Japan · Life in Japan

September Highlights: Fude Matsuri, Miyajima, and Cat Cafe

September has really gone by in a flash, and I must say it has been a fun and fulfilling month to boot. Not only did I properly start teaching English classes, which so far have been going pretty well – and I only seem to be remembering the names of the rowdy students ๐Ÿ˜‰ –ย  I also got to explore a bit more of Hiroshima:

Fude Matsuri:

September 23rd was the Japanese national holiday that celebrates the autumn equinox. It is also the day that the annual Fude Matsuri (brush festival) is held in the quiet town of Kumano, which is about an hour’s bus ride east from Hiroshima City. The festival celebrates everything to do with calligraphy brushes and it is held in Kumano because the town produces up to 80% of Japan’s brushes.

I was fortunate enough to go to the festival with my fellow Saffer ALT, Kelly, and we spent the day among thousands of calligraphy brushes, festival food and performances by the local school and calligraphy masters. It was my first real festival in Japan and it was amazing!

The entrance to the festival
Massive calligraphy brushes hanging from the torii.
Brushes for sale
These fish-shaped cakes were absolutely delicious! They came with a variety of fillings, but we opted for the chocolate ones.
The bonfire where you throw in your old calligraphy brushes that you have used the past year.

 

The table of old and used calligraphy brushes waiting to be thrown in the bonfire. Both Kelly and I were given the chance to throw some brushes in ourselves. Hopefully next year I will come with my own brushes ๐Ÿ™‚
Massive Rhino beetles for sale.

The flowers of the autumn equinox: the Higanbana, or red spider lily. These flowers only appear around the autumn equinox. According to the National Geographic website: “The equinox is a Buddhist holiday in Japan, and the flowers are commonly seen in cemeteries to honour ancestors who have made the transition from this Earthly world. Rice farmers employ the plants for a more practical useโ€”their poisonous bulbs are meant to keep mice and other pests out of crops.”

 

Miyajima Island:

My second visit to the island of deer and temples was just as exciting and amazing as the first time I went there back in November 2013. This time it was incredibly busy and hot, but it was great to experience the island in late summer and try some of the local food:

Lunch: ‘Hamburg set’ – it was delicious!
The fake/plastic version of lunch
More fake/plastic lunch options
This was just plain epic!
Unimpressed deer is unimpressed
We tried hot melon pan (cookie dough wrapped in bread dough and baked) filled with ice-cream. Ohm-nom-nom-nom!!
A brilliant shot taken by Kelly
It may look like a mess, but it was a delicious mess: shaved ice with strawberries in it, along with strawberry syrup and covered with condensed milk. I still dream about it at night…
And of course one cannot go to Miyajima without taking a picture of the famous torii gate

Cat Cafe:

Ever since arriving in Japan, I have gone without touching, holding, stroking, or playing with a cat or dog. Even though Onomichi is full of cats, they are feral, and run away at the sight of you. So the other day I realised that I needed to take some action before I start going stir-crazy from lack of animal contact – and it doesn’t help that I am desperately missing my cats and dogs who are at home in South Africa.

I did some research and found a cat cafe in Hiroshima City, and it turned out to be a really great place (I will definitely return again soon). It was very clean, no smell, the cats were in excellent condition, and there were so many places for them to go – including a section where they could escape from crazy cat people and sleep at leisure without being disturbed.

Even though we arrived at the cafe just as it had opened for the day, it was already quite busy with at least 8 other people there. Fortunately we were seated right next to one very old-looking cat (though he is only 5 years old), called Musashi-kun, who was more than happy to have me stroke him. Obviously we were allowed to walk around the cafe, but our ‘designated seats’ where we were served our free drink, was were Musashi-kun was, so I was perfectly content to just sit there with him ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually I did get up and try to ‘meet’ some of the other cats, but as typical cats are, most of them were more interested in watching birds, sleeping, eating, or playing with the other cats. But moving on: I will now inundate you with cat pictures!

The Persian: Musashi-kun
The Norwegian Forest cat: Mash-kun
These two had spotted a bird outside.
The ginger cat, Tora-kun, joined in the bird watching for about a minute, then got bored and went to sleep
The large Norwegian Forest cat, Mocha-kun, looks just like one of my cats back home – though Mocha-kun is much larger… and teasing poor Chocolat-chan, a Munchkin.
This area was inaccessible to humans because there was a pane of glass separating us to the cats – which was annoying because I so wanted to jump in there and cuddle all those cute sleeping cats ๐Ÿ™‚
The reference guide for all the cats

I hope you enjoyed my picturesque highlights of September ๐Ÿ™‚

And on that final furry note:

Official Onomichi Cat Count: 16

P.S. As much as I wanted to, I didn’t add the cats in the cat cafe to my ‘official cat count’, in case you were wondering ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sweet dreams!

 

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6 thoughts on “September Highlights: Fude Matsuri, Miyajima, and Cat Cafe

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