Being Part Of The Gion Matsuri

This is the story of how I became part of the Gion Matsuri (祇園祭).  Not just a spectator this time, but an actual participant!  Yes! A Filipino in the Gion Matsuri! #proudfilipino right here.  Hopefully, many of you could experience what it feels like to be part of this in the future!

Matsuri (祭) means”festival” in English.  So the Gion Matsuri is a festival which happens in one of Kyoto’s oldest districts, Gion.  There are a string of events running from July 10 to July 24 every year.  However, the three main events usually occur on the three Sundays during the above dates.

The first one is dubbed the Omukae Chochin (July 10; welcoming lanterns) which serves as the beginning of the festival and was the one I joined.  The second one is the Yamaboko Junko (July 17; Grand Parade) and Hanagasa Junko (July 24; umbrella parade).

The opportunity was out of sheer luck since the school was inviting students for part-time jobs as parade volunteers.  One of my friends came to me and invited me to join.  Everything was to be provided for (bento and yukata) and it was very hard to resist the chance to be part of one of Japan’s greatest festivals.  At first, we were skeptic of being accepted due to language barriers but my friend gave me some pre-interview training in Japanese in order to ensure that I could be able to answer questions.  All those Japanese classes are finally showing their value!  What’s more interesting is that there are no rules (that we know of) against foreigners volunteering for the festival.  Although knowing Japan, there must be some kind of limit to it.  Nonetheless, we were happy campers and waited anxiously for July 10 to come.

The process was quite easy: just show up in Yasaka Shrine on the arranged time and date and just present your ID.  The yukata (summer kimono) will be handed to you.  They were quite strict with undergarments though and everything had to be white.  After dressing up, we were given a nice unagi bento which should prep us for the work ahead.

At exactly 3pm, an old guy called out our numbers and arranged us in formation.  The numbers were assigned on (what we believe) the basis of companies who sponsored the event.  We were quite nervous as we patiently waited for the lanterns that were going to be assigned to us.  We ended up not carrying any.  Little did we know that we had to pull some sort of musical lantern cart later on!  After all the arrangements were finished, it was time to commence the parade.

*I would have to give full credits to my friends Yan, Eki, and Xiaotong for taking all these awesome pictures for us.  Thanks guys!

Here is a photo showing us pulling the cart!  We were numbers 4, 11, 12, and 13 which meant that we were almost in front of the entire parade.  And yes, the cart was very heavy but the group effort made it fun and enjoyable.

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There were various chants from the back which complemented the drum beating that occurred in front.  The hardest job was being the one who pulled from the center because you had to steer and make sure that it did not stop.  We all took turns for this task.  Our arms were trembling after the parade.

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It was very nice to experience being part of this traditional Japanese festival.  We could really feel that we were Japanese.  Even the Japanese friends we made during the parade shared similar feelings as well.  The level of organization, discipline, and commitment were truly Japan.  Our fellow Japanese participants were surprised that we were foreigners and were happy to chat with us along the way.

Here, we just passed OiOi Kyoto and into the busy Shijo-Kawaramachi intersection.  The center of Kyoto was looking at us!

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Our friends zoomed in!  China, Indonesia, Philippines, and Taiwan represent!

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The intermission was at the Kyoto Municipal Hall where politicians gave speeches.  Wonderful performances by kids were in display as well.  Sadly, we did not have a lot of pictures of them.  More men in yukata pictures then!  The girls love it!

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Some of the lanterns that were part of the parade.  Since these guys were at the front, their lanterns said omukae which translates into “welcoming” in English.

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After the intermission, it was time to head back to Yasaka Shrine.  Obligatory group photo, of course!  Thank you guys for coming!  楽しかった!

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Kyoto: Daimonjiyama

My friends and I have started a travel group called DIY Travel Japan. We aim to share our DIY travel experiences in Japan to the world through blogging and vlogging.

Since I am co-contributing to the group, I’ll be sharing our content here in my blog as well.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been to Kyoto’s Daimonjiyama many times. Weekly, in fact.

