Plum Blossom Festival and Street Market

The plum trees are in bloom in Kyoto, and today marked the annual Plum Blossom Viewing Festival at Kitano Tenman Gu. These are a deep red plum blossom, but they also come in pink and white!

The first sign of spring in Kyoto is the arrival of the plums. They only bloom in Kyoto for a couple of weeks, and they had a late start this year after two late frosts in February. Today marked the official Plum Blossom Festival at Kitano, but because of the weather, only about two-thirds of the trees were actually in bloom. In another week, they will probably be more spectacular- so maybe I will try to make another trip to see them.

One of the best things about the festival today was that it was also the day for the monthly Street Market. There were several dozen vendors out- vendors from Tibet, and China.... people with old coins, kimono, obi, pickled products and dried fish. At some stalls there were carved jade, swords, medicine chests and even carved cats. There was one stall in particular though, the very last one that Nicky and I visited, that had something of amazing value: a Hina Matsuri Set.

Hina Matsuri sets are a doll set that is displayed in Japanese houses from late February until March 3rd, Girls’ Day. The sets includes roughly twelve dolls- a prince, princess, ladies in waiting, entertainers, ministers and samurai- and various royal court effects. We had seen many partial sets during the day, ranging from $100 to $500, but at this stall, was a very old, slightly scuffed set for only $25. We jumped on them immediately. The set needs a little love, but Nicky and I are both crafty people, so we’re up to the challenge. They really have a lot of character, and I am excited that we found a set like this... there’s no way we will ever come across a deal like that again.

The festival was pretty fun- crowded- as expected, but there was lots of delicious food (we actually bought a candied orange, which was unusual), and there was a gardener stall too. I really wish I had the option to bring trees back from Japan- they had weeping cherry trees for only $36! I love the market. I might try to go again next month!