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May 18th and the 19th
    A trip to Kyoto
Monday began with a train ride on the Shinkansen to Kyoto. The 180 mile an hour train is remarkable in its smooth ride and beautiful scenery. Mt. Fuji was easily seen with its snow capped top overlooking rice fields spotted across the landscape. Arriving 2 1/2 hours later in Kyoto the city is surrounded by mountains with a flat river cutting it in two, a beautiful little city with its old historical buildings and rich heritage.

Kamagoryo Temple was preparing for a community parade complete with huge shrines carried by men and animals from ox to horses. It was interesting to see the monks carrying out their rituals and the people surrounding the area watching the festivities. The food vendors supplied local delicacies and with the children Blog 4dressed in the traditional costumes assured that the historical significance would be handed down to the next generation.

The Rokuon-Ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion is our next stop. Built in 1220, it is covered with gold-leaf on Japanese lacquer. Created by Shogun Yoshimitsu, he made a special effort to make it as breath-taking as possible. Looking at the Pavilion over the quiet pond with blooming irises truly lives up to that idea.

blog 3Later that day we drive up through Gion and to the Kiyomizu Temple. Atop a mountain, this temple complex sits perched on the edge, giving views out over Kyoto that are spectacular. At twilight we walk the streets of Gion, the district that houses the geishas, and after just a few minutes we get a glimpse of one as she hurries off to her appointment. Shops upon tiny shops line the streets, sweets, souvenirs and eateries fill the area of Gion, a favorite for shopping and just looking.

The next day we tour the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years.. This complex sits on 27 acres and comprises a hall for courtiers, buildings for meeting visiting dignitaries, and living quarters for the emperor and his family. Built entirely of wood and connected by covered pavilions, the roofs were made of approximately 70 layers of wood bark. Flanked by an incredible garden which mimicked a small land mass, rocks imitates islands and the pond is the sea, a breathtaking site off the Imperial families quarters.Blog 4

The Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the official Kyoto residence of the Shogun, Ieyasu. Chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site it is one of the finest examples of Edo period architecture. Filled with tatami mats, sliding doors and beautifully painted walls of cranes and pine trees, its immense size is amazing. Room upon room was designated with separate purposes for meetings and family quarters. The most unique feature is the floor boards. Fitted with clamps and nails underneath the floors, this gives a chirping and singing sound of a nightingale. As we walk along the corridor, it sounds as if the room is filled with nightingales all singing their beautiful song. This prevented any sneak attack against the shogun and kept the samurai always on alert.


We leave Kyoto on the Shinkansen, a step from the old world Japan and back to modern Tokyo. But it was wonderful to step back in time for just for a few days.

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es·thet·ic or es·thet·ic  - adj. - The appreciation of beauty or good taste,
characterized by a heightened sensitivity to beauty.

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