The Kids Are Gone! Or, Two Days in Kyoto

Last week the kids went on a school ski trip. Both kids, at the same time! All four of us have been anticipating this trip since learning of it shortly after our arrival in Yokohama over two years ago. So after Mark delivered the children and ski gear to meet the bus, we headed straight for the shinkansen station. Our destination: Kyoto.

After two hours of shinkansen magic we arrived in Kyoto and started sightseeing. And eating. And actually talking to each other without interruption. It was phenomenal.

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We visited as many shrines, temples, gardens, and palaces as we could. We also happily stumbled upon a setsubun celebration at a kindergarten taking place right next to the temple. Setsubun gives revelers the chance to dress in funny costumes (the oni devil) and throw food (roasted soybeans)–a recipe for any successful holiday, I think. Setsubun takes place the day before spring according to the lunar calendar–usually February 3 or 4–just as Groundhog Day in the U.S. marks the transition from winter to spring.

The kindergarteners threw their beans at the oni devil while he waved his club in a menacing manner. We stood to the side and watched, then saw him slowly lumber back toward the temple grounds where we stood. Mark and I gathered a few beans from the ground as ammunition, and we took our turn throwing beans at him when he approached us. The children squealed in delight.

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