Sunday, March 8, 2009

Japan 5: Kyoto

Have been in Kyoto for 4 nights now and slightly reluctant to leave. Apparently Kyoto has what I didnt think existed in Japan: legal restrictions on the height of buildings. This means its much less vertical and feels a lot more human than Tokyo, and of course we feel extremely welcome because of the incredibly friendly people at our hostel. We get served endless complimentary cups of tea and fruit salad, get free hugs when we come in or go to bed. Unfortunately this seems to make this place very popular so we arent able to stay a fifth night and are moving on to Nara tonight, where we will hopefully stay at a traditional Japanese guesthouse (Ryokan).

My favourite aspect of Kyoto is probably the abundance of local crafts, we have seen a number of very exciting (for me) fabric shops - my favourite was one selling little kits to make purses and totes and placemats and baby trousers, each one containing the necessary cute printed fabrics and embellishments and bearing the slogan "I want to make - let's make", which could well by my personal motto. I haven't found any knitting shops, but instead bought a few balls of acrylic and some nice bamboo needles from the 100 Yen shop (these are a godsend) and have made some socks and a hat for Dan, and then started producing little pink crochet flowers to make up for the lack of actual cherry blossom at this time of year (although we may still catch some - i haven't given up on it completely yet).
Of course, even more typical are the incredibly intricate brocade Kimono fabrics with their woven flower patterns that you see everywhere here. I bought a little offcut the other day, maybe I will turn it into a couple of purses when Im back. And I've been unable to resist buying a gorgeous pink Kimono and a red Obi for a bargain price yesterday, particularly because we managed to find one in my size in a random junk shop by the side of the road. Fortunately Dan has offered to take it back to England for me so I dont need to lug it around Thailand!

Kyoto is even more famous for the Geishas that still work here, and we did manage to spot a couple of them the other day, shuffling down a street in the Gion area, and of course for the enormous number of temples and shrines, a small subset of which we visited - including the very shiny golden temple Kinkakuji. The very famous Zen garden we had read a lot about was really quite disappointing, probably less impressive than the one I remember from the botanical garden in Hamburg!

Today, we're off to Nara to see an even bigger Buddha than in Kamakura. Yay!

1 comment:

smartoak said...

When will you be in Thailand? I'm going in April.