While the summer heats up in Japan, one place to cool off is the mountainous town of Kibune on the outskirts of Northern Kyoto.
Kawadoko, dining on traditional Japanese food served while sitting over the floor of the Kibune River, is something not short of spectacular. On a recent trip with Community House and Information Center, the roar of the river was powerful at Kibune Kiraku restaurant, as was the cool breeze as we lunched on yodofu, hot tofu with vegetables, dashi, crispy tempura, and pickled vegetables.
Walking up the tiny road strung with hanging lanterns and enjoying the mountain views and lovely pines that in many ways reminded me of my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, we came to Hirobun restaurant to try Nagashi-somen, noodle catching.
Again, seated over the river floor, it faces another restaurant that is situated over a water fall. There you sit on the tatami mats and catch somen noodles coming out of bamboo slide in cold water. It’s all-you-can-eat of these thin, Asian noodles made of wheat, or all-you-can-catch rather, to dip in sauce and have matcha and wagashi, Japanese green tea and sweets as well. When red noodles come out, you know it’s the last run. Lots of fun! And it’s only served during the summer
Legend says that the Goddess Tamayori-hime, mother of the legendary first emperor of Japan Jimmu, appeared on a yellow boat in Osaka Bay and declared that the people were to build a shrine wherever the boat’s journey ended and enshrine the local deities of that place to ensure the prosperity of the country. The boat is then said to have traveled up the Yodo River to the Kamogawa in Kyoto and come to rest at the site at the present Kifune Shrine’s Okunomiya, where it said the boat remains to this day buried beneath a stone cairn.
In 796, the deity of the Kibune area is said to have appeared in the dreams of a Fujiwara clan member, showing him the neighboring mountain of Mt Kurama, commanding him to build a temple there.
Generations of emperors would send official delegations to the shrine to present horses as gifts to the deities when they needed to change the weather. When asking for rain, the court would present a black horse; when asking for clear skies, a white horse.
It is said that this may be one start to the current practice of ema, wooden boards that are written on and hung up at shrines to pray for something, as both gifting and taking care of a large number of horses became difficult in modern times.
I selected an omikuji, fortune, that was revealed to be when I dipped it in water. I got the big luck! And here I am in Japan Lucky indeed!