Japan 2019 Day 6 - Omizutori Festival in Nara

Feb 1, 2020 5 min read


Oh, look at that. It’s the Omizutori Festival today.


Previously on…

Osaka

Higobashi APA Hotel


Good morning, Osaka.
Not the most interesting part of the town. It’s mostly offices here.

5 hours of sleep ๐Ÿฅฑ

Is this window meant to open this wide?

Gonna pop downstairs to grab some breakfast from the konbini.


This firm is using VR to showcase homes to prospective renters.


Dang, this omelette onigiri is good. I should’ve got another one.
The banana Fanta was okay.

Dotonbori

Wow, it’s just like my Yakuza games.

Dotonbori, the centre of the south half of Osaka.
Definitely the place to go if you’re visiting the city.


There’s a “spa” here I wanted to try called Club Amour (don’t Google that in public).
It’s like a soapland but it’s just the soap and thus cheaper than a soapland.

I finally got to try the nuru play that you always see in Japanese “documentaries”.
It was honestly a lot of fun. I’d pay just to be left alone in there.
You get to explore new senses that you don’t feel during more vanilla activities.

They let non-Japanese in too which isn’t that common outside Tokyo.
The prep is kinda awkward though unless you like brushing your teeth facing each other.

My girl was friendly enough but reviews are pretty mixed depending on who you get.
And while cheaper than a full soapland, it’s not that much cheaper.

They’re debating whether using Strike Witches for military recruitment was appropriate lmao.

Also, I wouldn’t trust the picture profiles.
Their catalog is home to some of the most hilariously bad photoshop you’ll see.

While I’d give my experience a ๐Ÿ‘Œ, just trying it once is enough for me.


Thanks, I hate it.


B L O W F I S H

Fun fact:
The blowfish in Sonic Racing Transformed was originally a puyo in the Japanese version.


Wow, it sure got busy over the past hour. It must be the lunchtime rush.


Actually been here once before in 2014 for a few nights.
I came here with a big Chinese group though so I never did any research of the area.


I’m only using Osaka as a hotel base this time so I still haven’t done any research.
Kinda hoping I just come across some nice restaurant on my way to the station.


Dang, this street is filled with tourists (including myself).

These touts’ throats must be raw by the end of the day.


An indoor fishing pool. Neat.


I love them all.


Past me: “Cool, a takoyaki place” *continues walking*
Future me: You can get food there! Why are you so bad at feeding yourself?

This place blasts out a playlist of takoyaki-themed songs such as these classics:

Takoyaki Song - Single ( ใŸใ“ใ‚„ใใฎใ†ใŸ) Udaka Kaori & Tako Ball Kids

ใŸใ“ใ‚„ใใƒใƒฌใƒซใƒคใ€้ซ˜็”ป่ณชใ€‘ใ€€Takoyaki-Hallelujahใ€€ใ€๏ผจ๏ผคใ€‘

If I have to get them stuck in my head so do you.


Why is there a vtuber on the billboard?
“Oh hey, a Tacobell. Never had that before.” *continues walking*

Namba Station Underground Mall


“Weird, I didn’t come across any restaurants. Guess I’ll have to settle for this station diner.”
I need to, like, bring a more impulsive friend the next time I travel.

It was OK.
Can’t remember what I even ordered. I think the one on the left was crab patties?

Anyway, time to head to Nara.

Tennoji Station

Train’s haunted.

Nara

Nara Station


Wow, I’m in Nara now.


Ok


I never get tired of seeing these long straight roads in Japanese cities.


Wow, Youtubers in the wild.


Cute bakery.
*continues walking*


Phew, gotta grab an energy drink. Sleep starting to catch up to me.

Now I feel worse. I don’t know why I keep drinking these things.

Outside the shopping district some guy was preaching about Jesus.

I was going to take a bus but I couldn’t figure out the schedule so I walked.
It was uphill all the way from the Nara train station to Nara Park ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ”ซ

Kofuku-ji Temple


I did end up passing by some slick looking temple though so that’s a plus.

[1 google session later]
It’s Kofuku-ji.
There was a fire 300 years ago and it was only rebuilt a few months ago.
That explains why everything is so clean.

It used to be the family temple for the Fujiwara Clan who famously married their daughters into the imperial family, allowing them control into the Heian court for 200 years.

Nara Park

That tree looks like it’s going to fall one day.

Wow, I’m in a forest now.



