Golden Press

Day 2: Kyoto, Japan

Golden Pavilion 2011 © Jarondakie Patrick

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It seems I finally have gotten use to the time different in Japan, but still manage to go to bed earlier than all of the other reporters here. In Washington, DC  it is Saturday and night-time. But in Japan it’s 8 a.m. Today I woke up early to prepare to be a tour guide for the rest of the Roy W. Howard 2011 Group. Were going to Kyoto to visit the Golden Pavilion and Zen Rock gardens at Ryoan-ji.

Kyoto, Japan 2011 © Jarondakie Patrick

When thinking about the history of Kyoto it is amazing.

Kyoto once was the largest city in Japan and for 1,000 years was the capital city. Now it holds antique buildings and great history for the Japanese people. The population is very dense compared to other cities like Tokyo and Osaka. But its the third city to make up the metropolitan area with Osaka and Kobe. There are 11 wards in Kyoto and one of Japan’s highest ranked universities is here, Kyoto University.

At the Gold Pavilion we met several people who wanted to take pictures with Americans and students wanting to practice their English on us. It wasn’t the best, but a few members of the group gave them their email addresses to keep in touch.

At the Zen Rock Garden, Brad, our chaperone pointed out that many Japanese are fascinated with blonde hair and blue eye humans. In Japan you rarely see someone with blonde hair or blue eyes. When they do, most of the time the Japanese pull out their cameras or chat among themselves about the rare humans they see. Other times they’re laughing, not at Americans or rare creatures, but out of curiosity. (At least I hope)

All the students were dressed in uniforms. Most girls had their skirts rolled up so the hem hung high above their knees. It seemed pretty odd to see students on field trips from other Japanese cities and China because in America most kids are out of school for a 2-3 month summer. Japanese students attend school all year round except for August when they are out for the summer, which happens to be the hottest month of the year in Japan.

One thing about Kyoto that amazed everyone was the famous street that dates back. It is the home of Geisha, the women that we could not get a look at. But we tried our hardest as we walked down the entire block hoping to spot one. We even ran down one of the alleys thinking the lady exiting a car was a Geisha. I guess we run too slow because before we knew it, it was as if she vanished.

Before stalking the block of  ‘Geisha Land’ we stopped for ice cream. The waffle cone was amazing, but I could not get over the overdose of green tea products.

Green tea is a staple in Japanese culture. It is served with every meal and you can find it everywhere. I have seen green tea Kit Kat, ice cream, cake, and candy. But the taste of green tea is not of a sweet taste, which sometimes makes it unbearable to drink. The taste is tart and often taste like dirt when not sweetened.

Kyoto sparked an interest in me; much about foreign relations. Even in a large city like Kyoto with over 1 million residents the streets are clean. Where there is traffic, there is no chaos of honking horns. The people cruise on their bicycles with no hesitation of screeching brakes from a car. The drivers have so much respect for the bikers and for the people. Should I say, the taxi drivers do not take tips.

© Jarondakie Patrick

Today lunch was a disappointment. Probably because we waited so long to eat, but mainly I have already became weiry of raw foods. This had to be the most disappointing thing for me so far on the trip. I am very open-minded, but certain things I refuse to eat, no matter where I am.  

I did not enjoy looking at baby shrimps fried with everything still attached and labeled as “Cajun shrimp”. I am from Louisiana (home to Cajun food and seafood) and nothing seemed delicious about eating a shrimp with eyes and a tail, so I did not. I have tried calamari and find squid to be gummy. So I waited for a visitor to tell me what everything was before I put it on my lips. I did happen to try some fried potatoes and strange white fish (that no one knew the name of , even when they looked it up). I tip my hat off to the rest of the group that ate all of the goodies delivered to the table.

I did enjoy the restaurant.

I must not forget the Kyoto Train Station. You have seen nothing like it with its multiple stairs that lead to the top of a roof. On the roof lies amazing flowers, benches, and a view of Kyoto hidden through see-through plastic. The gigantic architecture criss-crosses above the opening of the train station leading outdoors and up to the roof.  I must say the Japanese are really into sophisticated artwork, but little color. Many of their buildings are made with glass and the colors are: black, grey, or silver.

Kyoto Train Station 2011©Jarondakie Patrick

We added Nijo Castle into our visit and Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. I think the Shimogamo Shrine was the most color I had seen, since being in Japan.

Very peaceful at the Zen Rock Gardens in Japan. If you look really hard you may notice there are 15 rocks. ©Jarondakie Patrick

Today was a long day!

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July 13, 2011 Posted by | International, JAPAN | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 1 Osaka, Japan

Sunday, June 18, 2011  11:00 p.m.

The culture of Japan has already revealed itself in small acts and large scenery.

A bow between one person and another, which indicates respect as well as greeting. Things I’ve learned in this short period of my 24 hour adventure travelling and brief exploration of the country has been priceless. Japan has main highways while the other streets are called by numbers.

 The restaurants and driver services do not take tips. Tonight 10 people ate for $90.00 in a moderate restaurant that displayed their dishes in a glass window. The dishes were made of wax and can be seen outside of all restaurants before dining. The restaurant was located underground in the Whity Mall. Japan underground malls have many levels. Some levels include dining, grocery store, shopping malls, and convenience stores. 

I should say that my day with Japanese culture began yesterday in Chicago. I watched as two businessmen exchanged cards and bowed several times after the business cards were accepted with both hands. This is something that is custom in Japanese culture. While boarding Japan Airlines I reached my passport to the airline workers with both hands. She scanned my boarding pass and returned my passport to me the same.

The 13 hour flight to Tokyo was long and exhausting. It probably would have been miserable if I was on the plane by myself, but lucky for me and the rest of the Roy W. Howard group we had other students to chat with in between movies, games, and sleep. Actually the flight was one of luxury. We watched recently released movies on mini screens installed in the back of the seats head rest in front of us and did not have to pay for them. We also were given two meals and snacks. This was the first time I received ice cream on an airplane.

As the flight went on, it seemed like the flight attendants never set down. They always had smiles and bowed as we exited the plane in Tokyo.

While staying at the Crown Plaza in Osaka. I noticed that the Japanese take pride in technology and are far more creative.

Important Words I learned today:

“Sumimasen” (excuse-me)

July 8, 2011 Posted by | JAPAN | , , , , , | Leave a comment