Monday, June 13, 2011

6-11 & 6-12: 京都

This past weekend Chukyou University hosted a trip for the exchange students to go to Kyoto and visit some of the sights.

We left early Saturday morning by bus and it took about three hours to get there. We first visited a 湯豆腐 style restaurant and had several different types of tofu.

Next, we went to 三門寺, which I honestly don't know much about, besides that there is a temple building you can climb. There's also an aqueduct that I wonder when was built, as it seems much more recent than the rest of the temple area.

Next was 清水寺. The street leading up to the temple area was littered with various interesting soveigneir shops. The temple itself was sprawling, wide open, with several 鳥居 and shrines. The name of the temple comes from the water springs that run throughout the area and three flowing fountains that visitors drink from in order to gain good grades, long life, or love. There were also a few 舞妓, 芸者 in training that Kyoto is famous for.

Probably the most impressive part of the trip was 三十三間堂(さんじゅうさんげんどう), a Buddhist temple where 1,001 cypress statues of the Buddha 観音 are housed. There are also 28 attending deities, including 雷電 and 風神. Regrettably, photography was forbidden.

We stayed at Villa Hotel, probably the highest quality hotel I've ever stayed at.

On Sunday, we went to 二条城,the former castle and residence of the Shogun/Third great unifier of Japan 徳川家康. The actual building wasn't very impressive, especially after 三十三間堂, but the adjacent gardens were accompanied be some very nice scenery.

Next was the most famous temple in Japan, 金閣寺. The temple is entirely covered in gold-leaf paper and sits in the middle of a small lake.

It was a really nice trip, but it was a bit too much to properly take in during such a short time period and it would have been nice to have some more time to look around in the shops, as it was I didn't have any time to get any souvenirs or see everything. Also, everything closes really early in Japan, save for the パチンコ parlors and bars, so even though we had some free time in the heart of the city on Saturday night, we weren't able to anything.

I'm thinking about going taking another trip someplace by myself, but haven't decided when or where to go yet. I would like to go to Hiroshima and maybe see some of the exchange students from last year if possible. It would also be nice to go Osaka...どうしようかな

Monday, June 6, 2011

6-2-11 through 6-5-11: Museum, Fireworks, and Matsuri

This past Thursday (6-2-11), my 日本事情 class went to the 徳川博物館.

Yesterday, I bought some fireworks (well, sparklers) for some of the other foreign exchange students and went lit them on the nearby bridge.

Early today, there was a fairly large 祭り(I think 熱田祭り-あつまつり). It was unbelievably crowded.
I was actually surprised at just how similar it was to the State Fair, it was mainly just a long line of vendors selling foodstuffs, there was very little in the way of anything traditional beyond a group of taiko drummers by the temple and a group carrying a small cart of lanterns.

I was also given the impression that Japanese fireworks were far superior to U.S. ones, but the display at the 祭り fell far short of my expectations; rather than having a short, continuous chain of fireworks, it was more like they set them off in ten second intervals and just kept at it for a long, long time. Ultimately, a lot of us, not to mention many the other spectators, just got bored of it and went home.

If I seem a bit jaded, its probably due to standing in the middle of crowd that refused to budge for over an hour. The food was excellent, though.