Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day Two - Kyoto and the Blooming Sakura


Hiyaaaa! Continuing with my Japan travelogue, we first set out to see the Cherry blossom trees or the Sakura, which was is in full bloom at the moment. You cannot escape the Sakura in its full glory if you're here in the season! The Sakura trees line many streets and gardens across the country.  We travelled to Kyoto to see them since that's the best place right now to enjoy them. But, the moment you step out of a train station anywhere, you'll start spotting them. 
To get to Kyoto, if you have a JR pass you need to get to the closest JR station (JR Namba for us), take a train to a station on the Loop line (Shin-Imamiya for us) and get to Osaka. From Osaka, take a JR train straight to Kyoto station. (Hyperdia.com will help you plan your route. An android app is also available but an ios app isn't available for us in India :( ) Once you get to Kyoto there are buses that will ferry you to what ever place you'd like for a minimum fare of 230 Yen each. We chose to get to the Kiyomizu - Dera first. The most famous and strikingly colourful Kiyomizu - dera is one of the most popular Buddhist temples in Kyoto and a landmark of sorts. The steep climb to the temple is called the Chawan - zaka or the teapot lane and is lined with beautiful porcelain, souvenir and tea centers and cafes. You'll find lots of people dressed in traditional wear making their way upto the temple, but these aren't the locals, but enthusiastic tourists that rent these kimonos and wear them for the time they're visiting Kyoto. 








The temple can be quite crowded at this time, but coming from Bombay, we didn't find it unusual. People don't push and shove and everyone's just having a good time. The temple is a bright orange structure and is scattered with Sakura trees. It doesn't have the serenity of a Buddhist temple since people flock it in large numbers, but the temple structure is what's most eye catching. We reached there mid afternoon and were lucky to catch the Blue Dragon procession or the Seiryu - e.  The Blue Dragon which is actually green comes out to drink water at the Otowa waterfall just below the temple. It was fascinating to watch the traditional routine with the bearers of the dragon all dressed in traditional warrior finery and drum beats and a peculiar song that they sung. We missed walking through the actual temple that is said to signify entering a female bodhisattva. 


















Making our way out of the temple we walked down to Kasagiya, a very old tea shop that serves Japanese style sweets and tea. The sweets were kind of a soyabean jelly coated in peanut powder and served with both green and black tea.



Walking through  Ishibel - koji which is a beautiful street, we reached the Mayurama-Koen, a large park which is home to the giant Gion Shidare-Zakura.This magnificent tree is called the Shidare literally translates to The Weeping Sakura because of its drooping branches, This tree in the center of the Maruyama Park in Kyoto is a second generation tree that came from its parent tree that lived for 200 years. The huge park is filled with Sakura and cafes that serve the local cuisine. You can even eat under the trees on bamboo mats which is also called Hanami in Japanese meaning picnicing under the blooming Sakura. The paths around the park have tons of temporary stalls of food too where we found right from roasted fish to candied fruits to our very own tandoori chicken :) Walking around the park is lovely. By evening the paper lanterns go on and the park looks even more gorgeous.






After a hearty meal, we walked back to the bus stop making our way through the Yasaka -jinja. 

This shrine is considered the guardian of the Gion entertainment district. The Gion district was actually built to house the travellers that visited the shrine but now it is most famous in the whole of Japan for the Geisha. We reached there by late evening and decided that the Geisha tour would have to be done another day. 
The day was like living in a dream. Nothing familiar, nothing ever seen before! That's most amazing about Japan.
Tomorrow we go see the Todai-ji temple, which is the oldest wooden structure in the world. Tell you all that soon :) 
Later lovely people!
Much Luv,


Runa  

2 comments:

  1. Since mid-1999, Abdullah has visited important leaders in the region, including Jordan's old foes. Syria and Libya, lie also went to Paris, Washington and London to ensure financial support from major Western allies,Cheap Jordan Shoes, and successfully obtained US$300 million in aid from the USA. Throughout the Al-Aqsa intifada in the Palestinian Territories, Abdullah has been one of the voices of moderation within the Arab world, preferring diplomacy as a means of bringing about a peace settlement. This stance has won him much respect in international circles. He has. however, come under attack from many Palestinians and other Arabs for maintaining relations w ith Israel and being ineffectual in his attempts to bring about a solution to the conflict. Although he has proven to be adept at following in his father’s footsteps, it remains to be seen whether Abdullah's diplomatic skills are as enduring, or as ultimately effective, as Hussein's. At home, his drive to stamp out corruption has helped to maintain his popularity. Concerns remain, however; in 2002 human rights activists claimed that freedom of expression was being restricted, with all demonstrations in support of the Palestinians being strictly controlled by the government.

    per year from Lake Tiberias, disputes have arisen over whether Jordan is getting its fair share. In 1998 Jordan had to beg ingloriously for water from Syria (an old foe).

    Both Jordan and Israel have recently allocated millions of dollars to water projects. The joint Syrian-Jordanian Wihdeh Dam on the Yarmouk River is a major project being built in conjunction with Jordan’s neighbours. Another idea is the construction of a scries of desalination plants, hydroelectric power stations and canals that would link the Red Sea with the Dead Sea (see the boxed text ‘The Dead Sea’ in the Around Amman chapter for details).

    To make matters worse. Jordan has endured droughts for five consecutive years: the one in 1998/9 was the worst in 50 years,Retro Jordans, and cost an estimated US$200 million in lost and damaged agriculture and livestock. During this period there was also a fall of between 10% and 30% in the country’s cereal production. Although the winter rains in 2001-02 eased the effects of the drought,Air Jordan Shoes, water storage levels remain critically low at around 30% of capacity.

    ReplyDelete