Tag Archives: Study Abroad

kelseydo Gion Matsuri

Last week I got a chance to visit Kyoto’s biggest and oldest festival, Gion Matsuri! It is a month long event but the most popular evenings are the nights of the 15th, 16th and the day of the 17th for the parade.

This is the only event where I felt like as a foreigner I was encouraged to wear the Yukata, the light-knit cotton/linen robe that is more casual than the Kimono. It was really fun to wear out on the town. I felt like I was wearing my bathrobe outside. My friend Chika told me that a long time ago the Yukata was only for use in the home for bathing so I was right to feel this way!

Beautiful Bow

Beautiful Bow

Getting dolled up

Getting dolled up

Yukata on!

Yukata on!

Luckily we had Yuko-san to help us get our Yukatas on properly and to tie the Obi into a perfect bow!

Alex wearing my 'drinking jacket'

Alex wearing my ‘drinking jacket’

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Daniel showing off the artwork on his Happi

Alex, Haruna & I

Alex, Haruna & I

Daniel and Haruna

Daniel and Haruna

Waiting for the Randen

Waiting for the Randen

Escalator shot

Escalator shot

Faces on the subway

Faces on the subway

It was really busy once we got downtown! There were people everywhere. Apparently tens-of-thousands of people go each night. All the main streets were closed down and there were a lot of food stalls, souvenir shops and the parade floats were all lit up with music playing.

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Megumi & I at Shijo Karasuma

Food stalls

Food stalls

Dessert!

Dessert!

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Marcus enjoying some snacks

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it's an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

Haruna digging in- not too sure what this is called but it’s an egg with sauces on a giant squid cracker

As usual, the food was one of the main events for us- we had to try everything!

Streetside bar

Streetside bar

A lot of people were enjoying their beer in the street, there were even little cocktail shops set up on the side of the street like this.

We were lucky enough to get up close and personal to a few of the parade floats.

Lanterns

Lanterns

More Lanterns

More Lanterns

Giant float including full size tree

Giant float including full size tree

photo 1

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren't allowed on this one

Marcus and Daniel enjoying the view from a float- the ladies weren’t allowed on this one

photo 4We got to take a tour of this one while they were playing drums and singing inside of it but of course- no photos!

And then more food…we were on a mission for frozen bananas! It was a very hot and humid night.

Candy apple

Candy apple

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom's favorite!)

Takoyaki- fried octopus balls (Mom’s favorite!)

Lanterns everywhere!

Lanterns everywhere!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

We found the mysterious frozen banana!

Banana Kanpai!

Banana Kanpai!

Beth loves waffles...on a stick!

Beth loves waffles…on a stick!

This guy...

This guy…

The gang!

The gang!

All in all it was an amazing night! I wish I could have gone again but unfortunately it was right in the middle of all my final exams for school.

Gion Matsuri can’t be missed!

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kelseydo Thanksgiving in Kyoto

The last piece of pie!

I have really missed my family over this last weekend, because usually it is a time that we get to spend together. This year, however, we had to do the skype thing, as I am in Kyoto!

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that everyone thinks is just an excuse to eat turkey. Don’t get me wrong, in my family we eat that turkey like it ain’t no thang. At the same time, being away around this holiday made me realize that Thanksgiving is about a lot more than just food. There are many moments that I get to share with my family during the whole process that is Thanksgiving that have little to do with food and a lot to do with communication, connection, and yeah… wine! But in all seriousness, I have cherished this Thanksgiving more than others because it really made me thankful for my family. I am so lucky to have such wonderful and amazing people in my life that love and support me, and best of all -make me laugh! Thank you!

Luckily, I have met some amazing people while on exchange in Kyoto, especially the people who live in my dorm. 3 other students in my dorm are from Canada, and were equally eager to have a Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner! (There are a few Americans in the dorm, and their Thanksgiving is late November). We were happy to have people from other countries contribute some dishes and join in on the festivities!

There are quite a few things associated with traditional Thanksgiving dinner that are a little tricky to find at our local grocery store. The major thing being turkey! But, Amanda outdid herself and made chicken breast, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with soft cheese and spinach. Better than turkey in my personal opinion! Sherry made some delicious spiced carrots and Vivien made some really incredible potatoes with onions and some other mystery ingredients that took me to mash potato heaven! We also had basil pasta and kimchi rice- yum!

I took on a special task for our dinner- pumpkin pie. I have never made a pumpkin pie before in my life. I never really even liked pumpkin pie. Don’t be mad.

First of all I’m just going to come out and say it- I ACED it! That pumpkin pie was delicious, even for a non-pumpkin pie liker like me.

There were a few hurdles, like making my own pastry shell from scratch and the fact that pumpkins here are a little different from pumpkins at home. Oh yeah, no Tenderflake or pumpkin puree either. Eat your heart out Martha.

Overall, Thanksgiving was a great success. There is still a large hole in my heart, but there are certain special moments like this one where that hole is less noticeable. We were all thankful for our new friends, and for their effort to make our dorm a new home.

Shoddy Baking Equipment…First World Problems

My buddies: Jack-o-Lantern + Wine

Amanda on the grill

Vivien handling the knife

Happy Thanksgiving! My “hand-made” turkey bird napkins.

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kelseydo Kinkaku-Ji Temple

Yesterday I visited the glorious Kinkaku-Ji temple in Kyoto. It was very busy with lots of school field trips and other tourists but it was still epic-ly gorgeous and a must-see!

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Kinkaku-ji

I bought a couple charms (I’m really not sure what they’re called) from the temple. One is for Longevity and Good Health for Nick and I and the other is to protect and provide good fortune for my family! Miss you!

xoxo Kelsey

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