Day 5 (December 25th, 2014)

After break­fast we walked aroud to explore Kyō­to. Our des­ti­na­tion was the cas­tle, which was closed yes­ter­day. The con­trast between tra­di­tion and moder­ni­ty is also inter­est­ing here: Beside rows of hous­es with sky­scrap­ers there are small­er alleys with 2-storey wood­en hous­es and also small gar­dens with shrines.

What at first seems strange in such a high-tech nation like Japan is the exten­sive instal­la­tion of pow­er and tele­phone lines over­head, some­thing that is oth­er­wise more famil­iar in less devel­oped coun­tries. How­ev­er, this is due to the country’s loca­tion in a very active earth­quake region. Cables laid in the ground would not sur­vive a stronger earthquake.

The impe­r­i­al palace “Nijo-jo” is very impres­sive and again locat­ed in an artis­ti­cal­ly designed gar­den. The trees are all very accu­rate­ly pruned, every­thing is very well cared for, the grav­el is raked, there is no leaf any­where on the ground. All over the gar­den you can see gar­den­ers at work. This is in com­plete con­trast to our home gar­den, which is more, shall we say, nat­ur­al.

Com­pared to the elab­o­rate­ly designed gar­den and the exte­ri­or cladding, how­ev­er, the inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion of palaces in Japan is rather sparse. This very well explains the fact that the Japan­ese tourists are so fas­ci­nat­ed by the Euro­pean castles.

Many young women walk in kimonos through the alleys of Kyō­to. Our daugh­ters also want­ed to try a kimono on here. This is avail­able in sev­er­al shops in Kyō­to. In the shops you are wrapped in a kimono, you can wear it for a few hours and walk around in the his­tor­i­cal cen­tre of Kyō­to. It takes a long time to put this gar­ment on, you are tied up in sev­er­al lay­ers, you can hard­ly breathe and can only move around trip­ping. But it looks so nice…

Blond Geisha

After­wards we went for a walk through Kyō­to with the two blond geishas. The Japan­ese were very enthu­si­as­tic about the two of them. A group of young Japan­ese girls asked if they could do a self­ie with them. Below are some more impres­sions from Kyōto: