Monday, August 31
Nijo Castle (Shinto shrine).
Kinkakuji (aka Golden Pagoda) Buddhist Temple.
Ryoanji Temple (zen rock garden).
Strolling through the Nishiki food market in downtown Kyoto. Strange smells, strange sights, all incredibly intriguing.
Tuesday, September 1
Zazen (Zen Buddhist) meditation class with a Buddhist monk.
Our Buddhist monk zen meditation teacher preparing the matcha tea for us after our class… peaceful preparation, very bitter tea. Brad, Ryan and I enjoyed it, but Brayden and Brookie did not love it.
If you feel like you are going to fall asleep during meditation, the practicing monks ask the proctoring monk to come and slap him on the back with a bamboo stick to wake him up, so he can keep practicing…yikes. Doesn’t seem very zen!
In front of the giant Buddha at Ryozen-Kannon (compassion Buddha, named Kannon in Japanese).
Kiyomizu Temple (Buddhists from all around make a pilgrimage to this temple overlooking the river).
The love rocks (you rub one rock on one end of a small path, close your eyes and try to find your way to a rock at the end of the pathway). This belief is that you will find your way to true love…Brad and I had no problem getting from one end to the other.
Prayer boards with written messages for the temple (many were from students to pass their exams and get a great job).
Wednesday, September 2
Heading to Miyama, Japan where we stayed at a working rice farm.
Brad is a GIANT wherever he goes in Japan…he has many bumps on his head to prove it.
At Sekkei-An – working rice farm owned and run by a beautiful couple, Keisan and Setsusan. We are making mochi, which a special type of rice they grow at Sekkei-An and is pounded to get it to form together into a tasty gelatinous blend.
Dinner, games and a sweet good-bye at Sekkai-An.
Keisan brought us to his Buddhist temple after a lovely walk with him. He is saying his prayers to the Buddha and showed us a room that he said he has never taken anyone that was not a Buddhist priest into to see the family plaques and Boddhisatvas. Keisan walks to his temple to pray every morning at 6:00 am, rain or shine, or as he put it, even during a monsoon.
Fishing with Keisan, and carrying our catch home.
Cooking with Setsusan.
Mamma and Pappa on a hike above Miyama.
Study time for Brayden and Ryan Sensei.
Thursday, September 3
Jingo-ji Temple – it was really gorgeous, but the best part was the picturesque hike up the stone pathways.
Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion).
Heianjungu Shrine where we fed the koi fish and turtles.
Mmmmmmm…BEST RAMEN EVER!
Friday, September 4 – Nara
Deer Park, where you can feed the deer right from your hand…the deer are said to be messengers from the Gods. The “messengers” also bite and are quite aggressive.
Todai-ji Temple – once the largest wooden structure in the world, and now holds Japan’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (the shrine of 10,000 Torii gates).
Learning the ways of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Tofuku-ji Temple (amazing zen rock gardens – and maybe our favorite temple).
Pappa and Brooke getting Gyoza (pot stickers). Probably Brooke’s favorite restaurant on our trip, because you can yell your order and be loud and crazy…they call that a kid-friendly restaurant!
We’re on our way, via bullet train to Hakone, Japan where we will stay at a traditional ryokan (an inn with onsens or hot springs you bathe in publicly, or in our case, privately. You also wear the traditional robes called yukatas). After one night at the ryokan, we are heading to Tokyo, which we are all really looking forward to and to top off that visit, we get to have dinner with our dear friend, Bob Kavanaugh while he is there on business. Yeah, see you soon, Bob!