Well, as with all things in life, we’ve been thrown curve ball meaning there will be massive changes to our trip. As you can see, we are still in Japan and not heading back through China to Vietnam and beyond as planned due to personal reasons… (btw, anyone interested in £200 worth of malarial medication?!) Although Japan is killing our budget, it does mean we get to see the World Famous Sakura -Cherry Blossom- at its peak until we move on.
We are in Kyoto, and our ryokan hostel is ideally located to wander the streets looking at shrines, temples and of course, the blossoms. The place is packed with tourists, mostly from other parts of Japan and the US, and every tree has dozens of people standing taking photos and selfies. However, as we are doing the same, we can’t really complain!
There seems to be a big trend for dressing in Kimonos, so there are large numbers of people dressed traditionally, both men and women. The outfits can be hired for the day, and about 50% of the people around town seem to be dressed like this, wearing stylish kimonos, obis and traditional shoes with tabi socks. It has been lovely to see the variety of colours. Following them, it seems those wearing traditional Japanese wooden shoes or sandals walk at the same speed as me and Seamus! No wonder the rickshaw men are so busy!
We’ve been fortunate to see outdoor wedding ceremonies and bridal couples having photos taken under the blossom and in quiet back streets. The brides wearing both traditional Japanese dress or big white western wedding dresses, all looking gorgeous, although Aoife commented that on looked a bit like a squid in her headdress.
The area where we are staying, the Gion District, also has some real-life Geishas/Geiko and they can be seen walking in the street in full classical make up. We’ve tried to be respectful and not pester them, although some of the others tourists seem a big more brash and have stopped them going about their day.
Kyoto is beautiful and there is lots to see. Many gorgeous temples and shrines. It has been nice to wander the area and by the river (despite the crowds) At the Memorial Gardens, we saw the Monument to the Unknown Soldier, placed money on Buddah’s footprints and were given incense at the temple.
Tonight saw us heading out for a late picnic with Alice, from Singapore, who is staying at our hostel. At the park, we were kindly greeted by Kyoto Deaf Group (who sadly are still waiting for some Deaf members!) and they shared wine and lots of sake! Thank you for a night of giggles. We were also befriended by a great dance group of young people from Kyoto and Osaka who were super with the kids and lots of fun to be around. It was a lovely evening in the park, surrounded by the lit blossom and very merry Japanese people.
Tomorrow we have to head back to Matsumoto for one night, then Tokyo for a while … what a route we are taking!