After visiting Tokyo we spent several days in Kyoto which the "real" Japan. It is their cultural center and it was the one major city that was spared bombing in WWII. It was everything we were expecting and more. The timing for fall colors was perfect. Our only problems were lack of time and crowds. But we were able to see most of the places we wanted to (and even found some more US food spots too). So here are some of the highlight pictures and details:
This first picture is of Fushimi Inari Temple. These gates have appeared in many movies about/in Japan. We've both always wanted to see them in person so it was our first stop. They were more orange than we thought they would be, usually they are more red in the movies. But it was still very neat to see except for the advertisements of who sponsored each one written on them.
These two pictures are at the famous Golden Temple called Kinkakuji. There is a suprisingly little amount of security there, but it made it more enjoyable. We were impressed by how big the temple really is and again the color of nature was perfect then. Although there were many people there, it wasn't as crowded as other places so we could enjoy it a little more.
These are from an old fortress in Kyoto. The walls, moats and some of the buildings still remain. The buildings were designed for security as the leaders of the country used to meet there. The floors all creak intentionally so its impossible to sneak around on them and there are hidden rooms and hallways.
The area is filled with gardens and groves of different types of trees. Trees that blossom in different seasons were brought in so that no matter what time of year you stroll around something is blossoming. It was very peaceful there, which is odd since it was designed for war.
Our last night in Kyoto we just went out walking around and came across a temple that was lit up for the weekend. There were a ridiculous amount of people and none of the photos turned out very well, but these were two of the better ones. It turned out that this was the temple of the family we stayed with while in Kyoto so they thought it was fun that we got to see it in such a unique manner. After that temple we went looking for geisha in the famous district where they can most often be seen. But the area was more crowded with people that anything I've seen in Japan before so I think all the geisha stayed inside and out of sight for the evening. So we to settle on dressing ourselves up at our hosts house.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
This past week we went and spent two days in Tokyo. Our main reasons for going there were friends, food, temple. We took the shinkansen train which took about 4 hours to Tokyo. We ate out at several American restaraunts including Kua aina burger and Cold stone, which Crystal loved. We met up with several of my mission friends that I enjoyed a lot. Together we went to where the imperial family lives and that is where these photos were taken. Also we went and did our first temple session since coming to Japan. It was very nice to go after so long we the Tokyo temple is very nice, I was worried it would be loud inside b/c its in the middle of the city, but everything went well.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Ikebana is a type of Japanese flower arrangement. The idea is not to just make the flowers look pretty, but the person arranging the flowers is supposed to give each one a meaning and arrange them in personally meaningful way, while still creating a pleasing arrangement. Ikebana actually means "living flowers" and the living not only means that the flowers are alive, but that they tell a story of the person's life who created it. Patrick was able to do this one at one of his work retreats last week. The pink flowers represent us. There are two blooming flowers and one that is hard to see that hasn't quite blossomed yet. The ones that have bloomed are him and I and the one that still has yet to bloom is our baby. The orchids represent our family. They are pointed away from us becuase we are far away from family right now, but they are still close to us in our hearts. The leaves represent new friends we are making here, and are spread out in front of us to symbolize moving forward. The long willow sticking straight up is God, always watching over us, and the baby's breath above and all around represents our blessings. When he brought it home and explained the meanings of all the flowers to me I of course started crying. It is so sweet and such a beautiful way to express our lives right now. Unfortunately, the flowers won't last forever, but the things that the flowers represent will last much longer. Patrick is so sweet. He really can be sentimental when he wants to be:)
This is our little one at 17 weeks. I think it's so neat to see the bone sructure in his little arm. We went again to the doctor (I'm 19 weeks right now), but we didn't get a photo this time. We're thinking of switching doctors too, so we're not sure we'll get as many photos from now on. We still don't know the baby's sex, so we are holding off on the shopping a little bit longer. But everything still seems to be going well.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
This is our most recent outing. It is a very pretty hike through the mountains along a small river with many streams running into it. We picked almost the perfect time to go because the colors were so nice. However most Japanese now think we will have an overenergetic baby because crystal did a 40 min forest walk while pregnant. The first picture is just at the trail head. There was no one else there and apparently there are a lot of bears around here so we were always afraid we'd run into one. When we got in the car to leave and started driving out the dirt road, 2 Japanese girls in their 20s saw the our car coming around a corner and screamed and ran away. We talked to them and they said they were scared of bears too and thought we were a bear when they first saw it. So it was pretty fun for us. The second picture actually at the waterfall. Unfortunately we positioned ourselves wrong and blocked the waterfall. But its not that great of a waterfall and we thought it was a good picture of us so we'll put it up anyway.
Friday, November 03, 2006
One of the hardest parts of being away from home is missing out on the holidays that we love so much. We did our best to do Halloween and our neighbors were really supporitive and helpful, in fact they got this pumpkin for us. its hard to see b/c of the dark, but its a pretty big one. The rind/skin was a lot thicker than US pumpkins but a lot less guts inside so we cleaned in just a few minutes. We decided to go with a traditional face and this is what came out (the horns and knife in the picture are just a coincidence).
Some of the neighborhood kids stopped by for trick or treating. we had a ghost set in up the garage that would swing out at them when they came inside. This is a photo of that moment. It was pretty fun and they were all mad about it so it worked out perfect. The last photo is the main group of kids that came. I have no idea what most of them were supposed to be. The whole thing was odd though b/c they waited outside our house and kept asking if it was time yet. But I think most people enjoyed it overall and I heard people around town telling their friends so I guess they enjoyed it.
Obviously not a Hawaiian sunset, but not too bad. This is about 5 min from where we live, where they had the Salmon Festival mentioned a few blogs ago. For seem reason we seem to pass this spot often close to sunset so we thought we should get a picture of it atleast once.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Ginzan is the name of a an old area where they use to do silver mining. Its kind of Like Virginia City in that its now a neat little tourist spot with good food and fun shops. One big differene, as you can tell from the photo, is how pretty it is there especially in fall. We went on about an hour hike up through mountians and into one mine shaft. This picture of the waterfall is actually taken down at the base of the trail, but it seemed like a very Japanesey photo to us.
This photo is in the actual little town itself. Japan is famous for its onesens (hot springs), but this town has little one that is the middle of it you can put your feet into after walking around. It was super hot so we ended up a the little kid one that was a little cooler. You can see all the steam in the area from the heat. It felt very good though. The onsen water feels slippery because of all the minerals in it and different areas in Japan have different minerals so they encourage you to try them all.
This is Sake as in salmon, not as in the alcohol. At the Sake Festival people (mostly kids) pay for the opportunity to catch a fish. They fill up a fish pond and dump a bunch of salmon in it, and then those who have paid get in the pond and try to catch a fish... with their bare hands. It was quite funny to witness. A lot of kids fell into the water a few times and were soaked. Most people, even the kids, caught one on their own but those who couldn't were helped out with nets. It was so funny to watch some of the kids try to catch a fish that was nearly as big as they were. But it was even better to see their happy faces when they actually caught one. They also had food booths and traditional music and dances between the fish catching. This dragon guy came out during one of the performances. Apparently, if he bites your head it's good luck. But when he came at me with his jaws snapping I didn't know that, so I just backed away and snapped the photo. But other people were excited about it and freely gave their heads to be bitten. It was pretty interesting.