It’s been quite some time since the last post, but that doesn’t mean this website hasn’t been worked on. Its design is now what I would call completed for the moment. I’ve added a number of pages, and works are in place for other pages, notably the Gion Festival, or Gion Matsuri, in Kyoto.
The Gion Festival is one of the three big events in Kyoto, and requires a lot of research, and many pictures. It may take one or two more days before this page is completely done. As soon as it’s done, it will be linked on this post below, as well as featured on the front page of this website.
From now on, big changes will be in place. Starting from the month of August, there will be a blogpost explaining the updates made on this website once a week. This weekly update will make it easier for the users to understand how much work there has been done in a certain week, and it will make it simpler to navigate to those new pages.
Another big change will be on social media. No updates have been posted for a long time because this website was still heavily under construction. Fortunately, thanks to the Gion Festival and other activities in Japan, I will post new pictures there every day from now on.
So stay tuned, and be sure to follow DiveIntoJapan!
From now on, I will add a few days on the Special Days page every day, until it is complete. Once this is done, I will start working on the Discover section of the website, adding information about every prefecture of Japan.
An informative page the meaning of each prefecture’s flag will also be added. I’m sure vexillologist will be very pleased with that! Finding flags and vexillology very interesting myself, I will try to add as much information about the many flags of Japan, and perhaps create a special section just about Japanese flags later on. This will, of course, depend on the amount of information and pages created about the subject.
Anyway, you can expect to have more updates from now on.
Make sure to follow me on different social medias listed below, and see you later with a new update!
Banner of the festival “Kyo no Nagashi Bina”This Saturday, March 3, was the famous Hina Matsuri, also known as Girl’s Day. As explained on this page about this Japanese special day, the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto still celebrates the old custom of releasing hina dolls down a water stream in order to let float one’s misfortune and bad spirits away.
The main event starts at 11:00 in the morning, but it is advised to come as early as 9:30 to have a good spot, as hundreds of people, both Japanese and tourists come there every year to see this ancient tradition.
When passing the shrine’s gate, a line of people waiting to buy straw baskets with hina dolls inside. The smaller ones is meant for children, while the bigger ones are for adults.
Before the main event starts, it is possible to take a commemorative picture next to the hina dan. Once that is done, you can see how shrine maiden dress the woman who will take the role of Ohina-sama, the Empress. Even if you came too late to see the main event from one of the front row spots, I highly recommend watching the kimono dressing, a unique experience!
First, Ohina-sama comes in dressed in white and red as a Miko, or shrine maiden. Two other shrine maiden, dressed in white and an unconventional dark blue then start to dress Ohina-sama, cloth by cloth. This tedious task results in a magnificent kimono dress of about 10 layers, which can add up to a weight of about 10Kg (22lbs)!
The center of the kimono shows how meticulous this task is, with its beautiful gradient of white, slowly turning into a soft purple color.
Once both Ohina-sama, the Empress, and Odairi-sama, the Emperor, have been dressed up, they come forth and take a seat before the ceremony begins.
One of the priestesses starts to purify the other priests, Ohina-sama and Odairi-sama, the special attendants as well as the general public.
The high priest will receive a one of the straw baskets by one of the priestesses, and then proceed to let it float slowly away.
After that, it’s Ohina-sama and Odairi-sama‘s turn to let the dolls float away. Ohina-sama is helped by two shrine maiden due to how cumbersome her dress is. Both walk slowly down the stairs toward the streamlet, where they sit down before releasing their hina dolls.
Next up are two Maiko. These young girls are Geisha in training.
They start by bowing, and proceed to release their dolls too.
After that come important community members, politicians, as well as a selected pair of kindergartners, let their own dolls float down the streamlet.
Of course, the Nagashibina wouldn’t be complete without a pair of Kyoto Image Characters. Tawawa-chan, the girly mascot for the Kyoto Tower and Yoroi Kotaro, the mascot of Boy’s Celebration Day came in with their own straw basket, which they dropped down on the water.
At the end, a group of selected kindergartners go in front of Ohina-sama and Odairi-sama to sing somewhat traditional songs.
Once they are done, everyone can go and let their own hina dolls float down the Mitarashi-ike streamlet, letting all your misfortune and bad spirits go away.
The warmth of spring has finally come after the last few weeks of cold. This weekend has been especially warm here in Kyoto with temperatures rising up to 21 degrees Celcius (70F)!
As to be expected with such a gentle temperature, the Imperial Palace of Kyoto has seen different buds open and bloom beautifully. Trees such as the Japanese allspice, also known as wintersweet, as well as the Japanese Plum trees Ume were the first to flourish.
Both the Japanese allspice and Ume trees produce a wonderful fragrance, not only within the park but also around it. A delicious scent of spring can be smelled before even entering the park. This peculiar smell is the result of the many plants and trees within the park turning green and flourishing again after the cold. This aroma changes when a new tree starts to bloom, giving you another reason to go and wander around the Imperial Palace once again.
As for now, the sakura trees will start to bloom around March 21, together with the peach trees Momo no ki. But at that time, you will definitely be able to enjoy the beautiful pink cherry blossom all around Kyoto!
This blog / website is a place where you will find tons of information about Japan, from how to prepare for the voyage, to the most sumptuous places to visit. You’re probably thinking to yourself that there already are hundreds -if not thousands!- of blogs and website about traveling to Japan, temples and shrines to visit, gorgeous hiking places, etc…
And YES! You are completely right! But I have yet to find one website or blog has every piece of information possible about Japan. There are thousands of obscure temples and shrines with no information in English, and many with very little information in Japanese even! Surprising, right? Not really. Most sites or blog like to write about popular places, and tend to leave the little known location out.
Think about how many times you have seen information about the dazzling Golden Pavilion of Kyoto, or the breath-taking Mount Fuji. You will literally get millions of search results on Google. But what about the Fujii-dera of Tokushima? The scenic Shogunzuka? Or even the Gioji Temple in Arashiyama? While these places are beautiful, you will find a lot less articles about them.
The first time I came to this realization was when I was doing some translation work on temples and shrines in the Shiga Prefecture. Several had not even a Japanese Wikipedia page, and even very little information on Japanese websites. That’s when I thought it would be great to have a site with information about every temple, shrine, castle, and others in Japan. That is what I will try to achieve.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I will skip the famous places, on the contrary! I want to focus on equally interesting, yet less visited places of Japan. Not only that, but also have sections of information to prepare for the trip, as well as detailed information about anything and everything in Japan. My goal is to have you come to this site, and find what ever you are searching in the first place, without having to go to forums in order to acquire the information you need.
A complete database of everything about Japan is an impossible feat to achieve, but I will do my best so this becomes the largest online database about Japan.