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Christmas in Kyoto

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Monthly flea market at Kitano Tenman-gu (Tenjin-san)

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.

the Haiden (main shrine) at Kitano Tenman-gu
His favorite part about our trip to Ireland was "eating in Dublin".

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.

soy sauce grilled corn at Tenjin market
One of the cool features of the shrine was this big marble cow that everyone would go and rub, then rub an ailing part on their bodies.

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.

side of Sanjusangen-do
They were so excited about the pineapple candy, they gave us a paper fan from one of the matsuri (festival). We were a little embarassed, as it was just a pineapple, but the wife was so excited about it. It was really cool drinking coffee and tea and talking about our different cultures. It was interesting trying to explain Jesus, Mary and Santa Claus! We finally headed out around 6pm, and caught the bus back towards our hostel.

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.

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Monthly flea market at Kitano Tenm…
Monthly flea market at Kitano Ten…
the Haiden (main shrine) at Kitano…
the Haiden (main shrine) at Kitan…
soy sauce grilled corn at Tenjin m…
soy sauce grilled corn at Tenjin …
side of Sanjusangen-do
side of Sanjusangen-do
sacred ox at Kitano Tenman-gu (men…
sacred ox at Kitano Tenman-gu (me…
Kitano Tenman-gu shrine
Kitano Tenman-gu shrine
lantern at Kitano Tenman-gu
lantern at Kitano Tenman-gu
the Haiden (main shrine) at Kitano…
the Haiden (main shrine) at Kitan…
stone lanterns at Kitano Tenman-gu
stone lanterns at Kitano Tenman-gu
writing out an ema or prayer pla…
writing out an 'ema' or prayer pl…
shrine at Kitano Tenman-gu
shrine at Kitano Tenman-gu
prayer plaques at Inari shrine (in…
prayer plaques at Inari shrine (i…
Monthly flea market at Kitano Tenm…
Monthly flea market at Kitano Ten…
the tako-yaki man
the tako-yaki man
takoyaki at Tenjin market
takoyaki at Tenjin market
sweet potatoes covered with sugar …
sweet potatoes covered with sugar…
Tenjin market
Tenjin market
Tenjin-san market (every 25th of t…
Tenjin-san market (every 25th of …
monk at Tenjin market
monk at Tenjin market
dried fruit and seeds at Tenjin (K…
dried fruit and seeds at Tenjin (…
Japanese Santa Claus!
Japanese Santa Claus!
Kyoto
photo by: ys484