snapped this shot...
I wonder what they thought of the Lara Croft-like taiko (drummer) girls, 3 D fishtanks, laser shows, Nihon Buyoh, Bunraku, Noh and a little bit of burlesque-like action? The combination certainly made for a rather intense assault on the senses. An extravaganza! Exhaustingly so- I'm not sure that I have fully recovered. My friend and I needed a very stiff wine afterwards which we thoroughly enjoyed alongside a lovely Italian meal at Bosom. Yes you heard me. Not a bad day at all. And rather jet lagged - I think I did pretty well considering...