Monday, May 10, 2010

Culture Club goes to the Ome Plum Festival

March 4th our Culture Club went into Ome for the Plum Blossom Fest. The area we went to is known as the 3rd best area in Japan for viewing the plum blossom trees. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, the weather was FREEZING that day. And there had also been a slight language barrier - we thought we were going to a doll museum (which meant we would be inside). I was NOT dressed for the cold, and neither was poor Mallory, but we made the best of it.
Walking up the road to the festival (which they call EVERYTHING in Japan a festival- it is really just the plum blossom season, and not a festival at all), there were many vendors selling various types of food.
A few of the plum blossom trees. They are called plum trees, but do not actually produce plums. Just like the famous cherry blossom trees here don't grow cherries either. Odd, but true fact.

The Culture Club leader, Kimiko and her husband (both in yellow).
Along the pathway

This sign says something about how the tree near it was one of the first ones in the area and helped produce all the other trees on the hill.
Close up of one of the blossoms
The area is basically a big hillside with trees covering it. It is quite beautiful when they are all in bloom. We were actually there about 1-2 weeks early, so they had started to blossom, but weren't in full bloom at the time.

Some of the group

Walking back down the path

These were hanging all over around the Ome area. I am sure it says something about the plum blossoms.
Mallory and myself enjoying the flowers, and trying not to freeze to death. Thankfully Kimiko had an extra blanket in her car!
A few group pictures

This sign says "Welcome Eyeball". Ummm...ok.
After walking around the plum blossoms, we drove over to a museum in Ome (so we weren't totally off with the Japanese/English translation- we had just somehow missed the fact that we would be outside first). Here we are going into the museum. This cute little post box was just outside the museum.
We were at the museum on March 4th, but March 3rd is what is known in Japan as "Girls Day". They put out elaborate doll displays for their daughter's on this day each year, that symbolize their life structure and when they will get married and various other things. Luckily, we had little Kirsten and baby Mallory along with us- hopefully they will both live long, happy lives b/c we celebrate Girls Day here (just 1 day late).
Here is a close up of a Hino Doll display- they represent the Emperor and his wife.
Discussing the doll dislays
Posing by one of the displays.
As you can see, the displays are on "steps". Each level represents something- the top level is the emperor, then the caretakers/teachers, then musicians, then samurai...various levels until you get to the bottom. Each level is "high ranking" than the one below it.
The museum had a few other intersting displays too- this one is showing silk worms and the steps to make silk.
After a tour of the museum, the Japanese ladies set up a lovely picnic for us. Unfortunately, it was outside and it was still very cold. We ate, but by the end it was time to go as the babies were crying from being cold, and I was about ready to join them. It was a fun day though, with beautiful sights and great company, as always.

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