Archive for February, 2013


Fire Festival

As it is the first full moon after lunar new year (Chinese new year to most Westerners), there was a fire festival today. All over the beaches of Busan there were fires set where people threw all sorts of stuff from paper planes to plastic bags so heavy it seemed like people were struggling to throw them in. The fire started at 4:50 (sun was still up which my friends and I thought was odd) but went well into the night.

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There was also lots of holes with candles in them and a set up for candles where you paid for one and they put it out to spell…something. We didn’t get to see all of it.

Fire Festival 016 Fire Festival 022There was also a dance going on where the music made my brain bleed after 1 minute because it was the same thing over and over again, and the lyrics only took up 10 seconds or less. This lasted for about half-an-hour…the dance was interesting to watch (I say interesting because we couldn’t figure out what it really symbolized) and kept changing up what they were doing. There was the red side and the blue side and sometimes they were apart and sometimes together–there were even kids who came from each side and seemingly got married after walking on the backs of their sides. Then there was a girl in white who danced in the middle and brought them together one last time.

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Above is where the kids walked, below is where they stood after. I took a video of them doing it, but some of the other dancers did it again after so I took photos then (thinking the walking on backs part was over)Fire Festival 119 Fire Festival 142

Of course, at the end, Gangnam Style was played on repeat. And everyone went crazy.

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Kite Making

There is a Temple in the northern part of Busan called Hongbeopsa Temple and they have events on 1 Sunday every month for foreigners to do something traditionally Korean. This was the first I had heard of it, and even though I had mixed experiences, I will go back again because next month is about percussion.

Once you go to Nopo you go out the exit between the subway and the bus and walk to the right (its quite a walk, but you could see other foreigners–or I’m told that that there are also little kids dressed in the Buddhism clothing looking for us). After that a bus takes you for about 10 minutes to the Temple.

As for making kites, they gave you everything you need–paper, markers, glue, tape, wood, and the spool with string. But the directions were a bit confusing as one person would give them and then others would come over to ‘help’ but they would say something different. It seemed like the people in charge needed to do their own lessons first and then give them. Anyway, I put help in quotes because if someone came to you they would just take your kite from you and do whatever had to be done. Honestly, this made me sad because I wanted to make a kite.

Another person working there also criticized my kite design because I didn’t have much on it to start, which I was fine with. She told me I had to put more. Hell with that, it’s MY kite. Then I thought of a Community quote to put on it, wrote it, and didn’t hear more from here. She also asked me about 3 times if Sweden was the city I was from.

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After we were done, we got to try flying them, which was a lot of effort because there was no wind–so we ran a lot.

The temple is pretty nice. My friend and I explored it but didn’t go up into the Buddhas belly at the top because then we would have missed out on the free fruit and rice cakes that they were giving out below!

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Tokyo Overview

Nippori

Ueno Zoo

Sensoji Temple

Edo-Tokyo Museum

Ueno Park

Imperial Palace Garden

Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower

Shibuya

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Meiji Shrine (Foundation Day Parade)

Tokyo National Museum

The Tokyo National Museum is in Ueno Park near a fountain.

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There are many buildings but some are closed and some are just for special exhibits (I think, the signs were unclear). I went to the Asia part which had China (lots of it), India, Korea (medium amounts) and ‘other’ Including some Egyptian stuff like a Mummy! In this building they also have things you can play with that try to tell your luck and future. This building also has a terrace which is nice.

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The second building I went to (the main one) was Japanese art and was not overcrowded because they are only had ‘highlights’ out. nothing here really struck me here other than the warrior costumes and some intricate statues made of gold which I could not take photos, of course.

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This was probably the worst day to go see the shrine, as there was so many people it was hard to see the buildings. However, the parade was amazing, making it the best day to go to the shrine.

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Foundation Day is the day that Japan was unified under one Emperor. The Americans I found thought that there was 23 floats to represent the 23 different groups that became unified at that time (I did not see the whole thing so I’m not sure how many floats there were.

People cared them for about 2 miles! There probably 60 people holding each one up and they looked like they were struggling.

Many people hardly had any clothes on at all! It was pretty cold too. Some just wore socks.

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Once inside the shrine itself they carried the floats to a man standing higher than everyone else, cheered, and walked backwards away.

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There were also some amazing drummers.

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is in Shinjuku and is a free way to see the Tokyo skyline. They also have maps of every neighborhood on the bottom floor, which is great to have. This would be a great first stop, but I didn’t know that at the time. It opens at 9:30.

Tokyo 1 708 Tokyo 1 712 Tokyo 1 717 Tokyo 1 718 Tokyo 1 722 Tokyo 1 732The view of the South is way better–maybe because I went there first but there is also a lot more room to sit and at the North side 1/4 of the view is reserved for people going to the Italian restaurant.

Shibuya

I walked from Omote-sando to Shibuya was pretty quick and had a lot of fashionable shops. Shibuya is one of the busiest intersections in the world. The walk toward Meiji Shrine is also filled with fashionable shops and people.

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At Shibuya station there is a statue of a dog which, when his owner died at work, he returned to the subway everyday, waiting for his master to come back. It was super busy around the statue, with tons of people just standing there–I guess it is a big meeting point.

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Zojoji Temple was packed! There were tons of people everywhere and some people doing a singing show. It’s also difficult to get a photo of any part of the temple without Tokyo Tower in the background.

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It was decked out with statues of kids with hats, capes, flowers and pinwheels.

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They were selling stuff for Year of the Snake too.

I walked over to Tokyo Tower and the line was massive!

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In the center of Tokyo is the Imperial Palace and the Gardens which is nice even in winter. Wish I could go back in summer to see all the flowers but I don’t think that will happen because of the cost of flights (usually). There were some swans in the pond outside the garden itself.

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There were some interesting plants there, including some things that I did not think could survive in the cold weather that is Japan in winter, like palm trees.

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Some plants were in bloom and were beautiful up close.

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There were also some trees growing from the tops of rocks, which confused me as there was no way to go up and see if the rock was hallow and had dirt inside.

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There is a look out to Mt Fuji but you can’t go and look from it as the building is very old.

Ueno Park

I went into the zoo without going though the park, but left though the main entrance which goes though the park.

When I walked out I went though Toshogu Shine but I was unimpressed. There was a huge expensive restaurant inside, unless I walked out and didn’t know it.

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I then saw the Statue of Prince Komatsunomiya Akihto, who started the Japanese Red Cross Society, which I think is pretty great.

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I went back a few days later and went in the South entrance, going by a temple, Buddha and pagoda.

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There was also a farmers market going on at the time (on a Monday) that was wrapping up. Before the National Museum there is a pond with a fountain.