Christmas in Kyoto
Kyoto Travel Blog› entry 11 of 37 › view all entries
It was my first time experiencing Christmas in a place where it is not celebrated, but it wasn't too weird, as being a nurse, I usually have to work holidays and it wasn't a big deal. Dave and me exchanged our "presents" at the hostel, I gave him a fancy set of chopsticks, I got a little "Year of the Cow" cermic bell, too cute! Our plans for the day were to check out the monthly market at Kitano Tenman-gu shrine, and many hit up the Kyoto museum or Sanjusangendo temple on the way to a coffee shop Dave found the day before.
I was really excited about going to the market, I love all the hustle and bustle, food, looking at the stuff people buy! Dave was excited too, mostly cause of the food. Anywhere involving food makes him happy.
We took the bus to Kyoto station, and from there to the Kitano Tenman-gu shrine (also known as Tenjin-san). It wasn't hard finding the market, everyone got off the bus at the stop, and we just followed the crowd. It was pouring rain, but there were still so many people! There was the smell of frying noodles and soy sauce, stands selling everything from plants, souvenirs, used kimonos, dried fruit, candies, fish... So many food stands too! I got some takoyaki (yum!) and Dave got grilled corn, chocolate covered banana, okonomiyaki, sugar coated sweet potato fries and some of my takoyaki. Geez! How does this kid stay so skinny?!?!
The shrine itself was pretty cool. People were lining up to give their offerings and prayers, and you would see the tiny little old ladies ringing the bell so hard, they had to make sure their prayer was heard! Since Tenjin-san is supposed to enshrine the deity for scholars and studies, Dave bought and filled out an ema or prayer plaque, since he's starting online college in January.
We wandered aorund the market for a few hours, I bought some hand-made wooden spoons and an owl phone charm, Dave bought homemade candy (surprise?) and a candy-covered pinapple slice for the coffee shop owner. I learned when you see a crowd of older Japanese ladies, that's a good place to shop! It was starting to rain, so we walked a couple of stops over and caught a bus back to Kyoto station. We tried going to the Kyoto museum, but it was closed, and the Sanjusangendo temple was closing (it was only like 3pm! What a bummer). So we headed to the back of Sanjusangendo temple, where the coffee shop was. It was awesome! Literally in this older couple's kitchen, they were so nice and welcoming! The husband spoke some English and with my minimal Japanese and we talked on for hours.
We were so tired, and we had to get up early the next day to catch the train back to Tokyo, we decided to have a feast, 7Eleven style. We bought sushi, doria, noodle soup, dumplings (a x-mas tradition for us... don't ask), and icecream, and took it back to the hostel. We ate it in the tatami common room, which was nice and warm, and hung out a bit checking e-mails and watching Japanese TV. Definitely a special and unique Christmas.