Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today, I will talk about the Kamakura Festival, held in late January in Yunishigawa, in Tochigi Prefecture, near Nikko. I went there with Naoko the first weekend I was in Japan, already a few weeks ago. The festival will last until March.

The place is in the middle of the mountains, in a beautiful hot spring area. In late January, some small snow structures called "mini kamakura" are built and candles are put inside them. At night, those are lit and the effect of all of them shining is quite nice. There are also some larger snow structures similar to iglus or simple houses, which are the actual kamakura. The most typical food there is yuuba (湯葉), derived from tofu.

This is one of the biggest snow structures:

And this is what a mini kamakura looks like. Notice its size compared to a 500ml beer:

Near our ryokan, there was a river and along it, there were many mini kamakura. Quite a beautiful view at night!

Kamakura are quite easy to build and everybody is encoraged to build them. We gave it a try and this was the result:

The hotel was really nice. A great dinner and breakfast and an outside onsen (温泉), what is called a rotenburo (露天風呂).

On our way back, we stopped at Utsonomiya, in Tochigi, to enjoy the food this town is famous for: gyoza.

A nice weekend away from Tokyo!

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