This however is different because it shows group dynamics.  Real people, real events, and real interactions with Japan.

For the complete details on how to DIY this trip, check out Conquering Kyoto’s Mountains.

Please watch in HD and don’t forget to like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more.:)

Thank you and enjoy!

Kyoto Time Lapse! +GoT Ep. 3 Is Now Loading

You know that feeling when you’re so immersed into whatever you’re doing that you don’t realize a week just passed?  That was last week.  Whew.

First, nothing delights me more than speaking to my girlfriend properly.  Not just sending some random emoticons and late messages.  I’m talking about real conversations in real time.   Maybe I’ll do a piece on long-distance relationships some time in the future.

Second, as you might have suspected in this post’s title, I cannot wait for GoT to fully load.  Given Japan’s internet, it should be over before I finish writing this post.  And yes, *spoiler alert*, John Snow is alive!  Ep 2’s ending was something else and a total rebound from the always-dismal season opener.

Third, I am still dumbfounded with how the Spurs lost to the Thunder.  I know how damn good the Spurs are and losing the series in 6 games was really below expectations.  No wonder Pop’s interview was so dry.  But, it’s also exciting how the Thunder will size up against GSW.

This time lapse shows the Nishijin area of Kyoto where you the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) is located.  This was shot for roughly 6 hours on a 5-second interval.

Should be a great week ahead!  Hope you have an awesome week, too!

 

Time Lapse: Kyoto Sunset

Found a way to break out of the apartment rooftop contraption.  All it took was opening one of the laundry room windows. *insert clever laugh*

Golden Week went by really quick. Too quick.  I’m still recovering from all the lost footage in Otsu but it is what it is.

Sunsets are always beautiful.  The transition from various degrees of yellow to various shades of orange is a sight to behold.  It is quite hard to use a negative word to describe a sunset.  It’s one of the main reasons I jog in the afternoon.  Lately, it’s been quite tricky to time them due to the longer daytime so I just tried to leave the camera shooting for a couple of hours while I went out for a jog.

E.M. Goldratt’s Critical Chain was a fantastic novel on business.  It was a lot about what runs in the minds of different levels of managers across different institutions.  Project management (and this does not only apply in business) is something that is dynamic.  Not unlike what most business textbooks say.

And this is what really is exciting about testing assumptions.  Assumptions make or break any mode of thinking.

Now I understand why one of my undergrad professors always nagged us about what our assumptions were.

Enjoy the sunset!

 

 

Time Lapse: Murakami and Kamogawa

My love for reading fiction is negatively correlated with my age.  When I was a kid, I would remember bringing home shortened versions of classic novels from the bookstore.  I had a ton of them.  You name it and I’ve probably read it.

As I grew up, things became very different.  Fiction became literally fiction to me.  It was too out there.  Too perfect.  It’s just one of those moments where you don’t know how it happened.

But then now, reality isn’t really that different from fiction.  There are only moments.  And most of my cherished moments in Kyoto are spent with nature.

Haruki Murakami is the only Japanese writer I know, which makes him my favorite by default.  I plant to read all his books while I’m here.  I didn’t even know he was born in Kyoto until I searched him on Google.  Anyway, I’ve just finished reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman about a couple of hours ago.  It was a fascinating collection of moments.  There’s still some beautiful weirdness in there, if you know what I mean.

Here’s this week’s time lapse.  I tried something new today by splitting one sequence into different vibes.

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Time Lapse: A New Take on Daimonjiyama

I think I may have taken too many subjects this quarter.  

I’m taking Finance, Business Research Methods, Statistics, E-Marketing, Nihonggo, zzzzzzz.  The curse of free education.  Why slack off, right?

This time lapse was taken two weeks ago.  I had no time this weekend to take a new one.  This one shows a different perspective and shows more of the mountain’s slope.

I hope I can take a new one next week!

 

Time Lapse: Uji and Mukaijima

Pink to green.

*This is quite a long post so if you just want to see the time lapse, scroll all the way down or click here.  Always in HD!

