Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Cultural Day: Kiyomizu-yaki danchi Pottery Festival in Yamashina, Culture week and Kyoto Experiment きよみずやきだんち

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...


  1. Jane, I came across your blog a couple of weeks ago and I've loved reading your posts. You've blogged about some of my favourite places in Kyoto - The nama chocolate organic tea house, Cafe Cheka, and even that rather insane Kyupi Kyupi performance. I never knew about the pottery fest in Yamashina - I'll have to visit it next year!
    Yes, fab blog!


  2. Hey David, thanks for dropping me a line and for your kind words. So you saw the Kyupi Kyupi performance?? it was pretty out there eh? interesting mix... Are you a Kyoto local?
    Cheers, J

  3. Hey Jane, I was chatting to my sister in South Africa last night and I was telling her about your blog and how she would like it because 1) she has such a passion for food and 2) she adores Kyoto. It turns out that she has one of your books - Snowflakes and Schnapps!
    If you have some time she has a food blog -

    I've been in Kyoto for three years and have such a love affair with this place. Dai suki ;)
    I can see you do too! How long have you been here?
    I studied fine art for many years before coming to the Far East. Have a peep at two of my little blogs if you have a chance ;)


    david :)

  4. Too funny David! Small world. I will check out your sister's blog and have already looked at yours! some great stuff there. Talented boy. If your sister likes cooking and Kyoto she will hopefully like my next book - out next year. ;)
    Yes, I am totally in love with Kyoto - have travelled here many, many times - from about the age of 15. But I have spent the better part of the last couple of years here and plan to be here - well until they kick me out really!! doing the tourist visa thing at the moment but need to look into another way of being here legally without having to do the schlep in and out of the country. What kind of visa are you here on ? Are you from S.A originally?

  5. Jane! A small, small world indeed! I saw pictures of your Australian friend Mark in a few of your posts. We have a mutual friend actually - Gerald and I met him briefly about 2 years ago. Crazy!

    Ah, I have a friend who has been doing the in and out tourist visa for a while and how mendokusai yo! I hope you can arrange something a little more stable and less stressful. I am actually working on the JET Programme and so I have a working visa. But after three years, my work performance is evaluated and I'll find out if I can stay for another year or two...eeek.
    I am from SA originally! And I miss it sooo much some days. I must admit, I'm really looking forward to going back next week for a summer Christmas!!

    Will you be in Kyoto?
    By the way, I am so intrigued by the bubbling, exploding sake you wrote about. Where can I buy it from?

    And thanks for having a peep at my blogs ;)

  6. oh, I will have to mention you to Mark! wow. But Kyoto is like that right....?
    Hey have a great trip back home for Xmas. YEs I will be having Xmas in Kyoto for the 3rd year in a row - very happy about that. Although I am told I have to be in Oz for the next one or else.... ha ha!! I think that can probably be arranged but I hate the heat - would much rather be here. And hopefully it snows like it did last year!! I will check re the exploding Sake -a friend gave it to me as a gift. I will see her shortly and get the low down. Get back to you when I know. In the meantime - have a great Xmas /NY and perhaps we shall run into each other in 2012. Cheers, J ps - your sister's blog is lovely too!