A Weekend in KyotoBy Mable Tan • Mar 13th, 2011 • Category: Travels
By now you would have heard about the tragic news in Japan. I was glued to the TV for hours watching the news with disbelieve, sadness, shock and worry. I have met so many incredible people and was treated with warmth and kindness. Thank goodness for Facebook and Twitter, I’d manage to get hold of friends in Tokyo,where all the phone lines were down. If you have friends and loved ones in Japan, I do hope they are all safe and well.
This is my tribute to Japan – to its beautiful, fantastic people, amazing food, glorious sights.
All that anyone told you about Kyoto is true (the good, that is). It’s the cultural bit of Japan, much like how Melbourne is to Australia. As soon as we got to Kyoto, we headed to our ryokan in Fushimi-ku by train (approx. 10 mins). Our hostess at Karatachi Ryokan was amazing! She spoke a bit of English, German, French, Italian and we had a lovely time chatting with her in our broken Japanese. After tea, we went on our walkabout. It was time to find some geishas!
It wasn’t easy. The back streets of Gion was a labyrinth. With narrow streets and mass of tourists, we’d managed to avoid the crowd and jump into a small street where there was, lo’ and behold, a beautiful maiko, or apprentice geisha. It was like spotting a star for a briefest photo second.
Apparently, we chose a good weekend to visit. It was the weekend of Shichi-Go-San (seven-five-three), a passage of rite custom practised for three and seven-year old girls and three and five-year old boys. It’s usually held annually on November 15th or around the closest weekend. You can read more about the festival here.
The Yasaka Shrine was packed with parents with their little darlings, maikos and weddings. It was a busy, busy day in Kyoto.
Japanese weddings are such solemn, mysterious affairs practiced with much elegance and probably every ounce of self-control. Watching the events was fascinating. There were constant fussing over the bride (not unlike other weddings around the world I’d suppose) – adjusting, re-adjusting, prepping – gentle acts of smoldering. It was so beautiful to watch. (Why is it that the men never get the same attention?)
One of my favourite bloggers, She Who Eats lives most of her time in Japan. I’ve been following her blog for years now and her photography never fails to Wow me every time. Through Twitter, we’ve managed to exchange a few helloes, most of all, I’ve been able to give her some support (a-tweet-at-a-time) through this difficult time.
Chika’s raising funds for the Japan earthquake survivors, and her post will explain everything. She has made it easy by setting up a site where you can donate any amount you’re comfortable with. As a thank you gesture, she’s even giving away some sakura (cherry blossom)-flavored baking ingredients to a few winners whose made a donation.
“… And it has been about 36 hours since that deadly shake, and I’ve spent those 36 hours pretty much in front of the TV, glued to the news, barely having any sleep. I am extremely fortunate that I know all of my families are safe and well. I was, and still am in Nagano, where the damage has been minimal (though a northern part of Nagano has had its own big quakes). And over those 36 hours, things seem to have gone from bad to worse, as the full extent of damage gradually unfolded.”
-Chika from She Who Eats, March 12 2011
I’ll continue my post about Kyoto in a later post. Till then, to all who are reading this, I hope you’ll share this with your friends and family to help Chika raise funds for the earthquake survivors. Retweet this, share it on Facebook… do what you can.
I leave you with this beautiful quote by Steve Maraboli:
Much love, faith and hope to all,