I had really meant to write this by last December and it may seem weird posting about this event while the 花灯路hanatoro in 東山Higashiyama is going on but hopefully this might inspire people to look forward to going at the end of this year.☺
Starting in 2004, 嵐山花灯路Arashiyama Hanatoro is a 10-day event in December when the touristy area of 嵐山Arashiyama is lit up in all its late-fall/early-winter glory. I first heard of this event when Mr. Man took me in 2006 and after that, it’s been a yearly tradition (except when I didn’t go in 2012). Although going every year means I get used to some parts of the hanatoro, there are still some slight changes (easy to catch when you go every year) and it’s still a breathtaking event, especially for those who like light-ups like me. I’ve already written about the 東山花灯路Higashiyama Hanatoro which is similar but I believe the Arashiyama one was first.
After the first year, I discovered that the best route was from 大覚寺Daikaku-ji Temple which is some distance away from the rest of the route; there was a free shuttle bus from the JR嵯峨野線嵯峨嵐山駅Sagano Line Saga Arashiyama Station to the temple…I say “was” because Daikaku-ji Temple stopped participating in the light-up from 2010 and in 2009 although they were open for viewing, it was no longer free…I think they no longer participate in the event. I’m still a bit sad about this but at least I got some good memories in before then.
the main lanterns (at least that’s the impression that I had) near the entrance for the Daikaku-ji Temple
大沢池Osawa-no-ike Pond: in 2006 there was a statue of a 河童kappa, a Japanese mythical water-dwelling creature, at the end of a small dock into the pond (kind of spooky!); in 2007 glow-in-the-dark superballs floated in the pond; and in 2008 fluorescent butterflies hovered over the pond (I even got some in the form of stickers!), called 蝶のゆくえCho no Yukue (The Whereabouts of Butterflies).
2006: 心経宝塔Shingyohoto Tower lit up; 2007: the tower lit up red in the distance with a cluster of lanterns and up close; 2008: the tower lit up red again and reflected in 放生池Houjou-ike Pond; 2009: the view of Osawa-no-ike Pond from outside
some noteworthy aspects of the light-up…2006: lanterns shaped like o-jizos; 2007: a light that reminded me of a glow-in-the-dark disco ball; 2008: a path lined with bamboo shoot-shaped lights up to a Christmas tree made of origami-lily lights and a curtain of lit-up origami boxes and lights in the area near the bridge to 天神島Tenjin-shima Island
Until Daikaku-ji stopped participating in the event, there were free shuttle buses between the temple and 二尊院Nison-in Temple (this picture taken in 2008).
After Daikaku-ji was taken off the route, Nison-in Temple became the start of the hanatoro for Rika and me to which we walked from JR 嵯峨嵐山駅Saga Arashiyama Station.
the scene at Nison-in Temple: there’s usually an ikebana display out front and for an entrance fee, one can see the light-up of the temple grounds
2010: 長神の社Chojin no Mori lit up with the winner of the first annual 創作行灯デザインコンペPaper Lantern Design Competition, 「落花灯」”Fallen Blossom Light”
2008: a couple of the 19 小倉百人一首Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka by One Hundred Poets lit up
2008: these hand-held lanterns were provided for walking around the event near 落柿舎Rakushisha
the persimmon lanterns for Rakushisha
2014: the scene in around the field in front of Rakushisha
the 紅葉kohyoh (fall foliage) close to 常寂光寺Jojakko-ji Temple
2010: the entrance to Jojakko-ji Temple where also for an entrance fee one can see the lit-up grounds
2008: outside カフェアイトワCafe aightowa on the way to the bamboo forest (kind of spooky)
the light-up of トロッコ嵐山駅Torokko Arashiyama Station in 2006…as the years passed, the lighting became a more subdued, warm color and now I don’t think it’s lit up anymore although there are still food stalls inside the station.
2009: Starbucks Coffee giving out free coffee, a godsend when it’s cold…they were on hand in 2008 in 中之島公園Nakanoshima Park as well and I last noticed them in 2010.
the light-up of the 竹林の小径Chikurin o Komichi, or Bamboo Path
2014: inside 野宮神社Nonomiya Shrine
outside 京福嵐山駅Keifuku Arashiyama Station
One of the trains for 京福電気鉄道嵐山駅Keifuku Electric Railways (or affectionately known as 嵐電Randen in Kyoto) Arashiyama Station is usually stationed and transformed for this event: in 2008 projection mapping was used while in 2009 the inside (the train was called 花電車Hana Densha, or Flower Train) glowed in futuristic colors.
