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Amparo Bertram

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06:37 pm: Photogenic Kyoto
Saturday I didn't feel like doing much of anything, but today I decided that I'd regret it later if I didn't go to Kyoto and look at all the cherry blossoms. My original plan was to walk the Philosopher's Path, the most famous sakura-lined walking trail in the city, but my plan changed when I got to the subway station.

For one thing, they had a sign posted indicating that today was the last day the Imperial Palace would be open to the general public this spring. (Usually, if you want to visit Kyoto's Imperial Palace, you have to make special reservations days in advance. For one week in April, however, they open it to the public.) For another thing, the subway was offering a $6 "all you can ride" pass, so I decided to buy that and travel entirely by subway rather than bothering with buses.

I arrived at the Imperial Palace at 9:30am, just a half hour after the gates opened, and there were already crowds. The positive aspect of this is that I could follow the crowd and not get lost. We had our bags "searched" before entering...it was more like "have your purse patted lightly by an Imperial Guard."

At 10am they had a performance of a traditional Heian Era game called temari, which is essentially like hacky sack played with a ball that I believe is made of string. The first part was apparently blessing or purifying the playing area and was done by two men alternately carrying the ball around in the fork of a branch (picture at left).
After all the players bow to the ball, the game gets underway. The players in this case are members of the Temari Preservation Society. They kick the ball around inside a square playing area, and they manage to get it pretty high up in the air sometimes.


After I finished viewing the Imperial Palace grounds (and taking tons of pictures), I wandered around the garden right next to it and took even more pictures. One thing that's interesting to see is that the sakura blossoms from different kinds of trees can look quite different.




Next I went to the Gion area. By this time it was nearly noon, so I stopped at the Lawson convenience store on the corner. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea. There wasn't a single lunch-type item left on the shelves. I resorted to having a lunch of pickles and yoghurt. >_< I probably should have stuck with my usual Pringles standby, but I figured with all the walking (and sweating--it was HOT) I was doing, I should probably have something with at least a touch of nutrition in it.

I went through Yasaka Shrine to Maruyama Park, which is where everyone was hanging out (with their Lawson goodies) and getting boozed up gazing at flowers. I found a spot to sit and eat my "lunch" and then proceeded on through the nearby Chionin Temple. More pictures were taken.

After leaving the temple, the road took me in the direction of the Heian Shrine. I considered turning east to try the Philosopher's Path, but I decided I was too tired. Instead, I went to the Heian Shrine to take pictures of it so my parents could see how it looks with the flowers actually blooming.







Update: The Heian Shrine has special sakura season "do not enter" signs that are painted pink with flowers on them. (Only in Japan...)


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Comments

[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:April 10th, 2005 06:48 am (UTC)
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Wow, that shot over the river is gorgeous! I'm jealous you got to go into the palace. I'd like to do that sometime. (Next year?)
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:April 10th, 2005 06:48 am (UTC)

How awesome!

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Except for the pickles and yogurt, it sounds like a wonderful day. It is sooooo beautiful. I'm glad you were able to see the Imperial Palace and the temari game. Of course the cherry blossoms are really amazingly gorgeous. It's wonderful being able to see pictures of them.

Could you tell me again how to put an entry into memories?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 10th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC)

Re: How awesome!

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Could you tell me again how to put an entry into memories?

You see the heart at the top of the page? (It's between the forward and back arrows.) Click on that.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:April 10th, 2005 03:51 pm (UTC)

Re: How awesome!

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Thanks!
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:April 10th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC)
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Pretttttty! Thank you for the pictures! Japan really knows how to do SPRING.

(Here in New England? We do mud.)

Maybe it's not a coincidence that the Japanese academic year starts off with pretty sakura flowers, while we start our academic year with crispy red leaves? Academic year, organized by prettiest season. It could be true.

P.S. Pringles are so a major food group. God knows they don't belong to the potato group.
[User Picture]
From:wednesday_10_00
Date:April 10th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
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Academic year, organized by prettiest season. It could be true.
But what do they do in Hawaii?

God knows they don't belong to the potato group.
Sacrilege!! They are TOO potatoes, else I would not love them so.

(Edit: now only sara_tanaquil knows I can't spell ahaha.)
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:April 11th, 2005 06:46 am (UTC)
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(Edit: now only sara_tanaquil knows I can't spell ahaha.)

Heh... I didn't even notice until you pointed it out. (I read too fast.)
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