Mayfield Garden's Winter Festival (Part Two)

Friday, September 18, 2020

Wearing: Wool Coat & Beanie from Nasty GalBettina Liano Jeans; Boots from Asos

Visiting: Mayfield Gardens during Winter Festival, 530 Mayfield Road, Oberon, NSW 2787. Winter Festival fee per person: $26.00 AUD per person. Last garden entry is 3pm. The garden shuts at 4:30pm (during Winter). All photos taken by me and Hai with Canon D70 DSLR

Following up from Part One of my trip to Mayfield Gardens, I am saving these photos so I can relive these memories from Winter. My favourite seasons are Spring and Fall but this year Winter left a lasting impression on me after visiting these gardens.

 At the Gardens, the leaves fell slowly, leaving brown and red ones still piled up on the ground while some speckled the tree tops. The leaves would crunch beneath my heavy boots while I traced my fingers along the cool stone fences. Air was chilly to breathe but it healed me every time because I was happy to be outside. I would wrap myself with my coat and pull my beanie down tighter against the breeze; the scarf I packed stayed in my bag as the sunlight kept me warm. Hot coffee in hand, my fingers were warm, but I would put it down every time Hai reached out to hold my hand. We sat down on benches hand in hand to admire the scenery in front of us, just like in the movies. The water still and the sky a pale blue stretched out meeting the hills. The world was big and we felt small in it. But it was okay because I had someone special wanting to walk by my side through this winter.

Japan Diaries: Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival (Part Two)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Japan DiariesFire Festival (Dosojin Matsuri) at Nozawa Onsen Village, Japan on 15th January 2019. Photos taken by me and Hai with Canon D70 DSLR and Google Pixel 3XL.

Following up on Part One blog post of our trip to Nozawa Onsen where we witnessed the famous Fire Festival in January 2019, I am now going to talk about the main event - the 'fight re-enactment' and the burning down of the shaden (shrine).

After grabbing some dinner, we then went back to the clearing to patiently wait for it to begin. With thousands of villagers and tourists gathering at the site, the excitement was mounting. At nightfall, the group of 42 year old villagers, dressed in red, started to climb the ladder to sit at the top of shaden. The group of 25 year old villagers, dressed in blue gathered around at the bottom, holding onto ropes and they start drinking and carrying about.

A man dressed in orange at the bottom then starts yelling out, introducing himself and starts getting the villagers at the shaden to do so as well. Each man at the top stood up, drank some sake and introduced themselves proudly. Hai and I don't understand Japanese, but we could feel how wonderful and joyous this occasion was.

Soon, some villagers (dressed in orange/beige) started putting up more shrines, adorned with paper flags and flowers, and a chanting begins. A parade of traditional drums get bought out, a show starts and the chanting grows louder.

Then, the bonfires around the shaden are lit, and all the participating villagers sets their reed torches alight, and start charging at the men at the bottom, attempting to set the shaden on fire. The 25 year old men spends their time defending the shaden, getting covered in soot and ashes for at least an hour. They get hit in the face and upper body while holding onto the ropes.

Eventually the group at the top start throwing down more reed torches to the villagers so they can continue their fight. It was electrifying to watch. All the locals were chanting and the crowds gasped in laughter when the villagers got a good hit in. Sake was passed around and we got to drink merrily with the villagers.

After hours of this re-enactment, the men defending the shaden admit their 'defeat' and they start climbing down the ladder to clear the area. Then the villagers attacking the shaden take it seriously and finally light it on fire, throwing in all surrounding shrines as well. The fire is huge and you feel the heat from so far away; the smoke and ash reaching the skies. Everyone continues their deafening chants as they wish for luck and a prosperous year, celebrating another successful Fire Festival.

Hai and I left at around 11.30pm, covered in soot and ash as the shaden finally burnt to the ground. Our legs were so sore from standing all day. The next morning when I opened our hotel windows, something amazing happened. It was snowing!!! This is exactly what this village prayed for, and they got it. I was so happy for them. I am so happy I got to witness such a great event with Nozawa Onsen.

You can read more about Part One here.

Femme Luxe Style Diary (Part Two)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Femme Luxe Lilac Tie Dye Oversized T-Shirt
Femme Luxe Lilac Tie Dye Oversized T-Shirt
Femme Luxe Lilac Tie Dye Oversized T-Shirt
Femme Luxe Lilac Tie Dye Oversized T-Shirt

Wearing: Femme Luxe Lilac Tie-Dyed T-shirt (sponsored); Lee Jeans; Vans Old Skool Sneakers, Cotton On Cap. Photos taken with Canon D70 DSLR.

A casual Natalie today - a simple tee, jeans and sneakers. It's not uncommon for me to be spotted in an outfit like this but I don't often get the time to blog about it. I picked this tee from Femme Luxe because my favourite colour is purple and I'm into tie-dyed these days so it was nice to grab a coffee feeling fresh.

I've been reading your comments from my last post, and I'm so happy to read encouraging words and an understanding of where I was coming from. It's comforting to know that my questions were relatable and that it can be feelings shared by all of us. For some context, in my last post I asked myself if I was vain, or if I was prioritising self-care/self-love. The Blogging community is so thoughtful, so I'm thanking you all <3

This past weekend, something amazing happened to me. I took my friend to Kiama's famous Blowhole in NSW. It's a natural cavern that spouts water with such force that it can go more than 20 metres high. Unfortunately we got there at low tide after spending too much time in Berry so the blowhole was inactive. But as me and my friend were walking away we heard lots of gasps from the crowds. They had spotted a humpback whale!! We rushed back and quickly looked out towards the sea. Then, a whale suddenly jumped out of the water, exposing its white belly and black fins, making a huge splash!

It was an amazing sight!! I was in awe and the crowds were delighted. I couldn't take my eyes off the water. We watched as 2 or 3 more whales appeared, spouting water and bobbing around before they eventually swam away. This lasted around twenty minutes.

When I told all my friends, they all gasped that a whale jumping was a rare thing to witness and they were delighted we got to see it for free! (usually you have to go on Whale Tours to see these things!)

I can now tick that one off my bucket list, and I wasn't even intending to whale watch that weekend. I guess I was just there at the right time! Life can be so sweet. Did anyone else do anything exciting this weekend?

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