Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2005

I went to Gion Festival 祇園祭り last weekend in Kyoto. Last year, I went to the “Gion-eve”, they day before they prepare for Gion Matsuri. Have I been here in Japan that long!?

Gion is one of the, if not the largest festival held in Kansai. It is one of the 3 largest and most important festivals in Japan. Treasured from generation to generation, Japanese people enjoy Gion matsuri every year.  

Some phrases to describe Gion Matsuri could be…

人だらけ。 “hito darake” “nothing but freakin people everywhere”
満員電車状態。 “manindensha jyoutai” “freakin’ like a rush-hour train”
めっちゃ暑いねん。”meccya atsuinen” “It’s freakin’ hot”

Giant 2 story, 2 ton floats are wheeled around the streets, and dragged by what must be 40 men in order to turn them at what is the climax of the festival. More details can be found at this official site.

They even float by McDonalds… For an… Ice Cream Float. [joke.]

– Harvey

Small Cakes

Japan has really small cell phones!

But the desserts are even smaller…

Man. You don’t know how disappointing that is. I just can’t get used to it. Wow! Pasta dinner set for just 1500 yen! Salad, Pasta, Drink, and dessert! Great!

Pasta is normal sized, drink is normal sized, salad isn’t so skimpy either. But then the cheese cake arrives. Or, what will be a cheese cake when it grows up.

Eating it at a normal pace would have it offed in 2 bites, no joking. Staying in Japan for so long though has taught me to eat my cheese cake sliver by sliver. One cheese cake can last through a two hour conversation, especially with the help of the ice coffee you just never quite finish…

Of course. There are some exceptions.

Check the locations page for more details on this giant kakigouri!

– Harvey

Train Shots

There are a lot of train enthusiasts in Japan.

I have seem this happen more than once, but when a train is goign out of service, or a line is about to change, or a train has been remodeled there are always people crowded around to ride the last train, or get pictures when it arrives or leaves the station.

A few years ago when Toyoko-Line, the line that runs from Shibuya to Yokohama, was modified so that it would go straight from Shibuya to ChinaTown was modified it was the same hustle and bustle again. I have to admit though, I was there. It was kind of fun!

I was randomly in Tokyo on a trip when after I got off the train I was riding people started taking pics of it. I can’t even recall what line I was on… Does anyone know about this? I guess Tobu-sen. I think I was going from Ikebukuro to Saitama or something.

Anyway, new Japanese for today which I think is appropriate here is ミーハー (miihaa). If I’m using it right, it means someone who sees everyone doing one thing, or getting into some trend, so they follow the crowd. I guess I did that here.

But I got some good pics!

– Harvey

Shikoku: Sanuki Udon

I took a 3 hour road trip with some friends to eat udon.

Let me say that again.

Three hour trip to eat udon… Only in Japan.
The shop name was Gennai.

The trip was fun though! And the udon was good! And the shop had a peacock cage outside! [BONUS]

In Shikoku there is a type of udon called “sanuki udon” which is especially popular now it seems. Well, at least in Kansai it’s popular. We all piled in three cars just to go to one particular udon shop! Along the way we also stopped by a park, and continued down to Awajishima to get some fresh sashimi, but really, the purpose of the trip was udon.

The udon at this Gennai place was “手打ちうどん” te uchi udon. Hand-made udon. As you can see in the pic, the guy is cutting up the udon manually. In many places there are machines that prepare the noodle, and cut it automatically. I have heard that making udon or soba by hand is very tough, because a lot of presure needs to be applied in order to get the noodles the right density.

We had a type of udon which is served cold with tempura. Kind of like zaru-soba, but… Udon… The noodles tasted “fresh” and were stronger, a little bit tougher to bite through than usual noodles. Otherwise, I don’t know enough about noodles to make any other comparisons.

おいしかったです。

– Harvey