EXPERIENCING KYOTO’S CULTURE AND PEOPLE
Posted on August 24 2016
I have been to Kyoto before but this visit was very different and special because it was one of the most culturally enhanced trips I have ever encountered. I was super lucky in experiencing first hand Kyoto’s culture and people.
I was accompanied by my aunt Yumiko along with Mrs. Sugii, my cousin’s mother-in-law. My grandmother adored Mrs. Sugii. She said Mrs. Sugii is one of the most gracious ladies she has ever met. I finally got to spend some quality time with Mrs. Sugii and indeed, this woman is full of grace.
We started off the day with Mrs. Sugii meeting us at the train station dressed in her pretty buttoned down green top and a lovely hat. She greeted us with the traditional Japanese bow. I could tell she couldn’t wait to show us what she had lined up for us that day.
To start off, we visited Teiryu-zi Zen Temple. This magnificent and tranquil setting is surrounded by beautiful lotuses and mountains. I was told I must return during the Autumn season when the mountains are covered with red Japanese maple leaves and offers one of the most beautiful sights in this area.
For lunch that day, we had a traditional vegetarian meal served to the monks that used to practise at this temple. I enjoyed this meal very much as it has a myriad of flavours and textures. The presentation was outstanding as well.
After lunch, we went for a rickshaw ride in Arashiyama and the bamboo walking area. Our rickshaw operator was very entertaining and full of vigor. He also acted as our photographer during the ride, stopping at special sites each time.
Our last stop that day was at Shigureden, a museum in Kyoto, centered on the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu. It was founded by former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Mrs. Sugii insisted that I come here after seeing me in a kimono at my cousin’s wedding. She really wanted for me to experience wearing the most well-known clothing of the Heian period, the juunihitoe, or ‘twelve layered robe’, worn by the highest-ranked ladies of the Imperial Court. It was certainly a majestic experience.
Unlike other empires, the royalties in the Heian era were highly scholastic and spent their hours writing and reciting poems in the king’s court. This era was famous for its cultural and intellectual achievements. I was glad to learn that women were encouraged to be educated as well.
We ended the day extremely fulfilled. A day later, I received a delivery from Mrs. Sugii. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I love matcha and she sent me one of her favourites along with a card thanking me for a wonderful day. Did I mention she is really gracious?
I hope to meet up with Mrs. Sugii again next time I am in Kyoto. What a lovely woman!