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October 23, 2003

Kurama No Hi

Yesterday I went to the craziest festival I've ever been to, Kurama no Hi Matsuri! There were hordes and hordes of people. The worst of them were the little old ladies. I got pushed around by these old ladies wading through the crowd. They were fierce little things. As I fought through the crowd to see what was going on I snapped pictures here and there. I understood of little of what was going on, I did not understand why they had the festival or the importance of burning wood for good luck.

We walked about with the crowd as the police shouted instructions to the crowd to either move along or move back. Mostly the crowd ignored the instructions and went about with their own thing. The people with traditional Japanese outfits on carried heavy load of wood like a candle stick on their shoulder and chanting " .... (will get back to this one)". It's a chant that I constantly heard throughout most of the night yet I still cannot remember it.

The finale ended at the lower shrine and more wood burning and more chanting. We left a bit early to catch the last train left out a little after midnight. By the time we reached the Keihan line it was too late to catch any train back to the seminar house. We (Randy, John, Christy, Janna, and I) ended up walking around Kyoto's Shijijo to find a Karaoke place that we can sing and then sleep in the booth. None of that worked out thus we ended up sleeping by the river.

Yes interesting all nighter and the weekend is not even here yet. I hope I get to see the monkeys on Saturday or Sunday, "yes look into my eyes".

Posted by thy at 07:40 AM | Comments (1)

Kyoto To-Ji

This week's pictures are from last weekend's escapade. The day after I went to the Osaka Aquarium. I decided to take stroll around Kyoto. I had no particular plan for that day. Just hop on the train and then get off at a random stop to see where that will take me. I found a nearby Temple in South Kyoto and surmised that it would be a great place to spend my day. I had a small map on me but I was lost for a while since the map had only few streets labeled. I ended up following the river in Kyoto for a while then aimlessly walked toward one of the temples. Luckily I bumped in to a train stopped shown on the map. To my surprised I was away off from my intended target. An hour later I got to the To-Ji.

It's a great place with an awesome Pagoda. The lighting was bad and the weather was a bit nippy. I couldn’t' take that many pictures. So there you have it. My goal of getting lost and roaming around has been achieved. Next weekend will be just as interesting except I'll be in the bamboo forest and looking for the monkeys. I was told not to look them in the eye, they will attack! I’ll going to go test that theory out.

Posted by thy at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2003

Osaka Venture

I shouldn't let this cold pull me down from having fun. I sucked in my sickness and try to walk it off. Got on the train and headed toward Osaka with my runners and plenty of tissue to clear out my nose.

The trains here are not as bad as I initially thought. They are very punctual and super reliable. Too bad I can barely understand what the conductor is saying most of the time. I usually hear blah blah … desu! Blah blah … masu! Blah blah … desu. That’s usually the pattern that I hear. The trains themselves at first I thought would’ve people constantly swarm in and out, each person shoulder to shoulder. As it turns out it's not so common. Being that I'm in Hirakata-shi which is a good a ways away from Osaka or Kyoto so I don't have to fight with heavy traffic. In Osaka however it's a different story, the subway there is usually crowded especially at the popular stops where there are trendy shops and malls. Namba comes to mind, this is where I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with people, fighting to hold my balance and not look at anyone strangely straight in the eye. Yeah I'm looking at you!!!!

Besides the fact that it's rather rare for me to be squished in with other fellow passengers, transportation here is expensive! Around trip from Hirakata-shi to Osaka Namba is 1,080 Yen. This sometimes does not include the bus from the Seminar house to Hirakata-shi Eki. So on a normal day it can cost me $15 to travel around. It's usually a few hundred yen here and there, by the end of the day those few hundred yen coins disappear and the 1,000 Yen notes start disappearing.

Oh yeah Osaka Aquarium, it's a great place with lots of nice fishes. It’s hard to take pictures since its pretty dark in there. I say it's a great place to bring a girl and make out. Haha! You can hardly see people in there except their silhouette. Entrance fee was a bit stiff, 2,000 Yen. I also bought a cute blue penguin as a gift. At the end the aquarium sucked 4,000 Yen out of me. What can I say ... I'm a sucker for fishes and cute blue penguins!

Posted by thy at 01:38 PM | Comments (4)

October 13, 2003

Awful weekend

This was supposed to be an exciting and awesome weekend. As it turns out all my hopes where crushed. I woke up Friday morning to another bad sore throat and on top of that a running nose. I thought nothing of it at first since I haven't been sick for almost 2 years now. Early Friday night I was stuffed up and feeling horrible. Thus Saturday morning I lounged around the whole day, thinking that a little r&r will help me recover quickly. Sunday morning not any better, all pumped up with drugs and still breathing through my mouth, with a smashing headache from having my sinuses all clogged up. Now I'm out of medicine and my nose is still running.

What was I suppose to do this weekend? Well if I was healthy I would have gone to Kyoto to take some pictures and see some sights at Kinkakuji or the bamboo forest, maple forest, you know the kool spots! My other friends however went to Hiroshima. Lots of nice things there, especially the one thing I wanted to see most of all! Yes, the famous floating Torii. Maureen and Kristy got to see it up close and personal when low tide came. They touched and dance around it. Man I wanted to be there! Maybe I can do it soon but for now I'll be around the Kansai area.

This week’s pictures were taken all within several hours on Sunday morning. I had sat around seminar house 1 for three straight days. I was going nutz just sitting around, even though I had a cold and a throbbing headache. I wasn't about to let that stop me from leaving this monotonous place. I packed up, got dressed, and walked toward the nearest bus stop. Got off at Hirakatashi eki, walked around and saw some ceremonial stuff which I did not understand but that it was fascinating. Took some pictures, met up with Rodrigo, and then aimlessly walked around to take more pictures near by the seminar house. Yes that was the high light of my day. For the rest of it I was coughing my lungs out and oozing phlegm. Damn I hate being sick especially in JAPAN!

Posted by thy at 10:40 AM | Comments (8)

October 10, 2003

Fushimi Inari Shrine

I should have done this last week after I took these pictures. I didn't see any reason to go about and rushing to get it done. Here however is the update on what I can remember of the whole event.

The place is a shrine right off the Keihan line at the Fushimi Inari stop. I tagged along with the Religion in Japan class since this field trip was open to anyone in the university. I wasn't so fond of my art class so I thought I should tag along to absorb some culture. The shrine at first was quiet an interesting place with all these torrii's. When we first started we were wondering why so many people where in their workout outfits. A few hundred steps later we found out why. A few hundred more we were at the summit. At the top it wasn't really all that interesting. I was just tired of walking and my camera's battery died. We (Maureen, Kristy, Thomas, Kelly, ...) went down the hill only to loose track of where we were, then end up taking the wrong exit and got lost in the woods. Then found our way back to the Keihan line with the help of two school girls. When we got the train station we were two stops away from where we should have been. Yes that's my adventure! Have fun viewing the images! Comments are encouraged!

Posted by thy at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)