Those images are brutal.



Oh God oh fuck


If only we had listened to the signs ๐Ÿ˜ฑ


I accidentally switched off image stabilization and everything today came out blurry ๐Ÿ˜ญ


[insert pink panther theme]

Kasuga Taisha Shrine


Designated as a World Heritage Site, this is one of the more important shrines in Nara.
Kasuga Taisha is dedicated to the guardian deities of the city.
Those deities also watch over the Fujiwara clan who as you remember famouslymarriedtheirdaughtersintotheimperialfamilyallowingthemcontrolintotheHeiancourtfor200years.


Dude has a rain cover for his hat ๐Ÿ˜Š


Make a wish.


The shrine is famous for its many lanterns. Each of which was donated.


This could’ve been a cool shot if it wasn’t so blurry.


I didn’t feel like paying to enter the inner areas or hanging around to explore.

Nara Park


Wait a second, that horse isn’t even real!


Spooky…


Made worse by these crows and their creepy cries echoing through the forest.
It was exactly like my animes.



These things are supposed to be the sacred messengers of the Gods.


O-Oishii haha…
(The melon cream soda wasn’t that nice actually)
(I even forgot to rotate the bottle so the label is actually facing the camera ๐Ÿ˜ซ)

Todai-ji Temple

“Got some crackers, mate?”

Might as well check this place out while I’m here.
The Omizutori ceremony doesn’t start till tonight anyway.

Nandaimon Gate

That gate is unnecessarily big.
It’s like they’re expecting elephants to come through or something.


Humans for scale.


Your Buddhist temple isn’t complete without a couple of these bad boys.


Inside the gate…is another gate!
Not allowed to go through this one. Have to walk round to a side door.

Daibutsuden Hall


It’s 600 yen to enter the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) area.
It’s another World Heritage Site. Nara sure has a lot of these.


SuGOI DEKAI. It used to hold the record for world’s largest wooden building too.

Humans for scale.

Wowow.
Took me ages to walk across that courtyard lol.
The hall used to be bigger too before all the fires, earthquakes, wars, sabotage by rival sects etc.
Daibutsuden has been through a lot. The head of the Buddha statue even fell off at some point.


Wow wow wow wow wow

Why do I hear boss music?

I wasn’t originally planning to visit Nara if the Omizutori Festival wasn’t going on.
Thought I would be tired of cultural sight-seeing by now.
Todaiji is the city’s main attraction but it didn’t seem that exciting in photos.
I’ve seen tons of Buddhas after all but now, seeing it in person, I was blown away.
This seems to be a recurring theme on this blog…


The Buddha is accompanied by a Bodhisattvas on each side.

wtf are those guys doing?

[1 Google session later]
That pillar on the left has a hole in it the size of the Buddha’s nostril.
If you can squeeze through it you’ll be granted enlightenment in your next life.

I wonder how often does a tourist gets stuck.


There’s even a cute model of the hall and the other buildings within the temple.


The hall was closing early to prepare for the festival later.
They called for last minute entries over megaphones that could be heard throughout the park.

Nara Park

These aren’t my glasses.

“The stalls give the park such a fun vibe. All this food sure is making me hungry.”
*continues walking*


“Hey, that looks nice.”
*continues walking*

Oh wait, that poster…

To think we were in the same spot but at a different point in time.


On today’s episode of “Where the fuck am I?”


Back to civilisation.

Downtown Nara

Nara is a pretty convenient city to visit.
All the interesting places are all smushed into the centre.


I think this is my first time in a McDonald’s this trip.
I’m only using their toilet though.

Mochiidono Shopping Arcade

World’s OKest mart

This street is one of the oldest in Nara.
It’s the perfect place to find traditional sweets and crafts.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita Kara opening theme in Nara’s Mochiidono Shopping Arcade

Oh hey.

Eating dinner at Wakakusa Curry tonight.
Wow, look at me. I’m eating a proper meal for once.

The house recommendation: 4 Curry in 1 Plate

Spinach curry, mild curry, lamb brown curry and chicken curry.
Topped with steamed vegetables and papad.
Oishii ๐Ÿ˜‹

I didn’t like the lamb curry that much though.
I should’ve ordered some more toppings too. It was a pretty small dish.
Wish more restaurants had big “OUR RECOMMENDATION” stickers on their menu.


Wow, it got dark while I was in there.
Night time here is so much more peaceful than say Osaka or Tokyo.


