At the Takoyaki party on Saturday I found out there was a trip organised by one of the teachers to take some students to a monthly market held at Toji temple, I ended up with and invite and was really looking forward to going! And today was that day!
I met everyone at Kyoto tower just before 10am, as soon as I got near the tower I could see most of the really awesome people from the takoyaki party were there and as soon as they saw me were happily smiling and waving at me from across the street.
After a bit of chatting and joking around we headed off to Toji, which as I’d been there before I knew to be near by. When I had walked there it took me around 5-10 minutes, it probably took us around 15-20minutes due to walking a slower pace, but to be honest I enjoyed every second of it and would have been happy to walk for hours, as I was just happily talking and joking with the students.
Eventually we arrived at the market, which was insanely busy and packed with more people than I’d even seen in Kyoto in one place! (I found out from the students later it was a public holiday). There were loads of stalls with foods, snacks, fruit and various hand crafted items as well, one student brought us a few things to try, and one of the teachers seemed a master of acquiring free samples for us to try.
We went around in a large group but spread out a bit, I spent a lot of time talking to a really fun person who I’d met at the takoyaki party, she was pointing out various things to me explaining what they were, and also teaching me some Japanese at the same time to. I had only had one cup of coffee at around 7am, but the bright sun and being around such a cheerful and fun person seemed to give me massive amounts of energy. Japan just seems to bring out the best in me!
Half way around the market we passed a small temple building which had a pit of incense, the other teacher told me that I should stand over the pit and use my hand to brush the incense over my head which would help with any aches or pains as it was to provide healing, I did so and have to admit the smell and aroma of the incense did feel good.
Moving on we kept drifting around the market, looking at various goods and trying plenty of food samples, the student I’d been mostly talking to pointed out a few more things like some cute neko (cat’s) that were designed to welcome customers in due to the pawing action / gesture. She also taught me more about some inari and why shrine and temple statues often had pairs with one mouth open and one closed. I also learnt more Japanese words and more everyday Japanese, rather than tourist sayings.
Once we had done a full lap of the market the teacher who had organised it thanked us for coming and said we were free to enjoy the day. She then headed back into the market with a few others, some others headed off home, but a small group of us decided to stay out and head off for some lunch.
We ended up walking around more and ended up in a really cool traditional Japanese udon place, it was shoes off and sitting on cushions at the low table, as this is what we have in the house I was used to it. We all ended up ordering exactly the same thing, a tempura udon with a few other things in it, it was delicious. I learnt a few more Japanese words and more about numbers and counting as well. It was a great meal made even better by the fun company I had with me.
After lunch we decided to head to a couple of temples near the station, again I had been to them but was happy to go again as I was just enjoying the walk in the sun with great company having a good laugh.
At one temple we sat in the main hall as a ceremony was about to start, for as we could make out it was a celebration for the dead, we knelt down to watch for a bit, it was mostly monks chanting songs. We left shorlty after as we preferred to go somewhere we could talk, and they wanted to tease me more about the fact I couldn’t kneel as long!
Eventually we ended up in a coffee shop near the main station, it was a great place which served good coffee, we all had some form of cake or pancakes to go with it. The pancakes I had were massive, and of course drizzled in syrup. We spent more time talking and teasing each other before all heading to the station for our homes. I was sad to see the day end as it had been one of my most fun days in Japan!