Good bye fall colors

It’s already December, Christmas is coming, and most of the trees have already lost their leaves. But before the great fall, there is the last red burst, and Arashiyama was really enjoyable when it came to that.

So red, so pretty.

Final burst.

Good bye fall colors, until we meet next autumn.

 

 

Street bento in Arashiyama

If you don’t know what a bento is, it is the Japanese lunch box, that almost everyone in Japan uses. Boxed lunches are sold almost everywhere, from convenience stores to fast food restaurants. There is even a shop right in front of my school that sells nothing but a variety of boxed lunches.

People who come to Arashiyama are probably going on a hike, or exploring, and people of the town know that. So, right out of the station, we found these two old ladies with this bento display (they are part of a chain of station convenience stores called la gare)

The “La gare” flag on the right of the stand (they also sold bottled green tea)

 

All the sets were ¥500 (which is a little high for some of the sets, but okay for the others) there were also onigiri but they were almost sold out.

 

The Kobe Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are serious business in Japan, since the beginning of December, many places have started setting up their own lights, but the lights set up by the city are a whole different story. I admit that I haven’t seen the ones in Osaka yet (I think that the Umeda area needs some more of my attention) but my friends and I went to the ones in Kobe which are famous for their size. Known as the “Kobe Luminarie” (神戸ルミナリエ) they seem to attract people from all over Japan as well as foreigners.

Even the trees on the way are illuminated.

Then, the first arch appears.

Pretty tunnel of light, this was taken halfway through.

Last arc with a special design, then we go to the next display.

The second display.

The interior of the second display.

Detail from one of the panels.

There was also a raw of food stalls, surrounded by pretty but smaller lights, that my camera didn’t get well, but the whole thing was so pretty, huge and cheerful, accompanied by a lot of Christmas music during the whole display.

I found a small aerial view of the second display. to show big the thing is.

The weird thing though is that it was the police organizing everything, and although people were so crowded, there weren’t any problems (I wish I could say the same about the MUCC concert).

Steam train display in Arashiyama

This is one for all the train lovers out there, this display was next to the station leading to the mountain itself ( Saga Arashiyama station) right in front of the 19th century hall (which unfortunately I didn’t visit). It’s a steam engine from the 19th century, but unfortunately there wasn’t really a info card next to it, only a notice for not climbing.

The locomotive seems to be just a display to give an idea of what’s inside.

I wonder what that is…

 

Two older ladies in Kimono

 

Fortunetelling at Shrines and Temples

I am not a really a person who is into horoscopes, fortunetelling and the likes, but the Japanese seem to generally like it. So in shrines and temples, other than the small bag like protection amulets, there are also various types of O-mikuji ( おみくじ) which are random fortunes written on pieces of paper.

I had no clue what these were, and the first time I heard about it was from one of the teachers in my class who asked us to write fortunes to our friends. I really felt bad for my teacher trying to explain to me what it was. Here is some Wikipedia about it.

The o-mikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. It includes a general blessing which can be anyone of the following:

  • Great blessing (dai-kichi, 大吉)
  • Middle blessing (chū-kichi, 中吉)
  • Small blessing (shō-kichi, 小吉)
  • Blessing (kichi, 吉)
  • Half-blessing (han-kichi, 半吉)
  • Future blessing (sue-kichi, 末吉)
  • Future small blessing (sue-shō-kichi, 末小吉)
  • Curse (kyō, 凶)
  • Small curse (shō-kyō, 小凶)
  • Half-curse (han-kyō, 半凶)
  • Future curse (sue-kyō, 末凶)
  • Great curse (dai-kyō, 大凶)

It then lists fortunes regarding specific aspects of one’s life, which may include any number of the following among other possible combinations:

  • 方角 (hōgaku) – auspicious/inauspicious directions (see feng shui)
  • 願事 (negaigoto) – one’s wish or desire
  • 待人 (machibito) – a person being waited for
  • 失せ物 (usemono) – lost article(s)
  • 旅立ち (tabidachi) – travel
  • 商い (akinai) – business dealings
  • 學問 (gakumon) – studies or learning
  • 相場 (sōba) – market speculation
  • 爭事 (arasoigoto) – disputes
  • 戀愛 (renai) – romantic relationships
  • 転居 (tenkyo) – moving or changing residence
  • 出產 (shussan) – childbirth, delivery
  • 病気 (byōki) – illness
  • 縁談 (endan) – marriage proposal or engagement

The o-mikuji predicts the person’s chances of his or her hopes coming true, of finding a good match, or generally matters of health, fortune, life, etc. When the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes in the temple or shrine grounds. A purported reason for this custom is a pun on the word for pine tree (松 matsu) and the verb ‘to wait’ (待つ matsu), the idea being that the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach itself to the bearer. In the event of the fortune being good, the bearer has two options: he or she can also tie it to the tree or wires so that the fortune has a greater effect or he or she can keep it for luck. Though nowadays this custom seems more of a children’s amusement, o-mikuji are available at most shrines, and remain one of the traditional activities related to shrine-going, if lesser.

A box of Omikuji in a temple in Kyoto, you pay some money and pick one.

These one have a small lucky cat (招き猫 read “ManekiNeko”, literally “beckoning cat”) attached to them.

Dotonbori hotel, WTF Japan?

I usually walk to places which are withing walking distance, and this makes for some random sightseeing, since I live near the city center.

So, on the first time I went to Mandarake, I passed by this thing, and to tell the truth, I don’t even know how to describe it. So see for yourself.

 

I don’t really know how these guys are comfortable hanging around the huge heads. These things are just creepy.

I don’t really know who those four faces are, but the hotel’s website provides this explanation.

From the left, “ Asian, African, Arabian, Western”. They were created with a desire to welcome guests from all over the world to our hotel. We think head carvings on the pillars undoubtedly leave a strong impression. Please take a look at the back of pillars, too! You will see the different buttocks for each.

Wait… WHAT? Now I have to go and look at their backs…. or not.

 

Mandarake, a weird otaku heaven

A place like Mandarake (まんだらけ= mandaraké) isn’t really for everyone, and depending on your interests, it could be very interesting or insanely boring. To begin Mandarake is a chain of shops that specializes in used anime, manga and game goods. They also have an area for cosplay costumes (Not used) and they are one of those shops known for its retro merchandise (but of course the hardcore gamers of the internet argue that it’s not that good at it.) but for a regular person like me, their collection of retro games and consoles sent me on a trip down memory lane.

There are two Mandarake shops in Osaka, but I have only been to this one in Shinsaibashi (Since I haven’t been to Umeda yet). The only thing I hate about this shop is that the isles are so narrow they can’t even fit two normal people (which is also the case with Donki)

(I know that it is lame to include apologies in blog posts, but taking photos isn’t allowed in shops so some of the photos are blurry)

Rows are rows of manga, for two floors, one of them dedicated to female audience… if you know what I mean.

Used games for every console, and I found stuff as recent as Pokemon X and Y. The prices vary according to the condition of the product though.

When I said every consoles, I meant EVERY consoles

Retro games need retro figures, there were many of these, ranging from Doraemon to Gundam and everything in between

This is the buy back counter, people bring their old stuff around, but I don’t know how it exactly works for things other than game consoles (because I only asked about those)

Okay, there is also a cosplay floor, but I couldn’t take pictures, because they had a sale on some stuff on the same floor (I fancied one of the Kotetsu figures from Tiger & Bunny) so it was crowded (also the phone ate some photos up).

Another thing is that there are many salespeople are in cosplay especially on the cosplay and Female Audience floor.