23 December 2013

Kyoto day 2

Sunday 17th November

After a good night's sleep and an amazing Japanese buffet breakfast, I headed out and had my first experience of catching a Japanese bus. It was extremely crowded when I first got on, but as people got off everyone shuffled forward. I watched what the others did, and had my correct money ready to drop in the machine when I got off.

Heian Shrine was stunning from the first moment I saw it. I could see straight away there were lots of children there, dressed in their kimonos, celebrating the Shichi-Go-San festival. People were really friendly, and one lady, who only spoke about two words of English, managed to communicate to me that the garden was something I shouldn't miss, and she was right. The further round the garden I got, the more beautiful it became. I got an old Japanese couple to take my photo at the stepping stones (which were in one of my favourite films, Lost in Translation). I was walking about in a t-shirt, and it was funny to see that the Japanese people all had their coats on!

I continued to the Miyako Messe Exhibition Hall, where the Museum of Traditional Crafts is. It was a really interesting museum, and it had a great water feature outside, which made it feel like you were sitting behind a wall of water when you were inside. The shop was great, and I bought lots of my souvenirs and presents there. Then it was time for a maiko doing a dance performance inside the museum. It was the closest I'd been to a maiko dancing, and her hands and eyes were so expressive.

I went back to the hotel and had a short nap, then met one of my Japanese friends, Kaori. The place we'd planned to eat was not open, so we wandered for a while until we found another place. The meal came as lots of individual courses, and it was great to be able to try lots of different Japanese foods (and drinks!).

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