My city’s Obon Festival was last weekend, which is a custom to honor the spirit of one’s ancestors. My co-workers helped us get ready, putting together the yukata and tying the obi. Many Japanese women these days don’t know how to tie an Obi the correct way and end up buying a pre-tied bow. Unfortunately, it seems like this is a custom that may eventually fade away unless people start taking more interest in learning how to do these practices. It’s so beautiful the way the bow is tied. During the Obon Festival, there are a ton of street food, games, and performances for everyone to enjoy. Near the end, everyone got together in the center of the area to dance Obondori together. These dances are in memory of people’s ancestors. Even though I didn’t know the dances, I still joined in and followed along. My co-workers were really happy to see that we were participating in these dances. I had a lot of fun dancing and wearing the yukata.
On Thursday, my friends and I went to Nara for the Lantern Festival and let me tell you, it was beautiful. Let me rephrase that, it was beautiful at night. The afternoon was filled with a lot of sweat, sun, and more sweat. When we first got to Nara Prefecture, we went to a soba restaurant that supposedly has the best soba. Some of us decided not to eat there and split into two groups since the guy we were with wanted to get to Nara to walk around and see temples and shrines. We did A LOT of walking and my feet were crying out in pain to me by the end of the day.
Nara is a very very beautiful place. If I had the chance, I would live there because it’s just amazing. Maybe eventually I would try to find a teaching job there, since I would love to live there.
We visited some temples and shrines throughout the city, but I would recommend Todaiji, which has the world’s largest bronze Buddha (shown in the first picture), and Toshodaiji. I’m someone who loves taking their time at sites, but unfortunately the heat and the walking got the best of me. I was more focused on not passing out rather than the sites. I wish I spent more time at Toshodaiji (pictures are below), since it was my first time there and it seemed like there was a lot to see. Toshodaiji was a peaceful area.
Deer roam around Nara, which is one of its charms. You can buy food to feed the deer, but beware, the deer can get aggressive if you have food. I like watching from afar. And be careful where you step!
Once it got darker, we walked up a walkway lined with lanterns. This led us to temples and shrines along the way. The path eventually led us to Todaiji. This was my second time to Todaiji, but this time it was at night and during the lantern festival. It was beautiful with all the lanterns lighting up the temple. However, there were SO many people there and we were pressed for time since we had to catch our train back to Mie, so we were rushed going through the temple. If I had the chance, I would stay there and soak up the atmosphere. There were monks praying, people praying, lanterns flickering, deer roaming… it was amazing. You could also see Buddha’s face peering through the window on the temple.
Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s even more beautiful in person. I’m so glad that I stuck it out through the day, even though I was super dehydrated and in pain, because I got to see all of this. Nara is one of my favorite places in Japan and I can’t wait to be able to return again to enjoy it even more.
I went to my first summer festival on August 3rd, in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture’s largest city. It’s summer festival time, so there are festivals all over Japan. My city will have its Obon festival in a few weeks. Ah I’m excited! I’ve always wanted to go to one.
There were a ton of stalls selling street food: a lot of yakisoba, gyoza, fruit, shaved ice, and more. There were also a ton of taiko performances going around the city, so it was nice to stop by and watch the groups perform. It was a fun atmosphere that’s similar to fairs back at home. We walked around, checked out the food and taiko performances. That clown looking thing you see above is Yokkaichi’s mascot. Each city here has a mascot to help define their city (ours is a deer). Most cities have a super cute mascot, but… yeah. It was kind of creeped out, but! I’m sure that ghost (it’s a ghost) has a huge significance to the people of Yokkaichi.
I’m sooo glad that the festival was under a covering (I can’t think of what it’s called right now… Someone help me! Awning?) because it’s super hot and humid here and it’s only getting hotter. The cover provided a tiny bit of relief from the sun and it wasn’t unbearable to walk around.
I had a fun time here and this was a good introduction to all the festivals Japan has to offer.