After three wonderful days in Tokyo, we packed up our bags to head out of the city!We took a bullet train from Tokyo Station to Kyoto. Since the train travels so FAST, it only took 2 hours. I wish we had bullet trains in the US. What’s the hold up, America?
While we were waiting for our train to arrive, I explored the small convenience stores they have on the platform. I think it’s so cool that they have these mini restaurants and stores right there – in the middle of the platform – as the trains go by. I felt like such a weirdo staring at all of these things in amazement. And pulling out my phone to take pictures of things like this “Hot” section in the convenience store. It’s like our fridge/freezer shelves that we use to keep drinks cold. Only it’s to keep the drinks hot.
It makes me wonder if people come to America and go into a 7-11 and take pictures of our hot dogs because that’s probably so alien to them. I love traveling. Even if it makes me look like an idiot. I just love seeing all the cultural and social differences between countries.
Once we reached Kyoto, we got back on a bus that took us to a machiya townhouse where we were able to experience a traditional tea ceremony.
The host explained that, in earlier years, townhomes were used for both homes and shops/businesses. She explained that people tried to make the width of the house as narrow as possible because tax was levied according to the width of the front entrance.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony, or “Sado,” which means the “Way of Tea,” is a cultural activity that’s almost like a performance or a dance. The host explained every step she took as she was preparing the tea. She was so graceful as she followed each procedure.
They use matcha – a powdered green tea which I’m not particularly fond of. But I’m still so happy to have experienced it and understand a little bit more of the origin and significance of the ceremony.
After we left Kyoto, we drove to Nara (the capital of Japan until 1300 years ago!). We checked into a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) for the night. When we got there, they made us take off our shoes at the entrance.
The ryokan was on top of a hill so the views from the “lobby” and our individual rooms were absolutely gorgeous.
They also had these feet warmer stones that I need to invest in ASAP. You can adjust the temperature on the side. Why don’t I have one of these at my house?
Once we had settled in, the hosts brought us some more matcha green tea.
After about an hour, we were all itching to walk or do something while it was still light out. We decided to venture outside, but, since the ryokan was on a hill and removed from everything, there wasn’t much to see. And there weren’t any walking trails up in that area. So, we just invaded some deer territory.
The cherry blossoms are EVERYWHERE. I can’t believe how quickly they come and go. They’ve already reached their peak and are slowly falling from the trees.
When we got back from our walk, our table in the common area of our room was fully set up for dinner. We each had a plate of meat and veggies and individual burners to cook them on.
I’m not particularly fond of Japanese cuisine [if you haven’t gathered yet], but I love the presentation of it all and the care they take in making food for others.
Over the past few days, I’ve fallen more and more in love with this beautiful country. People have been so considerate and kind. The sights we’ve seen are absolutely breathtaking. And I am getting to experience it with my favorite people.
The host of our tea ceremony shared this idiom with us: “ichigo ichie.” Meaning: “one opportunity, one encounter.” This was in reference to the tea ceremonies, however, I feel like this can be translated in our day-to-day lives. Every second we experience is an encounter we will never have again. So I am grateful for this opportunity, for every encounter I’ve had, and for every memory I am making.
Questions of the Day:
- Do you prefer green tea or black tea?
- Many meetings in life are not repeated. What meeting or encounter are you thankful you’ve had?