Anh Nguyen
March 19, 2014

I finally had the time to travel to the number 1 on my must-go list in Japan: Kyoto! I walked and ate a lot and managed to visit 5 temples in total. It was a busy weekend (I had to do my homework on the bus ride from one temple to another) but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would love to visit Kyoto again when cherry blossoms are in full bloom!

Since it was my first visit, I decided to visit the more well-known parts of the city: Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), Ryoanji (a temple famous for its Zen rock garden), Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion, which was not actually covered in silver), Nanzenji and Kiyomizu temple. I liked Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, and Ginkakuji the most – Kinkakuji for the gold-leaf-covered pavilion itself, and the latter two for their gardens. Kinkakuji was very popular: there were tourists waiting in front of the gates even before opening time. It was pretty amusing to watch the people, too: the temple guide showed us all where to go, and as soon as the Golden Pavilion was in sight, cameras, iPhones, iPads, and picture-taking devices of all kinds (including my own) were clicking and flashing. The Zen rock garden at Ryoanji was more calming – I think it was its combination of being aesthetically pleasing and, at the same time, strange (for me, at least, or for people who are not used to seeing “gardens” without any plants at all). Despite having seen the garden in photos before, I still stared at it for a good 2 or 3 seconds at first, the chatter in my mind fading away. People were sitting on the steps and looking out into the garden, probably enjoying their peace, too.

Foodwise, I was determined to try matcha (green tea) flavored foods in Kyoto, and was satisfied with the matcha parfait I had in Gion and the matcha choux cream I bought near Ginkakuji. I saw students (probably around middle school, as they were wearing their uniforms), not just tourists in the choux cream place near Ginkakuji, so I figured the food must be pretty good, and it was! My hostel was conveniently close to Kyoto’s Nishiki market, too, so I was able to stroll around and look at the stalls often. I had a pleasant surprise walking past the market on Saturday night expecting everything to be closed, only to be faced with brightly-lit stores, and people carrying trays of sake and food and enjoying themselves! It was a kind of sake festival – you buy a certain number of tickets, and are given a paper tray for your food and drink. You then go around all of the open stalls to get sake and food using the tickets. I did not buy any tickets, having spent too much on that day, but I walked around for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere – everyone looked happy (they did have sake…) and was eating and chatting away. It was a lovely end note to the last night of my trip to Kyoto!


Anh Nguyen

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Anh hailed from Hanoi, Vietnam and is currently a sophomore at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She plans to major in Computer Science, but decided to take a non-CompSci semester abroad before coming back to it in her junior year (after all, when else will she get the chance?). In her free time she enjoys reading, exploring new places and new types of food, people-watching, as well as reading food blogs, planning to make every single dish that catches her eye, and then completely forgetting about them. She is as excited to blog about her journey as she is about her Spring semester in Nagoya!</span></div>

2014 Spring
Home University:
Haverford College
Computer Science
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