Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kyoto, Japan

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto

Light filtered through the pale green bamboo, casting everything in a cool, softer hue. Everything was calm and quiet. Tiny leaves trickled down from far above. "If you catch one it's good luck," Julius told me. At that moment everything in Japan was magical.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

At Kiyomizu-dera Temple, tourists disguised themselves as geishas unsuccesfully. Their posture and body language gave them away, revealing that they weren't more distinguished than any of us. It's extremely rare to see real Geishas in Kyoto.


No matter where you are on the social ladder in Japan, everyone can have their own throne. The abundance of hi-tech toilets is fascinating. I've never had so much fun in the toilet. There are so many special buttons and gadgets. There’s a fine spray that tickles. For a more powerful spray, use the bidet option. And if you're embarrassed about making noises whilst using the toilet, don't flush to cover it up - use the flushing sound button! It's much more eco-friendly. Japan must be the country with the cleanest butts in the world.

Hi-Tech Toilet

Toilet Controller

Upon strolling through the gorgeously groomed zen gardens of Ginkakuji, the Silver Temple, I paused to look for frogs. I heard them, but I couldn't see them. My theory is that it was a frog sound effect and that there weren't really any frogs, but Julius disagrees. Japan is a country that values vocal prompts - the Japanese ambulence boasts a woman's voice telling everyone to get out of the way - so it wouldn't be too incredible to have a croaking noise in a frogless garden. If anyone knows the truth, I'm dying to know!

Ginkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple
Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple is a too much bling for me, but it is amazing. They didn't use gold paint as I first thought, but sheets of gold paper clothe the temple. I'm surprised people don't try to rob the temple over night - it must be heavily guarded.

The Imperial Palace was enormous and the surrounding natural gardens were immense. Most of the walkways are gravel, and workers are paid to tidy and straighten the rocks to make them look presentable. This must be why unemployment in Japan is so low.

Our friends took us to a very good Japanese restaurant where we enjoyed a colorful and delicious dinner. Each dish was a work of art.

A sashimi garden on a plate

I loved Japan and would have stayed longer if my credit card would have allowed it. I was used to the constant bowing and the bus drivers who thanked every single person as they left the bus. Removing my shoes at people's homes and even some public places was easy and made sense, but it was time to move on to the next destination: China. I knew it would be a shock, but I didn't know how much of a shock...

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