Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 16 : Hanami once again and the most modern side of Kyoto

Despite my sickness, I really wanted to see the Hanami on that day : The cherry tree were finally in full bloom, and the weather was more than perfect. However, I still had no bike to move freely in the city.

Luckily, a Korean student accepted to lend me her bike for that day ! Thanks to that, I've been able to join Tobi, Jo and Aki (a Japanese student) to go outside and visit some beautiful places full of sakura trees and flowing pink and white petals.

First, we went to the Kamigamo Shrine, very close to the KSU. It's one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and also one of the 17 Kyoto monuments that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Japanese pose !

One of the main buildings of the Kamigamo shrine
Before entering the place, we had to wash our hands with pure water to purify our souls before entering this place. It was a really beautiful place !

Since at that time, we wanted to visit Kinkakuji, the golden pavillion, we had to take our bikes once again and ride along the Kamogawa river, at the North of Kyoto. It was also a really good occasion to watch the sakura trees...

On the way, we met other students from the I House who were also enjoying that day's nice weather... and it was probably not that a good thing ! When we asked them where they were going, I've been able to live the longest change of plans in my life ! I have always thought that I was really long to make up my mind and to make choices, but that was before seeing Japanese people organising things !

After 30 minutes, we finally decided to split the groups and go somewhere else with Aki, Jo and Tobi : The gardens and the park of the imperial palace of Kyoto. Before arriving there, we picked a bento from a bento shop to have something to eat.

There, as expected, we didn't have to right to enter the actual buildings of the Imperial Palace of Kyoto. Instead, we left our bikes and visited the gardens and the huge park around it.

There, it was also a really nice occasion to view and take some pictures of the sakura and other trees in bloom. After that, we decided to visit the Nijô castle, located a couple of minutes far from where we were at the moment. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to enter before the night session of the visits. Instead of just going back to the I House, we continued riding our bikes until finding something interesting to do, just by exploring the city.

There are some really nice places in this city !

In this part of the city, it looked more like Osaka than the more traditional Kyoto I'was used to seeing !

As we got closer to the city center, we could see bigger buildings and more modern structures. We finally arrived in Shijo street, the main commercial street and business district of the city... and I just felt as I was in France ! Dior, Mont Blanc, Chanel and many other French fashion and apparel brands were there, along with Japanese banks, telecom operators, fashion brands or other great companies.

There was very little space to walk without bumping in somebody, but this street was really long !

Unfortunately, I did not bring enough money to go shopping this time, but I'll definately go back there more than once ! After we finished visiting and waiting for Jo to buy some clothes, we entered a weird building which was actually a whole shopping mall... for luxury food ! This is how we've been able to find THAT :

A Paul Bocuse stand selling Paul Bocuse bento boxes ! Haha
Because French sounds stylish, Japanese people use it... maybe too much. Haha

Then, because it was close to the place we were, we went to the Nishiki market, a street full of traditional restaurants and of other typical food products shop. There, we stopped at a random place to eat something. The weird thing we ate ended up being... Octopus. It wasn't that bad, but the feeling of eating that viscous little thing was a bit disgusting !

And to finish, the last place we went to before returning home was another city mall, directly connected with the street we were in before. This time, the shops were a littlebit more underground and special, with game centers, underground clothing shops, but also places for tourists, bars...

Sorry for those ugly pictures, but here you can see how it looked like !

To summarize, on that day, I've been able to see both faces of the city of Kyoto : the traditional side and the modern side. I'll always remember it ! It was so shocking (in a good way) to see all those different portraits of Kyoto scrolling before my eyes in so little time !

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