The last trip outside of Nagoya with the IES Abroad gang was to Kyoto (京都). I don’t usually have big expectations for places I want to visit, but for some reason, I was pretty excited for this trip. After a four hour bus ride, we arrived in 京都, but it didn’t feel like we were in 京都. I think this feeling was the first realization that this trip was not going to be all that I thought it would be.
The first place we went to was Kiyomizudera (清水寺). The bus parked in a bus lot away from the temple, then we made our way up through narrow streets filled with tourists and souvenir shops. There were many young women who had rented kimonos to wear while sightseeing, which I thought was a nice way to experience 京都. When we got to the temple, there was a lot of construction going on, so I was not able to take many nice pictures. Truthfully, I was pretty disappointed.
Next, we went to Fushimi Inari-taisha(伏見稲荷大社). Have you seen the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, where Chiyo is running through the red torii (鳥居)? This temple has thousands of red 鳥居 that lead to the shrine and it was an amazing experience to walk through them. We only walked partially into the shrine since the entire thing circles a mountain and takes about 2 hours to walk around. The only negative thing that it was pretty crowded, which took away from how amazing the place really is.
That night we stayed at a ryokan (旅館) and got to talk with geiko (芸子) and maiko (舞妓). It was a rather fun experience. They were really nice and even performed some songs and dances, as well as taught us a game. The next day it was raining and really cold. We went to Kinkakuji (金閣寺). Although the weather wasn’t very good, the temple was still incredibly beautiful. Afterwards, we went to Arashiyama (嵐山). There, we took a rickshaw ride through surrounding area, including a large bamboo grove.
Overall, the trip was nice, but I was not as impressed as I hoped to be. There were so many people in 京都 that it was often very noisy and uncomfortably crowded. Since it is now fall, the changing of the leaves or 紅葉 are very beautiful in 京都, which brings a lot of tourists. We also had English speaking guides the entire two days we were there, which I think kind of restricted my ability to explore the temples myself. I definitely want to back to 京都 next semester to see different places and get a different feel for 京都 as a whole.
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<p>Hi, my name is Ashley Bell and I am a Junior Political Science major at Santa Clara University. I'll be spending my spring semester in Nagoya, Japan and am very excited to share my experiences with you. I hope you enjoy seeing Japan through my eyes!</p>