Thoughts from Kyo(to)

The past few days, I visited Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, that is now only ‘lending’ the capital right to Tokyo, until the turmoil sets and old ways are restored. Being the symbol of geishas, maccha tea and drinking by the river, Kyoto is an amazing city retaining the past atmosphere; which means 1.5 day is definitely NOT enough to capture its magic. Unfortunately, I had only that limited amount of time at my disposal -plus a nasty 21:00 curfew. As I am not a travel guide, I will just mention some points and places that caught my interest.

First things first, I went to Kyoto with the Hikari bullet train. Contrary to my expectation, the ride was smooth, I didn’t notice any sound and I barely even realized when the train stopped at a station.

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There is an insane amount of temples(tera 寺) and shrines(jinja 神社) in Japan. You can identify which is what by looking for a simple clue: A Buddha statue for Buddhist temples and a torii gate ⛩️ for shinto shrines. Sometimes it is not so obvious, due to religious syncretism. In Kiyomizudera, you pass next to the huge Buddha statue, only to suddenly find yourself caressing some rocks decorated with ropes that will bond you forever with your soulmate. If you pay some extra bucks(~500yen) and write your wish on a wooden block (special shrines come with special designs), you can improve your chances for your wish to be fulfilled. If you are concerned about your luck, there are various ways to better it; you can squeeze your body through a tiny hole on a pillar (I did it, thus I’m lucky for the time being) or walk the holy route under a thousand torii gates (I did it only halfway, but I am already fortunate, so I guess it’s enough).

Nara, the empire capital before Kyoto (around 8th century) is abundant not only in ancient temples, but also in deers roaming around freely. The most famous sightseeing location is the Todaiji-temple. It has been burnt down 2 times and erected 3. In order to avoid the fuss of rebuilding, metal decorative charms shaped as fish tales are mounted on the roof.

If you are tired, a vending machine will always be there for you. Of course, part of a vending machine’s duty is to blend into the background.

The bamboo forest in Arashiyama has recently been on the spotlight, thanks to films with samurais fighting fiercely among the bamboo. Sometimes, visitors mark their presence by scratching their names on the bark of a bamboo tree.

But because winter is not over yet, and we love nature, here’s a traditional technique to protect the young trees in your garden from the ice.

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Enjoy the rest of the photos!

 

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