Stumbling Into the Past in Kyoto

IMHO, the entire country of Japan should go ahead and be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kyoto is my third stop in Japan and although Tokyo and Hiroshima blows the doors off anything I’ve seen in the world, Kyoto shot itself into the stratosphere last night.

Japan is experiencing a deadly heatwave, so we’ve had to lay low during the day. Therefore, as soon as the sun began to go down last night, my daughter and I jumped outside. We were raring at the bit to wander the Arashiyama area of Kyoto. Our ryokan, the Arashiyama Ranzan Hotel, is located beside the Katsura River.

I chose this ryokan for two reasons, one; it has an onsen and two; it’s close to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the Tenryu-ji Temple.

Here is a cute video of a lotus field at Tenryu-ji Temple.


Next is the stumble upon part. We were walking beside the river and had stopped at a vending machine for refreshments with the intention of hiking to the Bamboo Forest. We noticed a lot of people in traditional kimono boarding the cutest boats. I admired the swinging lanterns on the boats. Romance defined right there. Fascinated, we snapped pictures and continued walking the river’s path. (I later discovered we had taken the wrong-ish path to the forest and good thing we did!)

The boats began to form a chain. Things were getting super interesting at this point. I mumbled, “What do you think is happening here? Is it a nightly event?” This is like a dream and we’ve entered.

We kept walking along the path and saw little gondola like boats and became even more intrigued. Why is there fire on the bow of the boat? Why are there ducks on prow lines? Are they powering the boats with the ducks? Are the ducks trying to swim because they are avoiding the fire or is the fire for lighting purposes. It is getting dark. We were excited and clueless too. So many unanswered questions that begged later googling.

Video of my total ignorance. I later found out what we had witnessed, but first we continued to the Bamboo Forest. Since the mysterious fire/duck event pushed up back time-wise a little while, we got to the forest too late and there was no more light. The Bamboo Forest was awfully spooky at night and it’s not lit up at all. Nope.

Discovering What We Saw

Back at the hotel, I discovered we had witnessed Cormorant Fishing or Ukai. The universe lined it up for us like this. Heatwave ➜ Sunset Touring ➜ Wrong Path ➜ Ukai!! Heck, yeah.

Cormorant Fishing is an ancient art dating back to the 9th Century. The performances happen in Kyoto from July to September. It was amazing.

Serendipity! Cant see what we stumble upon next on our travels.

So ❤️ Japan!!

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