Time to walk back up the hill…

Nara Park

Todai-ji Temple


Unsurprisingly, a park is pretty dark at night ๐Ÿ‘ป
Todai-ji has so many buildings other than the Buddha hall and they’re all so spread out.
Thankfully, I can just follow these guys because I don’t actually know the way.

Nigatsu-do Hall


Arrived just in time for the Omizutori ceremony to start.
Most of the festival is just for the priests. Only the ceremony at the end is of public interest.
Like, they do all these rituals where they can’t leave or speak for the whole period etc.

Something about how only during this time of the year the well underneath has water.
The Nigatsu-do Hall even gets its name from this time of the year.
The Gods are invited to come bless the water which can then cure illnesses and stuff.
The name Omizutori itself refers to this drawing of the well water.

It’s an annual festival that’s been going on for wellll over 1250 years.
When the festival is over it will be the start of the sakura blossoms.

Starting…

The ceremony at the end of the festival is called Otaimatsu and lasts for 2 weeks.
It’s done every night but the number and size of torches varies.
The days at the end are extra spectacular where they take all the torches out at once.
Today is just one of the early days though.


Big ol’ torches are brought out and the priests will wave them, drawing circles in the air etc.

Nyoooom~

Then the priest sprints across the balcony, showering embers over the public.
The burning embers bestow the public below with good luck and all that.

Aw yis, gimme that luck.

The torch is spun about, continuing to fling embers while the next priest starts their routine.
Occasionally the torch is smacked on the fence, like tapping the ash off a cigarette.
The sound of wood on wood echoes out in a really satisfying way.

This whole process was repeated 10 times.

Captivated

The organizers were shouting “turn off your camera flashes please” throughout.
Nobody did.
The crowd had a lot of elderly so I’m not sure they knew how to.

Also some kid with Asperger’s was having a fit at the back.


They smacked the last one extra hard causing a huge fireball to rain down.
*crowd oohs and sugois*
I thought they accidentally dropped the torch at first lol.
(It’s not this photo, I missed the last one)

End

It started raining half way. No, I didn’t bring an umbrella.

Nara Station

In Japan, you don’t thank the driver, the driver thanks you.

There were buses scheduled to take people back to the station.
I’m so glad I didn’t have to walk all the way back in the rain.

ureshii๐ŸŽต

Got a hot chocolate for the trip back ๐Ÿ˜Š

Just about ready to go to bed. Spent a lot of time on my feet today.
Like most days…

Osaka

Namba Station


Fuck.


Fuckkk.


FFF- oh hey, a conveyor belt. I’m fine with this.
Yeah, I already don’t like this station.

I was going to head back to the hotel but I recognised this exit.


I stayed in this hotel the first time I visited Osaka.
And underneath the hotel…


…is a supermarket!

Central Square Life


\Poi/


Kawaii


Sugoi dekai


He’s doing the anime thing! Supermarkets discount food late at night.


Disappointed I didn’t see anyone fighting over the bento boxes.



Wow~ Fancy~


Dang, Japanese cash machines are built.

Went to use the ATM before leaving and accidentally cut in front of someone.
I didn’t realise they were in the queue… ๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™‚๏ธ

Higobashi APA Hotel


I may have gone overboard buying snacks. Had to save some of it for breakfast.

  • Almond Crush Pocky โœ…
  • Corn chocolates โœ…โœ…โœ…
  • Tropical fruit juice drink โœ…
  • C1000 Vitamin Lemon energy drink โœ…
  • Curry Cup Noodle โœ…
  • Pino ice cream โœ…
  • Strawberry tart โœ…
  • Dango โœ…
  • Late-night discounted tuna futomaki โœ…

If I knew the corn chocolates were this good I would have bought more of them.
I ate like half the pack in 1 go and I never saw it for sale again.


Pino are bite-sized chocolate covered ice cream. Oishii.


Wash it down with complimentary water with the owner’s wife’s face on the bottle.

Epilogue


Nara is pretty close to Osaka. Less than an hour by train.

Lmao

This is the city centre but past Nara Park is basically all wild forest.
So practically, the centre is actually on the edge of the actual livable part of the city.
And holy shit, Lemon, nobody cares.


wow

Next time…

๐Ÿ”žOmake๐Ÿ”ž

—๐Ÿ”ž๐Ÿ”ž๐Ÿ”ž—


nani the fuck