In Japan, many things are seasonally themed. One of the things we have taken home with us are these beautiful sweets from Kyoto – all with a summer design such as the morning glory, the gold fish and the sun flower. A feast for the eyes and a fleeting reminiscence of summer in Japan.
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Kitty Japanese garden – Hello Kitty greeting the customers
Kyoto is not all austere temples and shrines of historic importance. Japan’s pop-culture is part and parcel of it all. One of its outgrowths are character cafes
. In Kyoto’s old town, there is a traditionally styled tea house, with a small Japanese garden to look at, and macha on the menu. The only difference to its many cousins is that it’s a Hello Kitty Cafe, where everything is Kitty-themed down to the smallest detail. And if you’re feeling lonely, you can sit next to a life-size Hello Kitty plushie.
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Styled to the last detail
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Torii leading to Ujikami Shrine
In the spirit of exploring the region beyond Kyoto, we dedicated half a day to visiting the nearby town of Uji
, reachable in a little more than half an hour from Kyoto by local train. One could have easily spent an entire day there, but among work commitments, muggy weather and two little kids in tow, we opted to just go for the two UNESCO World Heritage sites: Ujikami Jinja
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Phoenix Hall of Byodoin
Posted in Asia, Japan, Kyoto, Sightseeing | Tagged Byodoin, matcha, Uji, Ujikami Jinja | 1 Comment »
Staying for once for longer in the Kansai region, we were able to venture beyond Kyoto in our explorations. The town of Hikone, located on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, is reachable from Kyoto in one hour by train, making it an easy day trip. Hikone Castle counts as one of the three best castles of Japan (after Himeji and Matsumoto).
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View of Hikone Castle across Genkyu-en
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While there are many places worth seeing that we have not yet visited in Kyoto, there are others we keep coming back to, like Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. This time, arriving at opening time did not work in our favor, as about 10 school classes did the same. Kinkakuji presented itself sparkling in a ray of sunlight before a backdrop of moody clouds.
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We are back in Japan! This time, we are spending most of our time in Kyoto, where a workshop is going on at the university. More updates coming soon!
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It’s the little things in Japan that make such a difference. That make you feel that people here actually think about what they are doing. I’ve already praised the Japanese attention to detail before. But every time I go back to Japan, I notice it again. It starts at Narita Airport, where there is an employee who turns the suitcases on the conveyor belt so that the handles face outward and people can grab them easily.
Another instance that really brought this home to me was buying a pudding at a convenience store. As I didn’t get a bag, I expected to awkwardly balance/grab at the spoon that came with it, trying not to drop it. But no! They used the bit of tape that marks the fact that I paid for the pudding to actually glue the spoon to the package. Such a small thing to do, and so convenient for the customer.
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