Traditions (Japan 2014)

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Traveling (or actually almost everything in my life) is like sex. The first time you meet someone there is a certain excitement, a newness to it all. The second time, however, that buzz is gone. You notice all the little flaws that you missed the first time round, but you also become less clumsy, more sure of yourself. The exploration becomes deeper – which could very well mean you end up disliking what you find.

Location: Kyoto

Method of arrival: Shinkansen (bullet train, 14,000 yen) from Tokyo

Cameras used: Nikkon D40 (70-300mm lens), iPhone 6

Japan, it would seem, is more than just skin-deep. It is at times surprising to see a country so modern and in the same time so traditional. Not just in terms of the architecture, the shared space between skyscrapers and shrines, but also in terms of the mentality of the people. This clash between the two elements is at times confusing and counter-intuitive: for a society bent on efficiency, it is strange for it to be socially unacceptable to eat on the street, in the metro or actually anywhere in public except restaurants.

I digress.

Kyoto is seen as a more traditional city than Tokyo – but is far from what people would imagine when traveling here. It is difficult, when you travel and are bombarded just with pictures of temples and shrines. There is silence, a desolation to the streets that Tokyo surely lacks. It’s quiet and dead, like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. There are a few temples, with wonderful architecture and pleasant gardens, with people in traditional dresses and random occasional throngs of old Japanese tourists.

Matcha (green tea) ice cream – an acquired tasted – with mochi balls and red bean paste on the side, was a pleasant incursion into the local culture. Failing to see any maiko’s, and filling most of my time with work for the ESU Japan, we did manage to visit the Golden Pavilion (400 yen entrance, 金閣寺), with it’s beautiful garden and wonderful birds as well.

Obviously, the battery to my camera died just when I wanted to take a zoomed in picture of those birds, so the iPhone was relied upon for further pictures.

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