A trip to the former capital: Kyoto
Trip Start Oct 30, 2011
24Trip End Ongoing
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Once again sorry for not updating regularly! At the moment I`m already in Hiroshima, after visiting Kyoto adn Osaka. In the next couple of days I`ll also try to write a bit about Osaka and Hiroshima, but now first Kyoto!
About a 1000 years ago Kyoto was the capital of Japan, and it stayed like that for several hundred years. Because it was the capital for so long, there is a lot to see in terms of temples, shrines and museums. And a whopping 17 Unesco world heritage sites!!! Needless to say, I visited a lot of temples and shrines in those 5 days I spend in Kyoto, so I will just tell you about the couple interesting ones... One of the best and most famous ones is fushimi-inari taisha. All Shinto shrines here have at least one torii gate at the entrance. If you pass under it, you go for the normal world to a sacred land (or so they believe)
Another temple I really liked was Sanjusangendo temple. It had 1000 1001-armed buddha statues and 28 different, very detailed kannon (deity) statues. If you are looking for the picture of this one, you can stop. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside :(
And finally in the category pretty temples: Kinkaku-ji, the golden pavillion. Again, see picture. As it turns out, it really has gold on it! Unlike the silver pavillion. That one was supposed to receive a silver layer, but the owner couldn`t afford it : (
On my third night, I went to a Japanese culture show. There were many different parts: tea ceremony, court music, theater and the best of all: Maiko dance! So let me explain something: in Kyoto dialect, a Maiko is a Geisha in training
Another really cool thing I went to is the monkey park. At the park, which is actually more a big j\hill, there are 130 wild monkeys. you can feed them peanuts and apples. but you can only feed them, when you are inside, behind bars and the monkeys are outside. Or else they will grab everything and maybe bite or scratch. it was really cool, because the monkeys were wild, but they still came pretty close to look for food.
Besides Kyoto I also made a small day trip to Hikone, famous for it`s castle, see picture. Currently, there are only 12 original castles in Japan. The rest burned down or were otherwise destroyed. Of course some of them were rebuild in the last 100 years or so, in the original style, but they are not the `real deal`
The last bit about something else typically Japanese; the autumn leaves viewing. In autumn most leaves will turn yellow and red, just like with us but maybe a bit brighter. Everyone will get really excited and go to parks, temples and other places with lots of trees. Some will even go to other cities to see the leaves. When they get to a city, Kyoto for instance, there is a sign at the tourist information office, listing the colors of the leaves in the different places, see picture. A lot of people will then go there (all hotels booked out), take pictures of the trees, themselves with the trees, individual leaves, more trees, from a viewing point to see all the trees and them maybe pose a bit more with a couple of trees. They are really serious about this leave viewing thing. I`ve seen people take a picture of nearly every tree with colored leaves. I`m told in spring in is ten times worse for hanami, the cherry blossom viewing. I liked the colored leaves and they make for really nice pictures, but after a couple of days it gets a bit. Here the same thing will repeat next year, again for a couple of weeks. I think this is another Japanese thing that I just don`t fully understand...
So next time a bit about Osaka and Nara and hopefull soon after, when I find the time a story about my time in Hiroshima.