Asian Adventures, Spring 2015: Kyoto, Japan

May 21st, 2015
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As I’ve spent a few weeks spending some time in Japan, Korea, and China, over the next few posts, I’ll be outlining my itinerary with explanations of what exactly I experienced and thought of the cultural exposure in each of these countries. You can read what I’ve posted already by clicking on the link below:

Japan

After spending several days in Tokyo with its huge buildings and neon signs, Kyoto felt like a break. I rode the Shinkansen train (bullet train) to Kyoto which is about two hours away from Tokyo.  The scenery was beautiful and I tried to get a glimpse of Mount Fuji but was unable to see it at all. I was able to get in a brief nap as well.  Once I arrived in Kyoto, I was still impressed by the cleanliness of the train station and the modern looking structure.  It looked brand new.

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Kyoto

I managed to find my way to Matsubaya Ryokan, the traditional Japanese inn that I booked, which was a 10 minute walk from the station. Once settled in, I strolled over to the Gion area of Kyoto for a tea ceremony at Camellia Tea Ceremony. Not only was the stroll over wonderful, the tea ceremony was excellent.  The host was wonderful and provided some good conversation when I arrived.  I was early so she suggested I explore the area first and then return. I popped into a few stores along the stretch between Camellia’s building and the main road before I returned.  The tea ceremony itself was a relaxing experience and I seemed have found some very chatty group of tourists as well.  Based on the information from the tea ceremony, I ended up noting to myself to add Uji to my list to see on my day trip out of Kyoto.

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Camellia Tea Ceremony

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Camellia Tea Ceremony

Along with the tea ceremony, the following day I explored the city and also saw a show put on by the Geishas-in-training.  Although I couldn’t take any pictures during the show, it was a wonderful experience of traditional dances with great set design.  I wish we were allowed to take pictures as I would have like to share it with you.

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Gion Area of Kyoto

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Gion Area of Kyoto

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Gion Area of Kyoto

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Gion Area of Kyoto

Nijo Castle was a great site to see.  I was reading up on this location during my stay in Kyoto and intrigued me.  The floors were squeaky which were done on purpose. I had forgotten that this was the case and considering the number of school groups visiting, I thought it was the children being noisy.  The floors noise sounded like tweeting and was done so that intruders into the castle could be heard to notify those in the castle.  There was a picture near the entrance of how this was accomplished.

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Gardens at Nijo Castle

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Structure of the Nightingale Floor at Nijo Castle

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Nijo Castle

Kyoto itself was great mixture of old and new.  I explored the older neighbourhoods found in the Gion area and found myself in the modern parts of the city as well as I walked through these areas between Gion and the inn.

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Garden Space in Kyoto

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Views near the Folk Musuem in Kyoto

I had planned an extra day Kyoto so that I could do a day trip to Nara and Uji.  Stay tuned to the next post as I’ll explain what I did in these two places.

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