Meandering through Markets and Matsuri – 307

With typhoon Neoguri approaching, I decided to head out today before it arrived, just in case I’m housebound over the weekend.

I’m an avid fan of Timeout Japan and I’m always on that website, checking out what’s going on in Tokyo. Although many events are held over the weekend, today I was in luck!

My first stop for the day was Asakusa. For two days only (9th and 10th July this year) there is a Hozuki-Ichi, or a Ground Cherry Plant Lantern Festival. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?

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This ground cherry plant resembles a Chinese paper lantern, and the legend goes that a samurai’s apprentice saw the god of fire (Atago Gongen) in a dream, who told him about the magical powers of Hozuki. The next morning, the samurai apprentice discovered this ground cherry plant while cleaning the temple garden, and remembering his dream, he proceeded to claim that if an unripe ground cherry fruit is eaten at Atago shrine on 24th June, you will be cured of all ailments. Many people followed his advice and found that they were cured, hence the beginning of this festival!

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So, this festival is held at Sensoji temple in Asakusa every year and there are over 100 stalls selling Hozuki. You can buy the actual plant in a pot, or a whole branch with the pods, or even just the seeds. I honestly wasn’t too sure what I was looking at but the pods are a gorgeous orange colour, and they really do look like paper lanterns. But they weren’t cheap though. A whole branch cost about 1000 yen! But I guess it’s for decoration/luck/medicine.

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As always, there were plenty of food and drink stalls scattered between the Hozuki stalls. Most of the stalls also had these beautiful glass chimes tied to the branches/plants. They make a really nice tinkling noise when the wind blows. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy so it was a nightmare trying to get a good photo of them.

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After walking past most of the stalls, I then headed towards Kappabashi-dori, which is a street in between Asakusa and Ueno.

On my way to Kappabashi-dori

On my way to Kappabashi-dori

I particularly wanted to walk down this street as I read on Timeout that they still have Tanabata decorations up. Many Tanabata matsuri were held last weekend since the actual Tanabata day was on Monday (7th of July) but I couldn’t attend any as I had my JLPT exam on Sunday.

DSCF2352It was a good thing I left Sensoji Temple when I did, because when I was walking down Kappabashi-dori they were taking the decorations down!

Nooo! Taking down the decorations

Nooo! Taking down the decorations

I panicked and tried to power walk as fast I as could down the road to take photos of the decorations that were still hanging. Luckily, they had only just started taking them down so I managed to get a few shots.

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Part of the Tanabata tradition is to write wishes/poems on pieces of paper, and tying them to bamboo. Since this Tanabata matsuri started last weekend, most of the bamboo were dried up and basically dead when I was there. Boo!

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DSCF2341Since I walked all the way down this street, I ended up in Ueno. Before heading back, I strolled around Ueno Park and contemplated going into the National Science Museum and National Museum of Western Art. But then I discovered you have to pay to get in. That’s the one thing I don’t like about Japan – you have to pay to visit the museums/art galleries, unlike in London where most of them are free.

But outside the National Museum of Western Art, they have a reproduction of Rodin’s “The Thinker”. This was enough art for me, especially as it was outside and free to see!

Pensive

Pensive

So that concludes my day! I’m actually making some bread right now, and it’s currently proofing. At least I’m not going to starve if I do end up housebound this weekend, haha. I’m hoping that typhoon Neoguri will swerve off into the ocean, as I have so many things I want to do this weekend!

Thanks for reading!

 

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This entry was published on July 10, 2014 at 10:10 am. It’s filed under Japan and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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