Sunday, August 16, 2015

Uji, floating lanterns, and fishing by firelight

I headed south of Kyoto today to the small city of Uji.  Uji seems to be all about matcha (green tea).  There were cafes, restaurants, and stores with green tea sweets, green tea noodles, green tea drinks and green tea ice cream.  While there I visited the Byodoin Temple, a Buddhist temple with distinctly Chinese influences.

Green tea ice cream with matcha powder sprinkled on top.

I saw this old gentleman fishing in the river.  I'm not sure if he caught anything though.

In the evening, after having returned to Kyoto, I headed to the Arashiyama area for the Paper Lantern Festival.  People float paper lanterns down the river as part of Obon.  Obon is the Japanese Buddhist custom of honouring their ancestors spirits.  The lanterns in the river are guiding the spirits back to their own world.

Looking over from the other bank.

After walking away from the crowds I found that there was a demonstration of cormorant fishing (Ukai) going on just a little ways up river.  The fisherman use trained cormorants to catch the fish underwater and bring them back to the boat.  A snare around the bird's neck prevents it from swallowing its catch.  This method of fishing dates back 1300 years in some parts of Japan.

Video of the lantern festival and the cormorant fishing.