Japan February 2008

Japan 2008

Lunar New Year in Kyoto

I took a day off work and so, together with the three Lunar New Year holidays and a weekend, we were able to squeeze 6 days in for a trip to Japan. We flew from Busan to Nagoya, the new Central Japan Int. Airport. As our first impression of Japan, it was very fitting - clean and modern. We headed for Kyoto straight away, traveling on the faster-than-lightning train, Shinkansen. A bit like flying, just with more leg room ! Booked into our hostel, we had a quick walk around town and already here Paula had her aim with the trip fulfilled ... watching a boozed-up business man stumble out of a restaurant and into a taxi, she had a glimpse of a geisha behind the restaurant curtains. There was no getting her back to planet Earth after that !

Next day we went for a looong walk along the Lonely Planet walking trail. Good thing it was February or it would have been packed with people. Now only the sights were busy, but the trip between the sights were empty. The trail lead us to some amazing temples and shrines. The temples are a little different from the temples in Korea - mostly in their location and surroundings. Even though we had arrived in winter, the gardens were immaculate. Korea doesn't seem to have the same garden tradition. Well, I guess one should be careful to compare other cities with Kyoto. Kyoto is an old capital and was largely spared from WWII bombings, so the city is still full of temples and palaces and as such without competition. When the temples wore us out, we walked across the bridge and were at once right in the modern city centre with all its shopping options and restaurants. Paula was in Hello Kitty heaven ! Also in Kyoto city center, Japan distinguished itself from Korea. First by being extremely clean. But also by appearing a lot more relaxed, which came as a surprise to us. No pushing on the streets and I don't remember coming with any outburst towards the drivers ! What a change !

One day we went to another old capital of Japan, Nara. We were a little apprehensive about the trip, as it had started to snow in the morning, but we decided to chance it anyway. I'm glad we did, for even because it meant walking around in the snow (it kept snowing ALL day), it meant that we got to see the temples covered in snow. I have always wanted to see this, so wet and cold feet was an inconvenience I could live with ! In Nara we got to see the largest wooden structure and the largest enclosed bronze Buddha in the world. Truly amazing, as you can see from the photos.

In the evenings we used up what little energy we had left to walk around Gion - the Geisha district. Some of the streets seem little changed over the years and resemble our imagination of medieval Japan to the spot. Even across the bridge, in the "new" part of town, we could always find small cosy alleyways and spectacular restaurants. Not to mention the danish bakeries ... Mmmmm !

Kyoto ... thanks and see you later !

El año lunar asiatico fue desde el 6 de febrero asique Peder pidio solo 1 dia de vacaciones y partimos a Nagoya ,Japon. Nuestra primera impresion ( para Peder , yo ya habia estado en Fukuoka y me enamore del pais ) fue limpio , ordenado...etc. Desde Nagoya tomamos el Shinkansen y en 34 minutos estabamos en Kyoto ! Encontramos nuestro Hostal y partimos a ver la cuidad. Estabamos en el barrio de Gion que es conocido por las casas de te y las geishas. Para nuestra gran sorpresa caminamos hasta llegar a un shrine y al volver al hostal vimos una geisha ! casi caigo me desmayo de la impresion. Es increible verlas, todo su maquillaje, vestuario, como caminan con esos zapatos enormes de altos. Increible.

Al otro dia fuimos camiando por uno de los tours recomendados del lonely planet. Salimos a las 09.30 y volvimos a las 17.00....apenas hablaba, pero fue espectacular. Al otro dia anbadamos en bicicletas mirando los templos y shrines . Creo que vimos todo lo que hay que ver en Kyoto. Al dia siguiente fuimos en tren a Nara otra cuidad muy impresionante llena de templos . Estaba nevando asique le dio un toque bien especial al dia y las fotos salen super lindas.

Aqui algunas de fotos de Japon.....y demas esta decirles que es el pais de HELLO KITTY ! tenian absolutamente todo hello kitty ! increible -