Although there is still snow on the mountains and I’ve just purchased an ultralight jacket (super warm, if a little puffy), it is now officially Spring!
I know it is now officially Spring because a) there were an awful lot of festivals marking its arrival, and b) because I’ve handed in all of my assignments and the Spring vacation is now upon us!
Setsubun is the day before the arrival of Spring and lots of festivals take place to mark this celebration. The aim of Setsubun is to rid oneself of misfortune. I attended a ceremony at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto with a friend. Read more about the event here:http://www.kyotoguide.com/ver2/event/event%20archive2-.htm. Here we saw a Geisha (or Maiko as they are referred to in the Kyoto dialect) performance. I’ve never experienced this before, and it really was beautiful. The timelessness of the dance was fascinating. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to watch it. Once this performance was over, monks ascended to the outdoor stage where the women were performing, and threw packets of dried soy beans into the crowd. To receive one of these packets, and to eat as many beans as equal to your age, is meant to provide the individual with health and happiness. Although I didn’t actually catch one of the packets (my coordination skills have never been outstanding), a little girl kindly gave us hers, so all was not lost!
That evening another celebration took place, this time at Yoshida Shrine, which is just next to the university. It seemed that this celebration was exceedingly popular, as the entire area was packed with swathes of people. Although this made seeing anything that was happening virtually impossible, we still managed to see some pretty spectacular food stands, which seem an art form in themselves!
As it is the Spring break (hooray for two months of adventuring!) I am heading off to Hokkaido tomorrow. Hokkaido is the northernmost island of the archipelago of Japan and therefore will be exceeding cold! We’ll be visiting the Sapporo Snow Festival there:http://blog.gaijinpot.com/sapporo-snow-festival/ which looks like a lot of fun – loads of ice sculptures and event slides made of ice!
On that note, I’d better go and finish packing all of the warm clothes that I own…
You can read about all of Jolif’s adventures by reading her blog: http://jolifguest.wordpress.com/
She also tweets!: https://twitter.com/jolifguest