10/24/11   –   8:55

This entry is going to be a little long because it has a ton of pictures and a ton of content. I actually spent three consecutive days commuting back and forth between Kyoto this weekend. It’s 700 yen round-trip a pop, but I REGRET NOTHING. I already detailed my visit to Toji in the last entry so this one’s going to be about the other big event, the 時代祭り [jidai matsuri] – Festival of the Ages.

The originally scheduled date was supposed to be Saturday but when I arrived at the Imperial Palace,  I, along with many other tourists, was severely bummed to see this sign:

“Due to rain, the festival has been postponed until tomorrow.” Funny thing about the sign was that I got flagged down by a tourist couple who first asked me if I spoke English, then asked me to read the sign. This means that

1) They thought I looked like I spoke English and

2) They assumed that I could read the sign.

I don’t know what they thought I was: A Japanese who could speak English? A foreigner who could read Japanese?

Anyway, I strolled the grounds of the old imperial palace for a bit which was pleasant, and then figured since I was here, I might as well go to the Heian Jingu shrine. On the way I noticed that Kyoto is one of the only cities I’ve seen so far with street signs. This kind of makes sense seeing as it may be one of the only cities laid out in a grid so that street signs actually work.

Upon arrival at Heian Jingu, my first impression was that the temple had a very Chinese feel to it. And this was not due to the masses of Chinese tour-groups milling about the entrance. Speaking of which, I had a not-so-good experience with some Chinese tourists. I went up to the main building of the temple and spotted a little girl decked out in a strikingly pink kimono. I wanted to take a picture but didn’t want to freak her out so I got a back shot and called it a day. Then this Chinese woman ran up the stairs, didn’t even ask the girl if she could snap a photo and proceded to pose next to her while gesturing wildly and yelling in chinese at her friend to get her with this kimono-clad child. I was so angry at her. First of all, if you’re going to be that obvious about wanting a picture, the least you could do is ask. Second, you might be a tourist trying to capture the culture but remember that it’s still culture. The girl was at Heian Jingu for a shichi-go-san shrine visit, not to be a prop for your travel photos. That lady didn’t even treat the girl as a person and that is inexcusable. Friggin’ shameless is what that is.

And then I went to Book Off near Sanjo station and it made me forget about the situation and I hopped on a train and went to band practice yay. :3

When I got home, host-mom and I were talking about how there was an 80% chance of rain in Kyoto the following day and whether I should go. She kept saying how it only happens once a year and how it would be a good cultural experience, which I know are good points, but the 700 yen train fares do take their toll, especially for a third day in a row. We actually didn’t make a decision that night.

~ ~

I woke up and there was a bento already made for me next to my breakfast. I took that to mean I should probably go. And after doing some laundry, that’s exactly what I did.

So yes, the Jidai Matsuri. It really should have a tagline saying “History: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Basically, its a parade of people in traditional costume showcasing hundreds of years of Japanese history starting from the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800s back till before the year 800. Prior to the parade, all of Japanese history was just chillin’ on the grounds playing with their cell phones and fancy cameras. It was rather amusing.

You know what else is amusing? I asked these people if I could take a picture of them without realizing that 「写真を撮っても大丈夫ですか?」”Is it alright if I take a picture?” sounds a whole lot like 「写真はとっても大丈夫ですか?」 “Is the picture very alright?” Had a good laugh there. After the awkward confusion part, of course.

I took a spot near the main gate and camped out with my camera. As far as the parade goes, my favorite was the fife-and-drum-corps of the Meiji patriots aka the young men who supported the new government against the old feudal one. [I mean. Flutes, young guys, and the 1800s. What else could I ask for?] Other notable characters include Oda Nobunaga [of Samurai Warriors fame] […jk], Sei Shonagon [author of the Makura no Soshi], and Murasaki Shikibu [author of the Genji Monogatari]. I’ll just let the shots tell the story, though.

Also, I was really entertained by the amount of expensive camera equipment concentrated within the vicinity. It was sort of crazy. The value of all the camera equipment on the grounds could probably top a quarter million dollars easy.

Afterwards, I visited Yasaka Jinja in Gion, the old geisha district. I topped that off by using my starbucks gift card and getting a maccha green tea frap. It was… out of this world delicious. I feel like the Japanese have a discerning taste for green tea as it is, so starbucks really wanted to get it right. And they did.


Random thoughts:

– Manami said the word “chocolate” like it rhymed with “debate.” And on my way home I was jumping through hoops with the English language to find out why she pronounced it that way. I tried to find words that end in -ate but are prounced like they rhyme with soot [… also a stupid pronunciation]. I could only come up with surrogate, pirate, emirate, and prelate. You know what else I came up with? The conclusion that English pronunciation makes no sense at all.

– There was a section on the Japanese news tonight entitled 「中国モラル事情」 “A Report on Chinese Morality.” All I can say is “oh my god.” It was basically a whole bunch of clips of [mainland] Chinese people being awful, yelling at store clerks and each other, having road rage, etc. They even took a security video and counted how many people ignored an injured woman and her infant in the street after a traffic accident. Eighteen. And seven minutes before someone finally pulled them out of the street and called for help.

Also, according to this program, a recent survey conducted in China says that 68% of those polled agreed with the statement “Honest people are on the losing end of the deal.”

The program went on to show some traditional Chinese expressions that highlight a more selfish side to morality.

落井下石 – “When a person falls in a well, throw rocks at them from above.”

二人不看深井 – “Two people can’t look into the same well.”

Er. Wow. How could Japanese public television broadcast something that one-sidedly attacks another country so blatantly? Not very diplomatic, I’d have to say.

Sorry to end on that note, but do look forward to a long overdue Seihin Corner pretty soon :] I’ve got a lot of stuff lined up. :D

2 Responses to ““遠き幻に~””
  1. I found your photos very alright, indeed.
    Also, I’m going to keep the thing about throwing rocks at a well-dweller in mind.
    Hope you’re enjoying Japan (seems so, so wish granted I guess).

  2. Go Fujita says:

    Just a note on the 「中国モラル事情」.

    The news of the infant has been on the top headlines for almost a week now . . . this includes sites like CNN and BBC. It’s not only in Japan.

    I haven’t actually seen the program you’re talking about, but I get the feeling it could be a short documentary like segment on the matter.

    That is not to say that discrimination doesn’t exist. This, for another day, but it might interest you that there was a ordeal where a Chinese couple was denied service in a Korean owned shop in Oaks Mall earlier this year.

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