In Vilnius definitely, we had an amazing time as we experienced Vilnius with locals. With its easy, confident charm and a warm, golden glow it made me wish to stay in Vilnius for every summer evening, every year (as I know that I wouldn’t survive their winter 🙁 )
Sunset in Lithuania deserves a whole new post. I am actually not used to sit and just look at the sunset, but in Lithuania, it was really mind-blowing. Once in a while, simple things can impact you even if in the beginning you are not aware of it.
Traveling to Lithuania turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know what to expect from this tiny Baltic country, as I barely knew few things about it. It turned out to be an amazing and unique country, which lead me to want to get to know more about it.
Today is Tanabata (the night of the 7th), a festival traditionally held on the seventh of the seventh month, often celebrated wherever there are children. It could well be that this feast has been revived in recent years since it was reported in 1910 that it was rarely celebrated in Tokyo, whereas now it seems to be a time chosen for young children all over the land to practice their calligraphy.
According to an old fairy tale of Chinese origin, the night of Tanabata is the only one during the year when the two stars Vega and Altair, known as the celestial princess weaver and her cowherd lover, may meet. The tale has it that the couple fell in love, and, although they were allowed to marry, they spent too much time with each other and neglected their work of weaving and herding. Thus, the weaver princess and her lover were banished by the heavenly emperor, her father, to live on the opposite side of the Milky Way. Once a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month, a flock of magpies forms a bridge so that they may meet. However, if it should happen to rain, the magpies are said to be unable to do this so that the couple must wait for another year. To avoid such a sad fate as befell the weaver and the cowherd, children demonstrate their industry each year by writing out some calligraphy. Bamboo branches are erected in homes, nurseries, and kindergartens, and decorated with wishes written out on tony strips of colored paper. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day.
I was walking through the sultry day. Walking, while too many things were growing inside me, many of which I didn’t even know how to name. I was out since I have arrived in Kyoto, and that was that morning at half past 6. My feet were hurting from walking whole day, I felt that with every step the new blister was sprouting on my feet. Kyoto is beautiful, I understood that, but I didn’t have time to think about it in that moment. Arturo Bandini was arising in me, I wanted to sit on the canal bank and to draw ships – failed, I wanted to buy a notebook – and to became a writer. To write page after page, to create characters and their decomposition lives, and then to decide to bury all of them, while going to infinity, as the day goes on.
Everybody sometimes has their bad days. My bad day was the first day I arrived in Kyoto. I do not know if the anger prevailed, or it was disappointment, hatred or fear of being alone in an unknown city, as I’ve lost a place to sleep for the next eight days.
Last night I had a dream. I was wearing stockings with pre-painted toenails, that I saw a few days ago on the internet as the latest craze in Japan. Only in these stockings, I was running around and trying to catch the sushi that was flying all over Tokyo, with my sweep net, as on the picture I found yesterday night. You cannot believe how happy I was.
When I woke up, I realized how much I miss Japan, although it passed only 10 days.
One more unique experience gained this weekend: Kanamara Matsuri, or the Phallus festival.
This festival features, as you might expect, the display of numerous giant phalluses, penis-shaped snacks, and a mikoshi (portable shrine) parade which includes the distinctive pink ‘Elizabeth Mikoshi’ which was donated by a drag queen club in Tokyo called “Elizabeth Kaikan”(here they are carrying out a Shinto ritual in order to “transfer” the Gods from the shrine to the portable one to be carried through the streets and to bless/purify it).
Outside the procession, vendors and stores were selling phallic-shaped candies and goods. The prices were ridiculous, but that didn’t stop people (including me) from buying and licking overpriced, penis and vagina-shaped lollipops.
Onsen is an important part of Japanese culture. They are geothermal-heated public baths (heated to at least 25°C ) and they can be located either indoors or outdoors (the foremost benefits are that they warm the body and impart physical and mental relaxation; some of them also contain certain dissolved minerals, which are said to help heal illness or injuries).
The most popular legend about how the local love of hot springs originated in Japan, is the story of a Buddhist monk stumbling upon an area full of wounded animals bathing in the hot springs thousands of years ago. When the animals emerged, he noticed they were completely healed. The monk realized these hot springs were special and that people should reap the rewards of their mineral-filled waters.
I met a girl from Taiwan, with whom I was laughing for the whole night in a Japanese traditional house, while dressed like a pumpkin and a pirate girl.
I met a boy from Thailand, who was the best at making jokes but also at telling lies. Actually, he was one of the few people who actually knew about Montenegro. Or was it just another lie?
I met a bunch of young people, who liked to cook together. They even cooked my favorite Japanese food for my birthday. And they bought me a strawberry cake. And the strawberry cake is something special to me.