We are back from our incredible trip to Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, and although we are jet-lagged and D has a cold, we had a wonderful time!
Honestly, for me the tedium of flying such a distance is exaggerated. In my opinion, and I do realize others have their own view of the matter, if you are wise in what you take for your own entertainment, and if you can accept the fact that if you want to explore exciting locales, you have to be willing to get there, you can pass the time without wishing for a sharp knife to end it all! In my case, because of the time during which we traveled and my assigned seat, it was too dark to be able to do hand work (shades are pulled down to aid sleep and for the same reason I didn't want to use my own reading lamp while others in my row of 4 were trying to get some shut eye). So I had to rely on my Kindle for reading and/or games and the in-flight entertainment of music (limited amount of classical music, but enough for both going and coming back), and movies (a documentary and Alice in Wonderland on the way to Japan and Hidden Figures on the way home were my choices). Of course, meals kept us occupied also.
We landed in Tokyo without any issues and made the connecting flight to Osaka with time to spare. Once we got there, we were very happy to find our room delightful! Take special note of both the bed and the mural! Can you find the bird? Needless to say, we hit the bed like stones and didn't move until morning,
After our breakfast we got on our tour bus and headed to nearby Kyoto. Once there we went to the monthly market in the grounds of a shrine. This market is held only once a month on the 21st on the ground of the Toji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Temple was founded by a Chinese trained Shinto priest, Kukai, at the end of the 8th century. It has burned and been rebuilt several times (the five story pagoda, the tallest in Japan, was a magnet for lightning but now has lightning protection).
What an experience the market was! By the time we left it was very, very crowded, but as you can see from the photos, it wasn't bad when we got there. I did find remnants of antique fabrics, and D bought a bag of candied ginger (not at all gooey) that lasted almost the entire trip. The first photo features a knife maker with his knives spread out in front and beside him. They were gorgeous and very sharp looking, but we decided the TS
This is the man from whom D bought our ginger. Did I mention it was the best I ever had?
Here the vendors are making some traditional dish which we didn't try. Many stands were selling food items - some raw and some cooked on site.
A friend took a photo of me rinsing my hands using a dipper in the traditional way to purify them.
Fabrics, oh be still my heart! I didn't purchase anything here because the pieces (lengths of kimono cloth) were too long and pretty expensive. Now of course, I wish I had - I could have shared with friends. Oh well, the fabric was such fun to look at, though!
This photo show part of the shrine with stalls in front.
Lots and lots of fish were on sale. These vendors are selling fresh fish. Colorful, isn't it?
The following pictures are of the locale rather than of the vendors and their wares, but by the end of this entry, I may have come back to vendors. Here is the five-story pagoda (try to ignore the poles in front!).
A visitor dressed in traditional kimono and obi at the shrine's gate. We saw many women and some men dressed in traditional garb while in Japan - more than I expected.
This is the time of year that school starts (begins in April and goes until March with several breaks throughout the school year) in Japan, and many students were going on sight-seeing trips. All students wear uniforms which can be quite expensive.
The large shrine was open by ticket only, and we didn't have the time to do that, but there were many smaller shrines around the area.
Here is my favorite photo of D from the market visit. Not only is it a good picture of him, I love the roof lines behind him. Oh, his hand is on the railing of a bridge over the canal that you will see later on.
Isn't this a lovely little building? You will notice red fire prevention buckets by all of these wooden structures even though I tried not to get them in the photos. It just wasn't always possible!
This is a canal right beside a small shrine inside the grounds. Behind you can see another building with a great roof line.
One of my favorite photos, it's a detail from one of the roofs I admired throughout the trip.
Another view of the canal - notice the reflections.
Here is another one of the small shrines. This one I took because of the window on the side of the building and because you can get a sense of the bridge over the canal. In this photo there is a better look at the bamboo railing on the bridge (like the one in the photo of D).
After the market, we boarded our bus and took off for a new kind of sight-seeing experience. More about that tomorrow.