Sunday, 8 January 2012

My Japan Story Part 2: I fall in love with Kyoto and the Japanese

We arrived at Kansai Airport and took a connecting train to Kyoto, about 45 minutes away. We stayed in Kyoto for many days and used it as a base to travel around the Kansai and the Western Honshu region. I love Kyoto very much. The city is peaceful, unlike the buzzling Tokyo and Osaka. It is so pretty that President Roosevelt who had been to Kyoto ordered the American army not to bomb the city. So today, Kyoto is one of the best preserved city in Japan.
It is full of beautiful parks such as the Maruyama Goen, Tokyo’s most famous sakura viewing site. It is also one of the sites that the Memoir of Geisha was filmed. Nearby is the is Yasaka Shrine, once used to be the place for up and coming Geishas came to pray in hope of looking for a good patron. The famous Gion district is not far away.
     At Ryoan-ji Temple.

Zen gardens and temples are also aplenty in Kyoto.  I went to quite a few but those that worth mention are Kiyomizu-dera, Nanzen-ji temple,Kinkaku-ji and my favourite Ryoan-ji temple. It is famous for its rock garden with 15 stones and composition of white gravel to create an impression of sea and islands. Many consider that to be the ultimate expression of Zen Buddhism. I created my mini rock garden like the one in Ryoan-ji when I came back. Sometimes need some peaceful moment to reflect on something, I will just look at my mini rock garden.
There is a very nice oyster bar at Niisiki Market and we came across it by accident. The oysters were half baked and the aroma can still make me salivating now. Somewhere near to Kiyomizu Dera, there is a stone paved street called “Sannenzaka” and it is said that if you fall down there, you will have bad luck for three years.

At the steps of Inari Fushimi.

Another interesting place that we went was Inari Fushimi in southern Kyoto famous for its torii gates. In the Memoir of Geisha, the young Sayuri ran up the steps along the tori gates upon knowing that Mameha would be her teacher.




Candid shot by my friend. So tired after the two hours walk along the Philosopher's Walk.



During the sakura season, walking along the Philosopher’s Walk would be nice but the day we walked the path, it was raining but that did not deter us from admiring the place and the temples and parks along it. We started from Ginkaku-ji Temple and ends at Nanzenji-Temple. By the time we reached there, I was soaked wet and tired. It is worth it. For more pictures of my Japan, please see them at my Facebook.
From the moment I step out from the airport, my impression about the Japanese changed. They are polite, courteous and helpful. Even though they do not understand English, they tried their best to answer our questions. There was even an incident in Kyoto, when we first arrived; we asked a man for the location of the Ryokan that we wanted to go. Guess what? He walked us to the place, about 20 minutes away.
Another incident, we asked a lady for the location of a restaurant. She gave us the direction and we walked to the way that she said. Halfway through, she was running from the back and told us that she gave us the wrong direction and guided us to the right one. Never for once that when we had asked for help that we were turned down during our 27 days stay there.Throughout my travel around the world, I never met such nice people.
How can the ancestors of such a nice people kill millions, forced countless of ladies to be comfort woman during WW II and still refuse to admit their mistakes? I was puzzled till today.

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