Hello Kitty, Hello Kyoto (Japan!)

Surprise! While I was doing laundry one morning in Thailand, I decided to google Japan. As it turns out, it was perfect timing for Sakura Season and I always thought it would be amazing to see the cherry blossoms. So, an hour later I had a plane ticket and a plan…..well, a plane ticket at least :-).

Over the next two weeks in Bangkok I did a little more research and found if I wanted a train pass I needed to order it ahead of time and have the voucher shipped to me. So, with no time to spare, I ordered a two week pass and had it sent to my hotel. Luckily it showed up just in time! Then I looked at Kyoto hotels… yikes, quite a shock after SE Asia! It was 10x as much for a comparable room to what I had been booking! I started to freak out a bit, but then found it wasn’t so bad outside of the larger cities, so I relaxed and rolled with it. Afterall, I deserve a splurge once in awhile!

I left Bangkok on a 1:00 AM flight, stopped in Seoul for a few hours, then finally landed in Osaka. Quickly, I found the Japan Rail station, picked up my pass, and jumped on the next train to Kyoto. I was so excited, it was the Hello Kitty Train! What a purrrrfect way to start my journey through Japan! About 35 minutes later I arrived at the Kyoto Station and walked to Hotel M’s Est Naranjo as the sun was going down. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted and hungry. I found a little Japanese curry shop just over the river and had a nice seafood curry before returning to the hotel to crash!

I woke up the next day eager to see where I had landed. I ate a yogurt in the room I had picked up from 7-11, and laced up my walking shoes. The cool, fresh air felt amazing! I had a few spots marked on the map, and decided to walk along the river towards Philosophers Path, a 2 km long stone path in the northern part of the city, that follows a canal and is lined with hundreds of cherry trees. Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University, giving the path its name. Seemed like a great place to start!

When I arrived, it was quite crowded, but I noticed a sign at the end of the path pointing up the hill to Doshima Communal Burial Ground. There was no one walking this direction, and I was really enjoying the peace and quiet, so decided to start here instead.

When I arrived in the beautiful cemetery on top of the mountain, I was alone, and sat to meditate. I suddenly felt like I was surrounded by my ancestors. There was so much energy swirling around, it was almost overwhelming. For once, I had remembered to put my journal in my backpack, and wanted to write. Here is what came out, word for word….

“Calling Ancestors”

Hello dear ancestors, my loves from near and far. I’m here today to celebrate you; your past, your present, and your future. I’ve been walking my path, looking for you, calling to you. I know you are here, you always have been. Today I ask that you give me a sign, just a small glimmer of hope; of the beauty you hold. I come with my heart open to all of your lessons. Please share not only your love and joy, but also teach me from your pain and struggles, for I know this is what will build me up, enhance my character, and make me whole.

Oh dear ancestors, you walked so many triumphant steps before me. You were strong through all the difficult times. You pushed on when the road was not easy, to prove it could be done, and to pave the way for me to find you.

Oh dear ancestors, I look up to you today as you smile down upon me and guide me on my way.

After spending quite a lot of time in this special place, I felt energized and ready to take on the rest of the day. I hiked down in quiet solitude, listening to the birds and the breeze all around me.

Now the sun was shining on Philosopher’s Path, and it had a whole new beauty. I smiled as I began down strolling down the stone walkway, taking in all the love in the air. Everyone was happy and smiling, from the couples holding hands, to the girls dressed up in their special kimonos and pretty dresses, to the vendors selling food and gifts along the way. It was magical watching everything happen as the Sakura “snow” fell from the trees.

After finishing the path and trying a Japanese pancake filled with red bean paste and a crab stick along the way, I walked up hill lined with cute little shops and lots of people.

Much to my surprise, when I reached the top of the hill, I was at the entrance to Ginkaku-ji Temple, another place I had marked on my map! It’s funny, when you just go with the flow, things work themselves out!

After the temple, it was starting to cool off a bit and I decided to head back in the direction of the hotel. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon the Kyoto Photography museum and went in for a look. It was small, but a nice display of old and new work. The staff was friendly and it was so sweet when they placed the guest book in front of me, turning it sideways and handing me a pen so I could write my name.

Continuing on, I ended up at Maruyama Park and Yasaka-jinja Shrine, which I was going to visit another day. Oh well, I was here and getting a bit hungry, and there were tons of food vendors setup for the Sakura festival, so why not? I dug up a second wind and went for it!

That wraps up my first day in Kyoto! So much beauty, I will end here so not to overwhelm, but I’ll be back soon with more!

Love and beautiful blooming Sakura energy coming at you!


8 Replies to “Hello Kitty, Hello Kyoto (Japan!)”

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