Created 14-Dec-12
17 photos

Last night we visited Arashiyama for a spectacular show of lights in the night combined with old Japanese sceneries, held from the ninth of December to the eighteenth of the same month, from 17:00 to 20:30. During this ten day period, various events and exhibitions are held, reviving up the festive atmosphere of the night. Students performers from universities around Kyoto will be dancing and performing on the streets at Nakanoshima Park. The amazing view of dozens of lights in the pitch black night was visible from a distance, and floodlights on either side of the river lit up the Togetsukyo bridge which was teeming with people. The most amazing spectacle, no doubt, was Arashiyama which was quite literally glowing in a blue halo, bamboo shrubs lit up luminously, like a small galaxy. Our anticipation was already building. The name ‘Hana-touro’ means literally, ‘flower and light road’, a romantic concept for a romantic town. Thousands of lights illuminate the Arashiyama area, including some temples and shrines which have extended visiting hours just for this occasion. Next year in March, a similar event will be held from March 10th for ten days, and then Higashiyama will take its turn in being lit up from 18:00 to 21:30. You can be sure to see me posed with my camera there next year, undaunted by the cold and crowds. We first walked along the Oi River, enjoying the mirror-like quality of the water, and then crossed the Togetsukyo bridge where, in Naka no Shima Park, we got a lovely view of the river, the glowing bridge, and other paper lanterns and flower arrangements, also dropping by to eat a delicious Mitarashi dango, which is a snack which many agree is the representative tidbit of Kyoto. The flower arrangements were scattered around different locations of Arashiyama with cooperation from Kyoto Ikebana Association, eight in all, and all imaginative and beautiful in their individual ways. Crossing back over to the opposite side, we forged our ways through the aesthetic streets of Arashiyama, lit up with lanterns all the way; we can truly say that Arashiyama is a city frozen in time. Though we were tempted by the many snacks and sweets beckoning us at every corner, we forged on bravely, determined to climb that blue mountain we had seen from afar. Before starting up the path, we visited Nonomiya-jinja, a small shrine where one can buy charms for all sorts of things and write their wishes on ema, or thin slats of wood. Having our blessing, we started our climb. The mountain was a true bamboo forest, and the view was absolutely spectacular – it was similar to walking among ghosts, or something supernatural, but still very beautiful. The bamboos were lit up with blue or white lights, and the roads were crowded with eager people, walking approximately 5.2 km. Both sides were lit up from the Nonomiiya Shrine to Okouchi Sanso Villa, which is a paid area. Walking back down into town, we treated ourselves to the perfect ending of an evening with bowls of steaming ramen, a meal which one just cannot pass up while staying in any part of Japan. With this, we concluded our night and called it a day, cameras full of ethereal pictures of blue light and burning lanterns floating in the night.
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