Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nagano Surprises

Has this travel experience ever happened to you?

... You are on a trip somewhere and decide to wander without much expectation. Maybe you're in transit and haven't reached your destination. Or it's the end of your trip and you're wiped out. In any case, you don't have any goal in mind except to get a meal and a good night's sleep. Then before you know it, you find yourself pulled into the most random amazing community event.

It happened to us last weekend when we stopped off in Nagano. We were on our way to viewing the snow monkeys the next day and had no plans for the evening except to find a cozy restaurant for dinner.

Filling our empty stomachs was our only objective until we noticed these enticing lights lining the road.
Following the lantern path, we stumbled onto Zenkoji Temple, where there happened to be a luminary celebration festival. Zenkoji Temple is a Buddhist temple and one of the last remaining pilgrimage sites in Japan.

Not to do things half-way, Nagano residents adorned the mountain village streets with an array of luminaries to brighten up this chilly winter night.

Lamppost luminaries
Hundreds of lanterns with intricate paper carvings inside
It must have taken hours for someone to sit and create this detailed piece...
A special treat were the kaleidoscope shapes and colors projected onto the side of a temple
For 500 yen (about $5 US), we bought a luminary and wrote our goodwill message to Nagano to place in the long line of luminaries on the street.
So, what started off as a simple outing turned into a special night filled with twinkling lights, a feeling of connectedness, and a reminder of the wonderful unexpected aspects of travel. Perfect for a Valentine's Weekend.
Have you ever unexpectedly stumbled onto a community event while traveling?

Stay tuned for snow monkeys in the next post- Coming soon!


Civilla said...

Thanks for coming to my blog!

Ekua said...

I've definitely had moments like that stumbling upon a random festivity. It happened to me in Laos. Those are some of the best most unforgettable moments!

Peter and Stephanie said...

how amazing!!!!!! i dont think it was coincidence that you and your love stumbled into a totally romantical experience like was fate!

Kadena Youth Programs said...

Awesome! You guys got lucky - it looks beautiful! I can't wait to see the monkeys! :)

my Hotel Life said...

Very cool experience!

shopgirl said...

I see you have a white touque! I have one too. We can be touque buddies :-)) Just kidding!

Love the husband just saw these photos and now he wants us to visit you guys in Japan!

Have a brilliant weekend!


shopgirl said...

Oops, forgot to say - yes this experience has happened to me before. I remember many years ago, being somewhere in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra (I think). I was on three of the Bali islands and now the trip is a bit of a blur. But in this particular town, we were just looking for a place to eat and stay and we were invited to a town party hosted by the Mayor and then we became honoured guests. I wish I could remember it better now.

Aww...the hazards of getting old. It's difficult to remember the details.


Mary and Sean said...

Don't you just love spontaneous travel encounters?

jen laceda said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope to get to know your guys better through your blog.

These are amazing lantern shots! I love lanterns!


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