KYOTO & KAMAKURA - Japan: Part 2
While Tokyo is futuristic with an extremely fast-paced lifestyle and futuristic vive, Kamakura and Kyoto (the ancient capital of Japan) are tranquil towns, relatively undisturbed by modernity. These lands were once home to the Samurai and are still the home of the Geisha (known as Geiko in Kyoto). Though the Samurai warrior tradition is fast becoming extinct, you can still find many temples in Kyoto built by, and in honor of, the Samurai warriors.
We had no plans of going to Kamakura. In fact, we hadn’t even heard of it until our friend Hiroka (who we stayed with) strongly advised us to visit the town which is famous for the monumental statue of Buddha. It was originally a bronze statue when it was first created; but the Buddha has battled many storms and even a tsunami in 1948, which is why it has a green-blue tint as it’s been oxidized - a quick science and history lesson there. Two for the price of one, and once can’t go wrong with that.
The landscape of Kyoto is vast with open spaces, waterfalls, greenery and temples and so picturesque. It’s a very hilly area and you have to climb a lot of steep slopes to reach the top of the temples and enjoy the views below. The sound of gongs could be heard as dusk set over the hills and trees. They say one of the things to do in Japan is watch the sun set which we did and as we decided to enjoy and savour the moment, there aren’t any photos we can share because sometimes, your mind can hold an image in such a way that a camera could never capture.
Before we visited Kyoto, Hiroka’s parents told us of their desire to retire here and after spending a few hours there, it was easy to see why. It is a very expensive place though. The food and the transport were extremely extortionate ,so if you plan on spending a few hours here, make a packed lunch.
A note about Geisha's: We would have loved to have shown you pictures of Geisha’s but they don’t let you take pictures of them. It is well known in Japan that you are considered to have good fortune if you see a Geisha, because they don’t walk around in public. If you do catch a glimpse, they scurry off before you can take a picture. Luck must have been on our side as we saw three in one day.
The distance between Kyoto and Tokyo is six hours so if you’re planning to visit Kyoto, you need to stay in a hotel. Hiroka’s dad was so kind to put us up in one of Kyoto’s best 5* hotels and he also paid for us to ride the Bullet train back home (a single one way ticket being equivalent to £300). There is no end to the hospitality of the Japanese people. To give you an idea just how fast this train is, our journey from Tokyo to Kyoto was six hours by an overnight coach. We got back to Tokyo in two hours on the Bullet train.
Our trip was only seven days, and that is just not enough time to see this fascinating country. We are planning to go at some point in the near future to climb Mount Fuji (which was closed when we visited, as it wasn’t the climbing season) and also to see the cherry blossoms.