Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kyoto - Picture Oktoberfest In A Hurricane

The first part of the day was devoted to the almighty shrines and temples. To be honest, I don't remember anything we saw, and neither does Pearl. But I bet they were old and expensive.

That night marked the beginning of the Gion Matsuri, Japan's largest festival. Which means it was the perfect time for a typhoon!

That's right, a typhoon was quickly headed our way with increasing intensity. But no one seemed worried, and I was actually a little excited to see one, so we went out to the festival.

It's practically impossible to describe that night. Basically, for three nights proceeding the big parade on the seventeenth, they close off literally the entire downtown of Kyoto - roughly one square mile - and pack it with stalls. Every street down to the one-lane-wide winding back streets are filled with stalls offering crazy amounts of various things - all sorts of strange-looking foods, tons of games for kids, souvenirs, clothes, candy - everything! It's absolute madness. And once you throw in the hurricane-like rain and wind (I ruined two umbrellas and the next day we saw entire bamboo forests that had been leveled), it was utter chaos. And yet the streets were still packed.

We took in the sights for a while, tried some delicious (albeit soggy) food, and called it a night when we became so soaked our clothes were dragging us down.

Here are the only pictures I could manage during the typhoon:

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