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.

Boiled Tofu, the Arashiyama specialty

I am not really familiar with tofu, I only read so much about it as a vegetarian substitute to meat in some recipes, and the sweet wrapping of inarizushi (a type of sushi that consists of sushi rice in a thin sweet fried tofu bag, and is one of my favorites).

But in Arashiyama, they have a specialty called (湯豆腐 = yudofu, Literally hot water tofu) which is a variety of boiled tofu with dipping soy and dashi sauce.

Tofu in steaming hot water on the right, sauce on the left.

Although bland in taste, the tofu was soft and warm (and so compelling to add cute :3 faces to)

The sauce gives the tofu flavor

Here is the final product, itadakimasu~





The owl bringer of good luck

In Egypt an owl is anything but a symbol of good luck, and though I admit that owls are so cute, I never expected them to be bringers of luck of any kind.

I japan it’s a bit different, Owls are a good luck charm (I already knew that before I came to Japan from my Japanese teacher who loves owls and used to keep one as a pet.)

So when I saw those owl good luck charms in Arashiyama, I wasn’t really surprised, but since I like cute things (you probably noticed by now) I decided to share them with you.

So many colors

Those ones were even cuter (With bonus frog ones)

Extras: Glass frog lucky charms