Some Nice Drinks, but a Dangerous Idea...
No the drinks aren't poisoned, spiked or intoxicating... You see whenever my lovely wife says "darling, I have an idea", I reply with "your ideas are dangerous", because most of the time she says that, it normally involves me having to do a lot of work! But, this time it was I who came up with a dangerous idea and to break the idea to Ritsuko, I took her to a nice cafe. Actually my idea didn't really involve her doing any work, it just involved me wanting to spending a insanely huge sum of money (from her point of view) on something that was a bargain (from my point of view). I'm sure all of you who are married have had similar conversations.
What the certain thing was and whether I got to buy it will be revealed in future, but on this occasion she wasn't very happy about me even asking... And I'm too nice a guy to try the forgiveness is easier than permission route...
BTW I highly recommend Holly's Cafes in Kyoto.
Note 13/02/2011: Sorry if I've not commented on anyones' photos for a while, I got caught up for two weeks with some urgent work as I was in the middle of posting the last batch which was supposed to include this PBLOG entry as well. Hopefully things have got back to normal now, but we've have mutually come up with a very dangerous idea recently that may make me very busy in a few weeks...
Snow and Sakura!
As I was saying the last PBLOG entry the Sakura in 2010 didn't really signal the end of the cold weather. In fact we got something that only happens about once every six years and that was it snowed during the Sakura blossoming. I got better shots of the snow and much better ones of the Sakura that day, but this is the only decent shot of the two together as proof of it's occurrence.
This photo was taken outside of Nanzen-ji (Nanzen Temple), which according to the Lonely Planet Kyoto Guide is the best temple in Kyoto city, given the 1000s of temples in Kyoto city, that's saying something! It is a pretty good temple too, and much quieter than some of the more famous places, but I think I've seen better just outside of Kyoto city, which the Lonely Planet doesn't know about yet!
Actually, the day that we went happened to be in a time that we finally had a couple of days break from teaching, while the students were on Spring Vacation. Ritsuko and I were joined on this trip by three of the teachers from Megumi Kindergarten (where I teach English) and one of their friends. While it was a cold start to the morning with snow, it was a lovely sunny day for the rest of the day. After lunch at a traditional restaurant near Nanzen-ji, we walked all the way from Keage to Shijo-Kawaramachi, stopping in the Sanjo-Kawaramachi area for afternoon tea.
The blossoming of the Sakura is a cause for celebration, because it's normally the end of the cold weather and the start of the warmer part of the year. The Sakura came a week early in 2010 which gave us hopes of warmer weather sooner, but it was not the case. April 2010 and was colder than average and we were still rugged up for most of the Sakura viewings we went to! More to come in the next few PBLOG entries.
The Sakura in Japan also has deep philosophical meaning as a reminder that beauty is only short lived, and life itself is fleeting. As I reflect on these things the following scripture comes to mind: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people [is] grass. (8) The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." - Isaiah 40:7-8 (King James Version)
Hagashiyama Hanatouro (Part II)
As I mentioned in the last PBLOG, I made plans to go back the following week at an earlier time. This time, just to make it more interesting I used film instead of digital and a monopod rather than a tripod. Here are couple of the shots from that day. Other than photography, it was also a good chance for me to get out on my own and practice Japanese in the “real world”.
This time I caught the bus to near Kiyomizu-dera (Kiyomizu Temple) decided I'd miss the light at some of my other chosen spots if I went in there, so I walk down from outside Kiyomizu-dera to Yasaka shrine. By the time I got to Yasaka shrine I had finished one roll of film and it was already too dark for film and a monopod so I didn't load up a second roll. Rather I sat down for a beer and ate some vendor food that was sold in the shrine grounds. While I was there I chatted with a guy from England and his French girlfriend. It was cool because the English guy spoke English and French, the French Lady spoke French and Japanese and I spoke English and Japanese. It was very interesting to hear how different people viewed Japan. And that couple weren't the only people I spoke to that evening by any means, but it certainly was my most memorable conversation of the evening.
Hagashiyama Hanatouro (Part I)
Just as Arashiyama had a special light up in December
, Higashiyama has its light up in March. Actually I found the Higashiyama light up much easier to get around because it's much more spread out which thins down the crowds a bit. Higashiyama's Hanatouro(flower light path) seems to be concentrating on lighting up the traditional neighbourhoods and temples, rather than natural features, plus it's more towards the centre of Kyoto city. Thus this Hanatouro is quite a contrast from the Arashiyama one and it's worth seeing them both.
Unfortunately, since Ritsuko came with me we had to eat dinner first, which meant I missed the best of the light (i.e. shortly after sunset), so I had to make to do with blackened skies in most of my photos. I also had to lug around a tripod, and it was a long walk from Yasaka Shrine (top left) to Kiyomizu Temple (bottom right) and back again!
However while I was walking along, I was taking mental notes of the good spots, and made plans to go back the following weekend at an earlier time by myself...