Hello, everyone! How have you been? My boss, Mrs.Sakai, came back from maternity leave so I can’t see you as much as before, and I miss you, but I’m also looking forward to talking to you when we meet at the cafe!
In this blog, I will talk to you about Kansai and Kyoto, which I have mentioned previously. Kansai is actually the most popular place to travel for school and company trips. When I was a tour guide, I spent half a month in Kansai during the busy season, I have many sweet and bitter memories about the place. This time the main topic is sightseeing.
Firstly, Kyoto! Kyoto is the most famous place for sightseeing in Japan and is always crowded. Which season is the best to go? I think spring or fall are the best, but summer and winter are also good. Kyoto is in a basin, which means summer is very hot and winter is freezing cold.
When it comes to transport, there are a some different ways to get around the city. The main ways are the local bus, train, taxi and on foot or bicycle. The most common way with is the local bus, but I don’t recommend it because it’s always crowded in the bus, and the routes are complicated, so it’s very inconvenient. The way I recommend is taxi or train. If you have many friends you can choose a one-day chartered taxi. The reason I recommend this is because it’s easier to catch taxies and not so expensive. The train runs many times everyday, so you might want to buy the one day train/bus ticket combination.
Speaking of sightseeing the best place to go sightseeing in Kyoto is Kiyomizu temple, because there are many different structures and landscapes to see. Ryoma Sakamoto’s grave is also located near Kiyomizu temple and I will talk later about more reasons to visit.
The second most famous place in Kyoto is Fushimi-inari shrine, this place is also very popular as Kiyomizu temple. There are many torii gates which lead into hills. The path which leads to the temples has a gentle incline at first, but it gets steeper after a while, by the end It feels like we climbed a small mountain. There are many Oinari stands around there that are also popular.
In Kyoto the Maikos are very famous. They usually appear around Gion and Ponto-cho, but it’s difficult to find them because they are busy training and working. If you find them, you are very lucky. I actually got the chance to talk to them before and I heard a lot of interesting stories. Do you know why they paint their faces white? During those times there was no electricity, so they used candles for light. The candle light made their makeup look even more beautiful.
How do they become Maiko? Actually, they need to be very determined and begin at a young age. They generally have to start training just after graduating junior high school.
Firstly, they go to Okiya (kind of agency company) with their parents to get an interview. When they pass it, they can start to become Maiko. Their training is very strict! They have to learn traditional Japanese dancing, Kyoto dialects, proper manners and playing instruments, like a Koto. They are not allowed to have their own cellphones, when they need it for work, cellphones are handed out to them. They also basically can’t go to fast food shops and they are not allowed to meet with anyone outside for work. Many girls around 15 years old can’t handle it, so many girls give up on becoming Maiko.
How about Payment? Basically, they don’t get payment, they get some money as their allowance. Their living cost, Kimonos and lessons are paid for instead of getting a salary. Hair accessories and kimonos are especially expensive.
When you become a Geisha, they can get salaries but they usually have to get out of their Okiya and be independent. When I met and talked to them, they were so mature and sophisticated, I couldn’t believe they were teenagers, and I respected that they are known as a symbol of Japanese beauty.
Continuing on from sightseeing, Arashiyama is also very famous. The Katura river flows through Arasiyama where the Togetukyou bridge crosses over the river. I believe you can feel a real Japanese atmosphere there. Every season the trees on the mountain change colour so it is especially beautiful. I have to recommend the Trocco train and Suzumushi-temple. This train runs the same speed as a bicycle, because this train is for enjoying views.
Suzumushi (bell cricket) Temple is a very famous and spritual temple, not only because there are many bell crickets inside the temple, but also in order to buy a charm at Suzumushi Temple you must first listen to a sermon, which is very different compared to the other temples found around the world.
I really want to talk about more but I’m going to finish this first one volume. I am going to talk about Kyoto’s souvenirs next time!