Nara #7: Goldfish Scooping (金魚すくい)

Today is my city’s summer festival! … it is also right during a typhoon. I’m hoping the rain will stop long enough for me to go and enjoy walking around, try all the yummy festival foods, and play games before watching tonight’s events but, well, I’m not holding much hope for that. But since I can’t be outside enjoying the festival right now, I’ll tell you about a festival themed postcard instead!

Nara’s 7th prefecture pictures the interesting “kingyo sukui”, translated to “goldfish scooping”. What, exactly, is goldfish scooping!? It’s a popular summer game involving using a paper-covered scoop (called “poi”) to try to grab a goldfish out of a small kiddie pool. Since the scoop is paper, it dissolves quickly, making it difficult to grab your favorite goldfish before you lose your chance! If you do win, they’ll bag up your goldfish so you can take your new pet home.

This game is played at every festival across Japan, but Nara’s Yamatokoriyama City is where the National Goldfish Scooping Championship is held. This year’s event is on August 23rd (it is always held on the 3rd Sunday in August) and you can read a little about it in English on the official City Event page here (scroll to the bottom).

Goldfish scooping can be seen at summer festivals throughout Japan, nestled between food booths, and each go is usually around 300 yen. Yamatokoriyama City has many goldfish farms and is known for their high quality breeding, and every year in April, there is an exhibition at the Yanagisawa Shrine in Yamatokoriyama City where breeders and collectors can mingle.

Edited to add: At my local festival (yes I finally went out), there was a goldfish scooping booth! Here are a few pictures:

And speaking of Goldfish, although this has nothing to do with goldfish scooping, right now in Tokyo and Hiroshima (and Milan!), the famous Art Aquarium goldfish exhibit is going on! If you’re a fan of goldfish, this is a great exhibit to see! Please check here for more information. Finally, goldfish in general are a popular summer motif in Japan, so it’s easy to find goldfish themed… well… anything!

A quick note: It may be tempting to try goldfish scooping for yourself, but please remember goldfish are living creatures, and to have a plan if you do get some! You can always give them back to the booth if you don’t have the ability to take care of them, but DON’T DUMP goldfish into ponds, rivers, or sewage systems! Please scoop responsibly!

Nara #4: Mt. Yoshino Cherries (吉野山の桜)

Also featured in the most recent postcard element post, today we’re in the Kansai region to look at Nara’s Mt. Yoshino, famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring, which currently are in full bloom! This is actually Japan’s MOST famous spot for sakura, eclipsing even Ueno Park’s popularity.

Mt. Yoshino also offers a great chance to see the blooms for a long period of time, due to the different elevations of the trees. From when the trees bloom at the bottom to when they bloom at the top can be a week or more difference, offering tourists a great chance to see them regardless of when they visit!

Well, outside of cherry blossom season you’re out of luck, but there’s more to Mt. Yoshino than its cherries, even if they’re the most famous part! There’s also several shrines and temples in the area to satisfy the traveler spiritually, and enough nature to give the weary a rest. If you’ve got some time, oh… now, head to Nara to see Japan’s most famous cherry blooming spot!

And take some pictures for me… I’ve never been!

(For more information in English I recommend clicking here!)

Cherry Blossom Season

Ahhh, Spring has sprung! A number of exceptionally warm days has heralded the start of the sakura (Cherry Blossom) season, and blooms have popped open on trees like popcorn, seemingly overnight! It feels like only yesterday it was cold and miserable, with the plums barely starting. Now it is a huge change!

Today I bring you another Postcard Element Post, this time highlighting everyone’s favorite flower! It seems to be postacollect’s favorite too, as we have a whopping 6 postcards featuring or containing sakura!

Aichi #4: Inuyama Castle (犬山城)
Nara #4: Mt. Yoshino Cherries (吉野山の桜)
Shizuoka #6: Mt. Fuji Hongu Sengen Shrine (富士山本宮浅間大社)
Aomori #7: Hirosaki Castle (弘前城)
Fukushima #7: Miharu Waterfall Cherry Tree (三春滝桜)
Kyoto #7: Ryuuan Temple Rock Garden (龍安寺石庭)

And a close up of the real thing:

I hope you can enjoy these beautiful flowers!

(Also, apologies for posting this a day late!)