Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Adventure of Missteps

I am sure that my friend Tim would agree with me that the best way to start the day is with a good cup of coffee. In fact I am of the persuasion that the only way to begin the day is with a cup of coffee. And so this story both begins and ends with a cup of coffee. A great way to both start and finish a day. Everything in the middle however is not quite so relaxing as a cup of java. It was a true adventure to be sure.

I woke up Saturday morning and made my morning cup of joe. Here I must give the obligatory thank you to my father-in-law for keeping me supplied in coffee. And I think that I must clarify, that there is Coffee here in Japan. It is just that it is not all that good, or when it is good coffee, it is really expensive. I keep a bag of coffee in my desk at work, because everyone else drinks, believe it or not, instant coffee. And I just can;t bring myself to enjoy it. So back to the story at hand. I sat down and enjoyed my morning coffee while Logan woke up and Jenny got ready to go. We were going once again to Kyoto to see and participate in another festival.

We learned about this festival from the Kyoto Visitor's Guide. This one looked very interesting. It was called the Mitarashi Matsuri. And it was described in this way. "Long, long ago while Princess Seoritsu was wading in the stream that flows through Shimogamo shrine, she saw a fine arrow floating towards her. She took the arrow home, and put it next to her pillow. That night, as she got into bed, the arrow turned into a handsome young man. Nine moths later the princess gave birth to Seoritsu Hime, the goddess of water enshrined at Shimogamo. Every year in July, Shimogamo Shrine celebrates the purifying powers of this deity in a ceremony called the Mitarashi Matsuri." We saw this write -up in the magazine and we decided that this was one for us to go and see.

We left the house sometime in the midmorning. We stopped at the grocery store for some breakfast goodness and some water. The temperature was predicted to be in the low to mid nineties with high humidity. We wanted to stay hydrated in the heat. We did not feel rushed and so we took our time in getting to the station. I was a bit dismayed however when we got to the train station and I noticed that we had just missed a train by one minute, and that the next train would not come for another half an hour. But wait; there was an announcement on the schedule board. The train that we missed was delayed five minutes and it had not arrived yet. What luck! We managed to get on the train, and we made it to Kyoto. Then we transfered to the subway and rode to the north side of Kyoto. We had never been to this particular shrine before. We were however armed with our trusty map and compass. Still I managed to get us a bit lost. We needed to walk east then head north. Well I did not go far enough east before turning north; and I walked too far north once we did go north. We turned around and managed to find the Shrine. But we found the back of walled grounds. We had to walk around the grounds, following the wall. We finally found an entrance and we exhaustedly walked into the park outside of the shrine.

We walked up along the path and into the shrine. We walked around the shrine for a bit and then we went over and took off our shoes and proceeded to wade up a stream. We were given a candle to light and we walked down into the water. The water was very cold, but on such a hot day it felt good. We waded upstream for a few meters where we lit the candle.

Next we went a few more meters up the stream where we placed our candle into the special candle holder. Then we climbed out of the water. Logan had to have a full change of clothes because the water came all the way up to his belly button. We changed his clothes and went over to drink a cup of delicious spring water. It is believed that drinking this water will ensure good health and vitality during the hot summer months.

But the adventure does not end here. We also decided that it was a perfect day to try and find a new restaurant that was in the area. It has been almost an entire year since we have had one of our favorite foods, hummus. We saw an advertisement for a place called, Falafel Garden. We have been waiting to be in the area to try and find the Falafel Garden. The directions in the ad were not very clear; but we were committed to finding it. We wandered the area where we thought it would be, getting weaker and weaker from lack of food. We finally decided to retrace our steps and we were able to find the restaurant about fifteen feet away from where we turned off the main street. If we had only stayed on the one street we started on for another minute or two we would have found it. We went in and ordered our food. It was delicious. Falafel and hummus after about a year. Wow, it was so good. We all relished each and every bite. And to top it all off, I followed it all up with a cup of rich and fruity arabic coffee.

I told you that this story would begin and end with a cup of coffee and so it has. Just one quick footnote to the evening. As we were sitting in our living room later that night we could see fireworks out our window. We could hear some booms and pops of fireworks. I opened the curtains and looked out the window, and we saw big, bright, colorful fireworks. All from the comfort of our living room.

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