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Spring-time in Kyoto 京都に春を楽しみ

May 4, 2010

Kyoto is definitely one of my favourite places in Kansai and I try to visit a couple of times when I return to Japan.  On different days and with different friends I visited Gion and Higashiyama as well as Arashiyama; some of my favourite areas in the old capitol.

京都は好きです。日本に帰る時、行きます。今回、友達一緒に祇園と東山へ行きました。数日後、嵐山に行きました。

You have two train options for going into Kyoto from Osaka: Japan Rail (JR) or Hankyu.  Most tourists take the JR line because it’s a bit quicker and JR Kyoto station is also well situated for bus service.  Personally, I prefer the Hankyu line.  Sure, it takes a bit longer but I think the route is more scenic and the trains are from an older age so in my mind, are a lot nicer to travel in.  We got off at Karasuma station and headed north because I wanted to visit Rokkaku-do.  Some bits of trivia about this temple: it’s where the art of traditional flower arrangement (ikebana) was begun, it’s the geographical centre of Kyoto, dating from the 8th century it’s one of the oldest temples in Kyoto and  it’s unique in that the shape of the temple is hexagonal, which is where its name comes from (rokkaku means hexagon).

大阪から電車で行き方は二つがあります。ツーリストはJR線で行きます。早いやバースの乗り換えが便利です。僕は阪急線のほうが好きです。阪急の号車は古いですけど雰囲気はいいと思います。阪急戦からの景色のほうがきれいと思います。烏丸駅に降りました。そこから、北方に行ったので六角堂を見たかった。六角堂の面白いことがあります。六角堂で生け花が始まりました。京都の地理上の中心です。形状は六角です。それから名前は六角堂です。

As with my time in Kamigori, cherry blossom mania was in full swing, particularly evident when we were in the area of Higashiyama.   Yasaka shrine in to Maruyama park was packed with people.  This was a weekday.  Don’t people work in Kyoto?  For a while, we joined the people who were out taking innumerable photos in front of the main cherry trees in the park or sitting underneath enjoying the sun until we once again ventured on.   Our original goal was to go in and see the cherry blossoms of Kiyomizu-dera but we never actually made it inside.  We took a look at the bus loads of Chinese, Korean and Western tourists shoe-horning their way in and decided that, no, we really didn’t need to.  After all, it’s not like we hadn’t both been there in the past.  We actually had a much more enjoyable time sitting outside at a coffee shop along Sannen-zaka watching all the people go by.  Personally, I was enjoying watching all the pretty girls walk by dressed in kimono.  It’s nice to see that the kimono is enjoying a bit of a resurgence in popularity.   Not only is it an absolutely gorgeous garment but it’s so intrinsically tied to Japanese culture that it would be a shame for it to be abandoned as daily wear.

京都も桜満開がありました。円山公園にとても込んでいれました。平日に行きました。京都人は仕事がないですか。友達とも桜の木に下を座ったとソフトクリームを食べました。いい休憩でした。すぐに清水寺の方に行きました。実は清水寺を入れなかったです。たくさん中国人や韓国人やお米人のツーリストを入りました。僕たちは入らないを決めました。大丈夫です。前に僕たちは楽しんだことをしました。三年坂にある喫茶店の前一時間半ぐらい過ごした。楽しかったです。外に座ったりおいしいコーヒ飲んだりいろいろの人を見ました。たくさん綺麗な着物を着ているの女性を歩いていました。よかったですね。伝統的な着物は大好きです。綺麗だけでなく、日本文化の大切な物と思います。

Directly translated, Arashiyama mean “stormy mountain”.  This might explain the cold, windy, overcast weather we encountered.  Basically the exact opposite of what my other friend and I encountered in Higashiyama just a few days earlier.  That didn’t stop us from having a great day.  In fact, shortly after we arrived in Arashiyama we got a great surprise for lunch; one of the ryokans (traditional Japanese inn) along the river had had a large group cancel and was offering a kaiseki lunch for about 1/3 off the regular price.  The food was already there and they didn’t want it to go to waste.   Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course meal where each dish is a work of art.  It’s also generally quite expensive so we decided to jump at the opportunity to have it without paying an arm and a leg.  Just a leg.  And yes, it was worth the price.

東山に行ったの天気は良かったです。嵐山に行ったの天気は反対でした。でも、私たちはその日を楽しみにしました。着きました過ぎに晩ご飯を食べたかったのでレストランを捜しました。京都にいるので友達は湯豆腐を食べたかった。でもいい機会がありました。旅館のレストランは懐石料理の割引がありました。びっくりしました。「なぜですか」。観光団はドタキャンになりましたからです。食品はすでに買いました。勿体無いですね。そして、食べました。まだちょっと高かったけど美味しかったです。

There’s a concept in Japanese gardens of ‘borrowed landscape’ and it is very much in evidence in the main garden of Tenryu-ji.  The mountains surrounding the temple provide a stunning addition to the already impressive landscape of the garden itself.  Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO site so it’s well worth a visit, just be sure you leave through the back and take a wander through the bamboo forest.  It’s very relaxing to wander through during the day and listen to the soft creaking and clacking of the bamboo in the wind but imagine what it would be like wandering through in the dark.  That’s the stuff of kaidan (ghost stories).

昼ご飯後、嵐山に散歩しました。天竜寺に行きました。八年ぶり行きました。もちろん、建物は面白いですけど大きい庭もきれいです。この庭の借景は面白いです。嵐山に行ければ天竜寺に行ったほうがいいと思います。天竜寺後ろにも面白い所です。竹の森があります。風邪と竹の物音は好きです。でも夕方でその物音は幽霊の声ようにでしょう。

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