Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Heian-raku-ichi - Handmade Flea Market in Kyoto

Hello Lovelies! I'm so excited to tell you about the Heian-raku-ichi, a flea market of handmade goods at the Heian-jingu shrine at Kyoto. This is held every second Saturday of the month and I was so so lucky to be close by to get to go for it. We took a train the usual train to Tennoji and then a Haruki (Express train) to Kyoto. Got off at the Kyoto station and took a Kyoto city bus to the Heian-jingu shrine. There's a huge Torii gate across the road that stands tall to greet you. Thank God for the pleasant and sunny day. The cloudy and rainy weather the day before was terrible and glum. The moment you cross the street to the market, the garden is sprinkled with Sakura and bright tents with smiley faces waiting to welcome you. 
The stalls are put up by mostly women - middle aged and women in their 30s. You don't find too many young girls and teenagers except for those helping their Mums. The men put up food, coffee stalls and a few ceramic and carpentry good stalls. I was particularly overwhelmed with the quality of fabric and the technique and finesse of the handstitched goodies. I wouldn't know how to express this but, walking across the stalls and looking at all the wonderful stuff, I couldn't help feeling chuffed about meself since everything looked a lot like what I've been making all this while :) No fancy hardware, no heavy metal buckles and closures, just pure simple design. The gorgeous fabric prints were the only thing that make me envious like hell :(( The beautiful linen with floral, dogs, cats, leaves, dolls ooh..It just went on and on. The Japanese crafters excel in hand sewing and they can sew the tiniest of things. I almost went berserk from the first stall itself. The women are so kind, always smiling and happy to tell you about their craft. I got to show off some of my handmade stuff too. They speak only Japanese, but with a few english words and hand signs we were able to get across to each other :) I won't make this post too long and let you ogle at some of the pictures I was able to take. I forgot to take pictures at many stalls, cause I was so giddy with excitement :) We were fortunate to be able to get some nice sun, considering its pretty cold and rainy here. If it had rained this day, the market would've been cancelled, so the weather Gods were really kind to me hahahaha

                                   The first stall at the entrance that I fell in love with
                             I got the turquoise dog print tote for the dog loving sista :)

                                                       Tiny bead jewellery

                                        Such well tailored handstitched linen clothes
 This happy old lady couldn't afford a tent of her own and so she sat happily on the pavement with her handmade stuff. It's a shame I got busy with the food stall nearby and forgot to take a look at her gorgeous patchwork bags :((

                           Yummy sweet and savoury breads for breaka
          I noticed a family sitting out in the sun together on the table doing paper craft :) 
              Me enoying the fluffy pastry bread with freshly brewed coffee. The only day I                                          got to wear my sunhat and enjoi the sunshine.
                       Bread with spicy, crunchy lotus stem, topped with cheese
 Ooooh...this shiny golden oranges on a fluffy pastry was divine, I've never eaten something this refreshing and delicious at the same time. It wasn't too sweet, great tang and layers of fluff...mmmmm...haven't been able to find this again!

                                                           Hand sewn sanitary napkins 
                               Clocks made from old Japanese ceramics and tinware

 Cutest couple at the fair. I picked up a cute accessory pouch from here. You can follow her at on instagram.

 Book Covers for Manga comics

This was something I'd never seen nor heard of before. Someki - the trees are dyed while alive and when cut you can see all the different colours in the wood. I picked up some beautiful earrings from here. The young gurl was so helpful and had brought along a picture with text in English for tourists to understand. 

                                                         Hanami, at the Okazaki Koen

        Otogawa river lined with Sakura 
I had one of the most enjoyable days in Japan! Fabric, food, crafters and Sakura all the way. I hope you too feel the joy in these pictures :)) See you all soon!

Much Luv,


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day Two - Kyoto and the Blooming Sakura

Hiyaaaa! Continuing with my Japan travelogue, we first set out to see the Cherry blossom trees or the Sakura, which was is in full bloom at the moment. You cannot escape the Sakura in its full glory if you're here in the season! The Sakura trees line many streets and gardens across the country.  We travelled to Kyoto to see them since that's the best place right now to enjoy them. But, the moment you step out of a train station anywhere, you'll start spotting them. 
To get to Kyoto, if you have a JR pass you need to get to the closest JR station (JR Namba for us), take a train to a station on the Loop line (Shin-Imamiya for us) and get to Osaka. From Osaka, take a JR train straight to Kyoto station. ( will help you plan your route. An android app is also available but an ios app isn't available for us in India :( ) Once you get to Kyoto there are buses that will ferry you to what ever place you'd like for a minimum fare of 230 Yen each. We chose to get to the Kiyomizu - Dera first. The most famous and strikingly colourful Kiyomizu - dera is one of the most popular Buddhist temples in Kyoto and a landmark of sorts. The steep climb to the temple is called the Chawan - zaka or the teapot lane and is lined with beautiful porcelain, souvenir and tea centers and cafes. You'll find lots of people dressed in traditional wear making their way upto the temple, but these aren't the locals, but enthusiastic tourists that rent these kimonos and wear them for the time they're visiting Kyoto. 

The temple can be quite crowded at this time, but coming from Bombay, we didn't find it unusual. People don't push and shove and everyone's just having a good time. The temple is a bright orange structure and is scattered with Sakura trees. It doesn't have the serenity of a Buddhist temple since people flock it in large numbers, but the temple structure is what's most eye catching. We reached there mid afternoon and were lucky to catch the Blue Dragon procession or the Seiryu - e.  The Blue Dragon which is actually green comes out to drink water at the Otowa waterfall just below the temple. It was fascinating to watch the traditional routine with the bearers of the dragon all dressed in traditional warrior finery and drum beats and a peculiar song that they sung. We missed walking through the actual temple that is said to signify entering a female bodhisattva. 

Making our way out of the temple we walked down to Kasagiya, a very old tea shop that serves Japanese style sweets and tea. The sweets were kind of a soyabean jelly coated in peanut powder and served with both green and black tea.

Walking through  Ishibel - koji which is a beautiful street, we reached the Mayurama-Koen, a large park which is home to the giant Gion Shidare-Zakura.This magnificent tree is called the Shidare literally translates to The Weeping Sakura because of its drooping branches, This tree in the center of the Maruyama Park in Kyoto is a second generation tree that came from its parent tree that lived for 200 years. The huge park is filled with Sakura and cafes that serve the local cuisine. You can even eat under the trees on bamboo mats which is also called Hanami in Japanese meaning picnicing under the blooming Sakura. The paths around the park have tons of temporary stalls of food too where we found right from roasted fish to candied fruits to our very own tandoori chicken :) Walking around the park is lovely. By evening the paper lanterns go on and the park looks even more gorgeous.

After a hearty meal, we walked back to the bus stop making our way through the Yasaka -jinja. 

This shrine is considered the guardian of the Gion entertainment district. The Gion district was actually built to house the travellers that visited the shrine but now it is most famous in the whole of Japan for the Geisha. We reached there by late evening and decided that the Geisha tour would have to be done another day. 
The day was like living in a dream. Nothing familiar, nothing ever seen before! That's most amazing about Japan.
Tomorrow we go see the Todai-ji temple, which is the oldest wooden structure in the world. Tell you all that soon :) 
Later lovely people!
Much Luv,