Meigetsu Kangensai: The Moon & Me & A Whole Bunch of Strangers

So Japan does this grand thing where, on the 15th, or the 29th, or both and more dates of every month, most temples/shrines have flea markets. Can you imagine the madness that ensues? No? Well that’s okay, ’cause I’ll tell you a bit about it. At lunchtime Hilton casually announced this magic, so Lizzie, Steph and I hoped on the fun bus and walked on over past Kamagawa to the otera (see below). Steph only made it to just outside of the market since she had class, but since stalls were spilling over from the market it was okay. Then we went into a gosh dang wonderland, full of magical things where even the ‘cheap’ throwaway items were quality, especially compared to what’s sold at these in America. I walked away with this cute little fish bowl thing for just¥400 – amazing! – on top of some other goodies including an adorable ¥500 coin purse with these cute hippos on them.

When we’d been there for about 2 hours we’d seen most everything (including so freaking many cute plants in cute planters) and decided it was time to head back for class, but beforehand we stopped by a delicious-smelling boulangerie for this choco-version cinnabun and a chocolate cream sandwich. We stopped in the middle of Kamagawa to eat them, where we saw a weird setup of 2 plastic blow-up animals and 1 blow-up child. Modern art, I guess? Funny thing is they were gone when I passed by again that night, so who the heck knows. Anyways, the riverside snack was really nice and felt pretty Kyoto daigakusee-esque. Cool beans man.

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After class was homework time . . . or not! I heard that Shimogamo Jinja was having a music festival so I asked okaa-san about it, and apparently today was a moon-viewing festival (meigetsu kangensai) so off we went! I was expecting to roll out solo but alas, since she’s the sweetest person ever she came with me! I was trying to meet up with Steph but that didn’t happen for a few hours. In the meantime we partook in (aka sat down to watch and recieve from) sado, or tea ceremony at the shrine. A woman was performing the ceremony in the middle of a U-shape of tables, and miko (shrine maidens) served us matcha, then some fancy wagashi (traditional sweets) that was seasonally relevant. Yum! Afterwards we sat down in front of the performers to hear traditional instruments/music, during which okaa-san recognized Steph from a picture I’d shown her and dragged her over. She is so attentive to everything, it’s incredible! Afterwords she also bought us mitarashi dango and kuri yatsuhashi, which were super tasty and pretty much my dinner. Then there were 3 Heian Jidai dances, performed by 1 man, 4 priests (?) then 1 woman respectively. Super old-feeling and beautiful, from the dress of the dance to the music to the performance itself.

Afterwords we walked Steph kind-of to her station because okaa-san was worried about her, then we returned to poor otou-san who’d been waiting on dinner for us. Too sweet. After dinner we had tsukimi dango, which is specifically made and eaten around moon-viewing time. As every dessert here has been, t’was delicious. I retired to my room afterwords for a long bout of homework, but it was so worth the ~3+ hours of fun I had. An awesome first tsukimi!

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