I spent my morning at the Naritasan Shinsho-Ji Temple for the Ume Blossom festival (plum blossoms). Although the weather was a little miserable, a fair amount of people attended, walking around the gardens in the temple grounds.
All the way down the main street toward the temple, the weekend market was running so the road was closed off to traffic and plenty visitors, local and foreign walked up and down the street browsing and trying out the market goods.
Entering the temple grounds, an ice-sculpting contest was demonstrated along the pathways with some incredible pieces from local sculptors.
Walking up the pathways to the main stage, Ume Blossoms surrounded us – really picturesque of what anyone imagines when thinking of Spring!
The main stage was situated right below the main temple at the highest point in these gardens. I was offered a traditional Japanese drink called, Amazake which is a sweet drink made from fermented rice. I was hesitant to try it as I really didn’t think I’d enjoy the texture – it was a hot drink but I could see that it was quite a dense liquid with floating fermented rice (eeek!). To my surprise, it was rather lovely. Very sweet indeed! I’m still not sure whether it was the fact that I was the only Westerner surrounded by Japanese enjoying their Amazake that made me enjoy it that much more, or that it was a cold morning and the warmth of this sweet drink was just so welcoming in thawing the frozen fingers.
Sitting down among the locals, there was such peaceful music playing in the background. This was playing over the speakers by the musician that was going to perform on stage for us all. When he came out on stage, it seemed he was rather well known as everyone gave him a grand round of applause. The instrument…a Japanese violin. I believe this originates in China and is called the “Erhu”. The music pieces that were played this morning were very special. It made the serenity of the temple gardens seem even more serene – if that is even possible! Sitting there in awe of this musician playing an instrument with only 2 strings making the majestic sounds of what I thought resembled spirits that surrounded us, was such a delight. Eventually closing my eyes and soaking it all up was quite a special way to spend a Sunday.