Gio-ji, Arashiyama, Kyoto

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Gio-ji, Arashiyama, Kyoto

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Sorry, Kaisei students!

Hello Kaisei students.

I hope you’re all doing well.

I’m really sorry that I haven’t been able to comment on your blog entries yet. I’m still having problems viewing your blogs, I don’t know what the problem is.

Anyway, I’m going to ask Doug, L’Shawn’s husband, to help me fix the problem.

I’m looking forward to seeing your writing and making comments.

Please keep writing and also posting photos, if you can.

Take care and have a relaxing evening,

Angus

Kyoto

I know it`s a cliche`, but the fact is that Japan is a land of huge contrasts and nowhere is this more evident than Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. I live in Kobe and Kyoto is an easy daytrip away.
I remember when I was quite young I would listen to my grandfather talking about his days in the merchant navy. He wouldn`t go into many details but I used to thrill at the thought that this man had travelled so far and I used to imagine myself in his place. He had a Reader`s Digest picture book of travels around the world and I would dream that one day I would also be able to visit those places. One chapter was devoted to Japan and especially Kyoto and it seemed marvellous to me.
On arrival in Japan I was determined to waste no time and see for myself this place that had excited my imagination all those years before.
On my second day in Kobe, still seriously jet-laggged, I awoke from a lunchtime nap at around 3pm and immediately decided to jump on a train and travel for about an hour to Kyoto. I was really drowsy and consequently forgot my newly acquired guide book. Arriving in the ancient capital just before sunset, I emerged from the station and was shocked to see what I saw. Where were the temples, the old streets and houses, the workshops and the traditional way of life? In front of me were modern buildings, overhead wires, busy traffic, shopping centres and all the trappongs of a modern Asian city. I began to walk, following my instincts, and moved in the direction of the nearby hills and trees I could see in the distance. By fate or luck, I was soon in the grounds of Yasaka Jinja, an ancient Shinto shrine and, within minutes, walking on the semi-deserted preserved streets around Kiyomizu-dera, one Kyoto`s 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites. I was so excited as my preconceived ideas about what Kyoto would be like were coming true. It was now dark and the streets really quiet. I knew that I would come to love this ancient city, despite all the damage that modern town planners have done to the place. I have since returned many, many times and I never tire of its temples, gardens, and the remnants of the traditional ways. I hope to write more about this one of
my favourite cities.

Friends in Kobe

I have just had two friends visiting me from my home town, Newcastle in NE England and we had such a good time. When you live so far away from home in a completely different culture, it becomes very important for your friends and family to share the experience with you. It`s all very well going home, showing photos and talking about the things you do and see over here but, without experiencing things first-hand, it`s never really possible to accurately communicate the way things are here. One of my friends, Richie, is very active and so I took him on lots of hikes, both here in Kobe and also in Kyoto and Nara. We saw some beautiful temples and gardens, although not too many of the really famous ones. One of my favourites is Tofukuji in Kyoto, where you can see some contemporary Zen gardens that I find fascinating. But the thing that impressed them the most, I think was the food. I managed to take them to some of my farourite izakaya (Japanese food bars) and other restaurants. The highlight was probably Kobe beef at my friend`s teppanyaki restaurant in Kobe, called Marumo. Words can`t describe the joy of it all and of the fun and laughter we all had. I hope that Riche and Dave can visit again!

Welcome to Kansai

This is Angus in Kobe, Japan. I`ve been living in this country now for about 8 years. More precisely, I`ve been in the Kansai Region all this time. I feel lucky to be able to lead the life I do. In Kansai we have some of what I consider to be the most interesting things to see and do in this country as well as great food and contrasts. The main cities in the area are Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, an Nara, and each one is quite different.
Osaka is the largest city in Kansai and what it lacks in sights it certainly makes up for in energy and great-tasting food at very reasonable prices.
Kobe has a reputation as a cosmopolitan city thanks to its long history of dealing with foreigners. It has some great cafes, cake shops, and is in close proximity to the sea and the mountains. It`s a great place to live.
Kyoto is a fascinating blend of old and new but it`s the fact that it`s the epicentre of the traditional aspects of Japanese culture that keeps me comin back for more and more. I never get tired of the place, especially its marvelous temples, shrines and gardens.
Finally, when I want to spend a very relaxing day, I head to Nara, and walk through its huge and historical park with its sacred deer and incredibly old and visually stunning main religious sites. I especially love the huge, wooden temple guardians at Todaiji. They have to be seen to be believed! 
So, this is where I live but here`s so much more to say about this area and about the world in general.
I will try to post examples of my photos at regular intervals.
Thanks for reading!
Angus