2013-2014: the キモノフォレストKimono Forest, a forest of poles of kimono fabric that lead to the 龍の愛宕池Atago Pond Dragon which grants wishes
2009: Nakanoshima Park from across the river
the light-up of the 渡月橋Togetsukyo area: the bridge itself
and the mountains close by
2008: one of the いけばなikebana displays for the いけばなプロメナードIkebana Promenade near Togetsukyo
2008: Students from 京都嵯峨芸術大学Kyoto Saga University of Art are responsible for a good part of the light-up at Nakanoshima Park, like the あざやか巨大行灯群の競演「竹造」”Group of Brilliant Giant Lanterns: ‘Bamboo Construction'”.
clockwise from top left: 2006- an art display that reminded me of a jellyfish; 2007- warming up on another art display made for that very purpose; 2010- another art display that flashes when one smiles at a camera; 2014- お絵かき灯路o-ekaki tohro, or hand-drawn lanterns; 2013- ; 2008- another art display offset by the mountains; 2009- college students performing
2013: コトノハ行灯Kotonoha Andon (Lanterns of Words), the 紅葉kohyoh (fall leaves) version of wishes that we did at 東山花灯路Higashiyama Hanatoro earlier this year, at 中之島公園Nakanoshima Park…in 2014 we found it in Chojin no Mori.
We didn’t start climbing up to 法輪寺Horin-ji Temple until 2013…I guess we were always ready to call it quits and have dinner before going home after getting to the park but now it doesn’t feel like we’ve gone to the hanatoro until we end the night there.
2014: the stairs up to 法輪寺Horin-ji Temple…D-K LIVE (D-K means “digital kakejiku“) is where the temple becomes a scroll for digital artwork.
2013: climbing up the mountains to the temple
2013: finally getting to the stairs lined with the second annual competition winner, 「夜雲灯」”Night Cloud Light”, up to the temple
2011: Hana-yui no Ki, or “Fixed-flower Tree” halfway up the stairs to the temple…the flowers were fastened on by those who wished to do so.
What a sight to behold when reaching the temple grounds: the 本堂hondoh (main temple building)
2013: there was an artist singing ethereal-like song (perfect in the scene) when we arrived.
2014: to the right of the hondo
2014: to the left of the hondo
2013: Tsujimura displayed their Kyoto paper lanterns on the platform that looks down at Arashiyama
2013: looking down at the Togetsukyo area
2013: looking down at the Nakanoshima Park area
2014: the view of the temple grounds from the platform
Rika and I participated in the stamp rally in 2010 and 2011 (the picture is of the sheet in 2011, our last destination being Horin-ji Temple); my prizes for completing it were some ちびまるこChibi Maruko chopsticks and a CD by a local artist, 大奈Daina, for the hanatoro respectively.
2013: enjoying some free ホットアップルティーhot apple tea before heading down
2014: going down close to the entrance for 松尾大社Matsuo-Taisha Shrine
And this usually is the end of the hanatoro for us and the start of our trek back to JR Saga Arashiyama Station to head home by train.
examples of some of the lanterns seen throughout the years: 2006- 京銘竹露地行灯Kyoto bamboo lantern; 2007- a 京焼・清水焼Kyo-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki lantern; 2010: the first annual competition winner,「落花灯」”Fallen Blossom Light; 2011- 漆塗露地灯lacquered lantern; 2013- the fifth annual winner「京なす」”Kyoto Eggplant; 2014- the sixth annual winner,「京人」”Kyotoite”
some of the eats in which we indulged: 2008- 桜もちジェラートsakura-mochi (cherry-blossom, rice-cake) gelato from ARASHIYAMA 新八茶屋shinpachi jaya; 2009- 五平餅gohei-mochi, or rice cake on sticks covered in sweet miso from 古都芋本舗Kotoimo-Honpo; ジャンボ焼き鳥jumbo yakitori (chicken on skewers) from a stall at Nakanoshima Park; 2011- みたらし団子mitarashi dango from a stall at Torokko Arashiyama Station; 2013- 黒豆抹茶蒸しパンkuro-mame maccha mushi-pan (steamed black-bean, green-tea bread) at Torokko Arashiyama Station and a stall for homemade ハニージンジャーhoney ginger near Rakushisha and はちみつレモンhachimitsu (honey) lemon drinks; 2014- Rika and I indulged in the homemade drinks again, in front of たまごやTamago-ya, a shop that sells mainly eggs or goods made from eggs, while only I got a hard-boiled egg from Tamago-ya
some of the shops that remind me of the event: 2006- a frog statue outside 小陶宛Kotoen, a ceramics shop near Nison-in Temple that I call “Era” because he looks 偉そうerasou, or proud sitting with his arms and legs crossed; 2007- meditating 坊主bouzu, or Buddhist priest statue, that I simply call “Bozu” outside Kotoen; 2008- “Bozu” and a lantern and a basin outside Kotoen and a display case outside of まゆ村嵐山店Mayumura Arashiyama, a shop that sells goods made from silkworm cocoons; 2014- Kotoen from outside and jam hanging from a tree at 寿庵Juan, a 雑貨屋zakka-ya, or a shop that sells Japanese-style miscellaneous goods
There are still plenty to see that I didn’t include in this already-long post (it took me over two months to sift through my pictures and gather information while tending to life!). Despite the hordes of people who seem to grow as the years go by and the threat of rain at times not to mention the cold, it’s still an experience I would regret not attending.