When you’ve been living in a city pocket for a reasonable amount of time, there’s always going to be this longing to go somewhere else.  Somewhere far.  This is what I have been feeling lately.

About a couple of weeks ago, my good friend Michael and his wife invited the group to his new place in Mukaijima.  However, we weren’t able to go last week due to unforeseen school events.  Yesterday was a fantastic day and we were all able to go.

Mukaijima is very accessible from the center of Kyoto.  From Karasuma-Imadegawa, we just took the subway and went all the way south and hopped off at Takeda to switch trains (Kintetsu).  From Kyoto station, you can just use the Karasuma line and head south (there are many alternate routes).  Ticket should set you back 500 Yen and about 45 minutes to get there.

Prior to heading there, I had trouble finding any bit of information about what to see and what to do.  Good thing I knew someone there!

My first impression upon going down the train station was the abundance of apartment buildings and the endless rows of fields.  It was very different from Kyoto (city center).  But this is still part of Kyoto nonetheless.

Roads were wider and cars dominated the streets.  Mukaijima Park was really nice and clean.  I found it hard to imagine that there was a cleaner place than central Kyoto.  Air quality is even better.  Another surprising thing about this place was children.  There were so many!  Maybe because this part of the city was more family-oriented.  Rent was a cheaper too, especially if you want to raise a family in a bigger place.  Supermarkets had better selection too.

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Mukaijima Park
We were able to go the Gakusei (Student) Center where my friend lived.  They made nabe (hot pot) for lunch and had some booze to spike the conversation.  For dinner, we made some freestyle sushi out of pickles, egg, sausage, and cucumber.  The combo was weird but it was delicious!

We got quite drunk due to the great bottle of sake that Michael had.  I think I got too drunk and lost my phone when we were chilling by Uji River.  BUT, we went back and found it (also chilling by the river).  Nothing gets lost here.  Except bikes and umbrellas!

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The spot where we found my phone.
It offers a different feel compared to the central Kyoto.  It is more laid-back and will nag you to sit outside, drink a beer or two, and feel the breeze.  Uji and Momoyama are also very accessible.  These are places famous for authentic Japanese tea and shrines.

WHEW!  I hope I didn’t bore you with that long post.

Thanks again, Michael and the wife for hosting!  Until next time!

*Nico Rosberg had a great race in China.  Things are looking good for Mercedes this season. 

 

Time Lapse: Sakura On High

I almost forgot to post a time lapse this week!  School started already last Friday so I’ll be very busy.  But I love doing this so I’ll try to find time and do my weekend posts.

This is a time lapse of the only sakura tree on top of Daimonjiyama.  Not the best of days, but the occassional cloud shifts intermittently allowed sunlight to pass through which looks kinda cool.

 

Time Lapse: Daimonjiyama

Hanami season has officially arrived.  So if you’re in Japan now, you are in-the-money!

I did my usual weekend things which is mostly reading, biking, and hiking.  But this weekend was something else!  The whole of Kamogawa was glittering with two things: cherry blossoms and people.  Therefore, I accomplished a substandard amount of vigorous physical activity.

The upside was I got to do more reading and shooting.  This week, I aim to finish Peter Bernstein’s Against The Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk which tells the story of none other than risk.  Who would have thought to write a book about it?  Risk is an inherent part of our lives.  It’s what drives people to do or not to do.

Here’s what I got while reading the mammoth this morning:

 

I also redid my hiking video!  You can see it here in My Weekly Hike in Kyoto.

Time Lapse: Rooftops

I didn’t care that much for rooftops until I got here.  The only rooftop that I remembered enjoying back home was the one at my friend’s house in Project 4.

When you live in a city where condos are the norm, it seems that there’s more to it than a smoking spot.

The rooftop of my apartment building is exclusively for laundry.  But that won’t stop me from doing a time lapse on the scenic view from above!  Being on the floor beneath it has its perks after all.

It shows the horizon outlining Western Kyoto.  Captured from 4 to 6PM.

Here you go!