May 19, 2010

My Trip to Kyoto during Golden Week

river in Kyoto
The beautiful scenery in Kyoto, if you notice there are 2 large eagles flying around as well.

During my golden week I had a few things lined up like going to Fuji Q Funland but changed my mind in the end to go to Kyoto for the 106 Kyoto Takai which is a Kendo Demonstration held every year and it was a great privilege to see all these great kendokas in one place.

Gifu Station
Gifu station looked pretty empty too so it must have meant a lot of people were out travelling as well.

During the 1.5hr train ride to Kyoto my friend William informs me that Kyoto is one of the cities the Japanese want to preserve so you will not see any sky scrapers and there are a lot of nice temples and shrines to visit. The main reason behind this was that during the war Kyoto was one of the cities that was bombed the least therefore the Japanese want to preserve the architecture of the city.

Kyoto Train Station
Then when we got to the station I was a bit surprised that it looked like this, a very modern looking station for a city that's meant to be preserved.

Kyoto Tower Hotel
Then right across the road is Kyoto Tower Hotel, the tallest building in all of Kyoto. As we were walking out of the station I saw a kid approaching a tree, in the middle of a very busy bus stop mind you, pull down his pants then he started urinating on the tree. It was the strangest thing I saw that day too, public urination was something I never thought I'd see in Japan yet I saw it in broad daylight at a busy bus stop.

We were running a bit late due to my alarm clock not going off, and apparently one of the trains we jumped on took a lot longer than expected. So after we got to the station we headed to Mc Donalds for a quick and cheap lunch then it was off to see the exhibition.

We were going to walk but after about 10 minutes we opted to take a bus instead and as we were checking what time it came the bus happened to pull up right in front of us. We got on then the bus kept on going and it was really busy and crowded because of golden week I think, then we realised that it would be faster to walk so we got off and started walking.

A good 30 minutes after we knew we were getting closer since we saw more and more people walking around with kendo gear, then we walked past some kendo shops, turned the corner and we made it.

katana stall
As we walked through the main gates we could already here the fumikomi and kiai coming from the dojo but we just couldn't look past the many stalls they had set up outside.

katanas for sale
Not only were they selling Kendo Bogu and other gear but also katanas like this one here. I was tempted but nothing was cheap and I didn't anticipate all these stands being here so I did not have enough money with me to bring home a katana.

106 Kyoto Takai
After a quick browse we entered the dojo to get a view of some of the action.

shiai 1
My view wasn't the best for photos since it was really crowded and people's heads kept popping up in the frame and I didn't want to spend my whole time behind the camera so I ended up just watching in awe at the kendo on display by the senseis.

shiai 3

shiai 2

After watching a bit more we went back out to browse the shops, I ended up spending quite a bit of money, some special tenegui's, a very nice shinai bag, a green tsuba for myself and the rest are omeyage for friends back home.

I also managed to watch a bit of a practice session for Kyudo, which is traditional Japanese archery.

When the exhibition finished we met up with one of William's friends for dinner but that deserves a story of it's own.

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