hachigatsu 10 (aug)
The first five days we trained into Tokyo each day. We hit a few sights I hadn't seen before, mostly driven by his interests. We roamed the hidden streets in the residential side of the Harajuku neighborhood to find the Japanese Sword Museum. Although we came just past closing time, the guide was happy to show us around, dramatically miming the use of different types of swords. Ghibli Studios Museum at Kichijoji whimsically celebrated the anime (animation) film creations of Hayao Miyazaki. We walked the groomed paths of the Edo-Tokyo open air museum, poking around in the historic houses and artifacts, observers from another age.
The 150 year festival in Yokohama commemorated its opening as a port. We sampled the festivities, and were awed by an enormous robotic spider manned by a team of operators, each leg operating independently, that sprayed water on the crowd of spectators. After a delicious dinner in colorful Chinatown, we walked along the waterfront to find a viewing spot to see hanabi, the fireworks, getting caught up in the crushing crowd. Hanabi means fire flower, and its meaning came to life in the artistically composed paintings in the night sky, so carefully choreographed compared to our random explosions.
We journeyed west, faster than a speeding bullet, on the Shinkansen or bullet train. The highlight of two days in Kyoto, for me, was a stroll through literally hundreds of red torii, or gates, like tunnels of flame, at the Inari shrine, stone foxes standing guard.
we reached the original
capital city of Nara, the humid heat became intolerable as we walked just 15 minutes
with our packs to a lovely ryokan, or Japanese style inn. When the sun mercifully
dropped, creating long shadows, friendly deer greeted us in Nara park,
milling about looking for occasional handouts from an admiring crowd, while we
crossed the park to see the huge Buddha at Todai-ji temple. That night at a recommended
local watering hole, a Japanese man bought us sake, a few too many drinks after
having downed some small bottles of our own, and traded stories. A morning train
ride brought us further west to the towering white Himeji castle,
whose elegance has survived the centuries since 1580.
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