Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – 平野神社 北野天满宫
A long break since the last post from our Japan trip and I can’t believe that I’m still not done with it! I’d better get things going before my memory starts to fade. And what’s more ironic is, blogging is suppose to preserve part of that memory!
After leaving Kinkakuji 金閣寺, we slowly strolled down the path which led us to our next destination. And boy were we glad that Kinkakuji was the first pit-stop of the day as we’d soon realised that the subsequent places we visited in the vicinity is a gentle downhill walk from Kinkakuji. If we had turned the itinerary the other way round, it would have been a more laborious uphill climb. *phew*
Baikal Patisserie, a pastry chain in the Kansai area which we’d read about but didn’t have the intentions of visiting. But since we chanced upon one on the way to our next attraction, we figured why not!
As it was still rather early in the day, most of the cakes are still in the process of getting “assembled”, so we settled for bread instead, feeling a little hungry from the walk around Kinkakuji. The an-pan was generous in its koshi’an red bean filling 漉し餡 but otherwise not very impressionable. Perhaps because the topping was not the kurogoma black sesame seeds which we’d accustomed to see on an-pans, whose wonderful aroma released from the little ebony morsels as they yield under tongue and teeth. The bun was so beautifully “maillarded” otherwise, which most certainly whet our appetites and making us pick it from the rack without hesitation. It was rather disappointing that the taste didn’t match its looks.
Sakura melon pan, a seasonal item to usher in Spring. Well, truth be told, there’s isn’t much “sakura-ness” in it let alone the feeling of spring. I’d very much prefer the melon pan we had just outside Asakusa Kannon Temple in Tokyo, back in 2009. Now that was one helluva melon pan, becoming our yardstick of what a truly awesome melon pan should be like.
In retrospect, we are glad we didn’t get the cakes. :/
平野神社, a Shinto shrine renowned as a sakura viewing attraction in Kyoto. Behind the large vermillon torii lies some 500 cherry blossom trees from 45 varieties! Alas all looked so bare and bald now as the sakura season was still a month away when we visited.
A gigantic tree within the compounds, becoming “sacred” having lived for so long. Shinto practices worship natural elements and believe that old trees house and bind spirits of the past, becoming guardians of the land they grow in and thus deserve to be revered and respected. It is said that when one places one’s palm against the trunk, close the eyes and makes a wish or prayer, the tree’s response lies in the rustling of the leaves which only the devotee understands. Mystical isn’t it?
A shinto priest carry an onusa 大幣 on his way to a ritual. There was a family who brought their latest member, a newly born baby to inform the gods and receive blessings from them.
Wooden prayer plaques 绘马 ema from this shrine, one with a sakura motif denoting this site as a famous sakura viewing spot.
Even the fortune telling slips omikuji come in sakura motifs! Cute eh?
Around the compound lies quite a number of smaller shrines which worship numerous Japanese shinto gods “kami-sama”, one of which is most intriguing. It enshrines, 猿田彦大神 Sarutahiko Okami which is basically a monkey god!
Various ape and monkey plush toys as worship items.
Then we walked past a primary school with children playing baseball during physical education class. Mind you the weather was single digit! A little girl taking a shot!
Out the ball goes!
Kitano Tenmangu shrine, like the one in Nishiki Market we’d visited the day before, worships the cow!
Gigantic stone torii
Yellow ume blossoms at the temple entrance. Mirroring 平野神社, Ktano Tenmangu is a famous site for viewing plum blossoms and they were in full bloom during our visit. Lucky!
One of the very many cow statues within the temple grounds
There is a plum garden within the temple which requires an entrance fee. The temple is otherwise free. But there were tonnes of visitors both foreign and local inside the garden when we visited, so definitely not a good idea to join the crowd for sure Thus, we opted out of the garden and saved ourselves the entrance fees since very many plum trees were also planted within the temple itself!
Elegance in white…
Pretty in pink!
An obasan in velvety cloak dressed in style for the occasion!
Some kodomo using their Nintendo DS as a makeshift camera!
Brilliant weather that morning catching a bit of sun, unlike the previous few days which rained and snowed in the uttermost unpredictable manner.
A loooooooong queue of devotees waiting to say their prayers and make wishes in front of the deities.
One has to tug a thick rope to rattle a large bell to awaken the gods…
And clap the palms loudly twice before saying one’s prayer… and everyone repeats this… tough job as a shinto god if you ask me…
A wooden sake barrel with a rolly polly drawing of 大黑天Daikokuten, the guardian diety for wealth, commerce and trade.
Intricate wooden carvings on a wooden beam on the ceiling of the main shrine
Mythological beasts and creatures, likening those at Toshogu, the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Nikko.
A last shot of a white plum blossom.
Settling down at one of the pavilions in the compound for lunch, a sushi-to-go we got from a local supermarket along the way. It is markedly cheaper than those at the depachikas of departmental stores in the downtown areas.
An assortment of delectable seafood! My first go at fresh white bait!
We also packed two palm-length ebi tempura to go! Cold but still so crispy!
J isn’t a big fan of ikura and uni, so that’s more of the yummy stuff for me!
Japan Mar 2011 Day 5 – 金閣寺 の 日栄軒和菓子
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Cannelé and Macarons from Pâtisserie Kanae
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Pâtisserie Kanae Kyoto
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – Macarons @ Jean-Philippe Darcis Kyoto & Unagi don dinner
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 知恩院 錦市場
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 清水寺 二年坂
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 洛東 清水寺
Japan Mar 2011 Day 4 – 京都 晨の雪
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – A Taste of Spring 岚山 竹路庵 和菓子
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Pâtisserie Henri Charpentier
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Pâtisserie Gion Sakai
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Gion and Depachika Dinner
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Arashiyama Lunch @ 平の家
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – Tenryuji and Sagano
Japan Mar 2011 Day 3 – 嵐山 愛宕念仏寺 Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Macarons from Patisserie Alcyon
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Mont Blancs from Pâtisserie Factory Shin
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Dinner @ 鹤桥风月大阪焼 Fugetsu Okonomiyaki
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Pâtisserie Mont Plus @ Daimaru Umeda
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Umeda & Lunch @ Daimaru
Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Osaka Castle
Japan Mar 2011 Day 1 – Dinner @ Shi Ten Noh Ramen, Dotonbori
Japan Mar 2011 Day 1 – Sights and Sounds of Shinsaibashi