Konnichiwa from Kyoto!

By: Ellie and Michaela

Mother Nature’s song
Cascading like a waterfall
Pure water from the heavens ™ Michaela Neuzil

ImageAfter a long day of traveling and ridding the bullet train we arrived in Kyoto. We got off and walked around Kyoto Station and viewed the architecture and sky gardens. Then, we ventured to Teramachi Street and got a smell of the side shops/markets which was very busy given that it was Golden Week. In Teramachi Street, we saw things like octopi on a stick along with the replica of the famous crab. 

The next day, we got a private tour thanks to our guide named Ayako Kiyono.

Royanji Temple: This Temple is home to one of the most famous rock gardens, which was created around 1500 by a highly respected monk.  Dry landscaping is commonly found at buddhist temples and are open for interpretation.  Zen-Buddhism is known for constructing your own reality.  What you get out of the rock garden is up to you.  In this particular layout there are only fifteen rocks and white gravel.  Legend says that if you can see all fifteen rocks, you will reach enlightenment like the Buddha.  Today, this temple is used for Zen training.

Image We have seen a lot of Buddha statues so far and today our tour guide said that at most statues you can make a wish, but first you should look at the position of their hands.  The hand position that the Buddha had today represented “picking up spirits” so you don’t want to make a wish at that Buddha!  

Golden PavilionKinkaku (The Golden Pavilion)/Rokuon-ji Temple: Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is rightly one of Kyoto’s most famous attractions. The pavilion was built by a samurai shogun who retired and became a Buddhist monk.  He wanted a place to relax and entertain Chinese messengers.  It was also the setting for one of the strangest and saddest stories in the city’s history. In 1950, a monk with a mental disorder burned down the pavilion before attempting to commit suicide. The outside of the temple is made of gold leaf. It was located right next to a small pond area that had little islands all around, each overflowing with beautiful views. Apparently from the top of the temple, the view of the pond area and the islands are supposed to look like the entire island of Japan.

ImageNijo Castle: Built in 1603 for the first Tokugawa Shogun then completed in 1626. The structure of the castle was designed to defend the shogun that lived there.  The castle was surrounded by a mote and strong walls.  Inside the building, were lavish paintings and carvings which were meant to intimidate guests or invaders.  Speaking of invaders, parts of the house were designed to alert the samarai when invaders arrived.  A special feature is the nightingale floor.  It squeaks like nightingale when people walk on it.  This is to prevent assassinations.  

 

 

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Now for Tea Time:
Then, we taxied ourselves over to Ochaya Tomikiku to have afternoon tea with a Maiko. The Tomikiku Teahouse was an apprentice to the geiko/geisha ways. We sat around a table and had dessert which was made out of grounded soybeans while the Maiko made each one of us tea. We learned the proper ways on how bow and properly take our tea. After the dessert and tea, we were entertained by the Miako’s dancing. She performed very well and we said our goodbyes. Lastly, we walked around some of Gion which is the most well known geisha districts in Kyoto.

Lovable and cute
Koala grams are oishii
My favorite treat ™ Ellie Schaffer

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