Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blinded by the Light at Dazaifu

My apologies for the overexposed images here. The sun at Dazaifu was so bright that Justin actually had to use a post-production filter to turn down the color of the sidewalk. Madness!

A group of us teachers schlepped out to the town and temple complex of Dazaifu via subway, train, and subway again, a not-at-all arduous journey that took less time than just getting downtown from our home in Seoul. (The reversible seats were pretty cool, too).

Waiting for fearless leader Maureen to tell us what to do for train tickets:

Local train:
Upon arrival in Dazaifu, Justin and fellow teacher Robert have a photo duel:
A local Dazaifu food specialty is Umegae-mochi (mochi is the Japanese for rice cake, which we knew as "tteok" in Korea). This is a little rice flour bun filled with a hot, sweet red bean paste cooked on these little griddle pans:

We got a bag for the teachers and passed it around. Each bun came individually saran-wrapped, which felt a bit excessive but upon reflection is probably necessary to keep them from melding with each other and forming one giant Umegae-mochi to rule them all. You can't be too careful.

Verdict: too hot to eat, but delicious once cooled.

We walked up the hill to the large Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine complex. It has an attractive facade:
and a lovely Monet's Garden footbridge:

There was, as you can see, shade around this area, so we spent a lot of time there. It was absolutely roasting hot - one of those days where your body is sweating on absolutely ever skin surface, including places you could swear didn't have sweat glands. Honestly, I think my fingernails were sweating.

The entire point of going to Japanese temples appears to be to buy things and then tie them to things. In the past you saw me tie up my depressing fortune. Here people seem to tie gourds. Why not? You gotta tie something.

But we were really there for the flea market. There are stalls spread out through the temple grounds - certainly more than fifty. They're known as a good place to buy old kimono. (Kimonos? I'm pretty sure kimono is its own plural, but I could be wrong).

Justin found a Christmas present for his mom (no, I'm not going to tell you what it is!). I waffled over buying a piece of fabric that I found with a Japanese World War II propaganda print. The price wasn't terribly high, about $20 USD, but the fabric has some holes in it because of the age. On the other hand, ever since I got a book called "Wearing Propaganda" out of the library at Edinburgh, it was the thing I promised myself I'd try to find here - for classroom use as well as for personal interest. Finally, Justin persuaded me to just buy it (we've spent $20 on stupider things). So here is my flea market propaganda textile:

Edited to add: This print appears very similar to the one in the kimono shown on this blog post, both having the blue-and-cream squares with images of planes and horsemen. According to the post, this sort of print was normally used for boys' clothing, and occupation forces ordered that surviving garments be destroyed after the war. Which answers two of my primary questions: 1) is the fabric real (I suspected yes because there's not a hot market for forgery) and 2) am I likely to find other examples (maybe not). Just as glad I bought this one then!

Next time: the Kyushu National Museum (link goes to PDF), where we hid out for the afternoon to dodge the sun.

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