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Hello, Kyoto!

In Japan, there’s a holiday called Obon that originated from a Buddhist tradition of honoring one’s ancestors. Nowadays it’s an occasion for people to visit their families and hometowns, as well as travel a lot, since it’s a major holiday season and many companies give their employees a few vacation days during Obon. Mitsubishi employees got an entire week off, so Grace and I are taking advantage of this period to visit the Kansai region of Japan, which includes Kyoto and Osaka.

We spent the first few days in Kyoto, hitting up all the major sightseeing destinations of the city. Our first two days there another typhoon (Halong) hit Japan, but this time we weren’t so lucky to avoid it. It rained through the entirety of our first two days, and since many of Kyoto’s attractions are outdoors, we were pretty soaked by the end of each day. But we still managed to (mostly) enjoy ourselves at:

Eikando Zenrinji

Zenrinji is a Buddhist temple known for its lovely fall foliage (which of course we didn’t see, though it was quite scenic) and a statue of the Amida Buddha in an unusual position–head turned, looking over its shoulder. The story goes that the statue once came to life, then turned back to one of the monks as if beckoning to/waiting for him. (No photos of the statue itself, unfortunately.)

Fushimi Inari Taisha

A Shinto shrine dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, agriculture, and prosperity, this area is located on Mount Inari, with many trails to the top. The trails are lined with hundreds (thousands?) of red torii gates sponsored/donated by Japanese companies and wealthy individuals. Since the full-sized torii gates cost hundreds of thousands of yen, everyday folk can donate minature ones, which are found at small shrines scattered along the trail. It’s a really interesting experience to walk through a corridor of these red gates and just seeing them everywhere.


By the time we visited the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, the rain had lessened considerably and merely drizzled a little in the morning. I can’t say I ever wondered what it would be like if one were to cover most of a building with gold leaf, but my non-curiosity is now satisfied. The pavilion is located on a pond that reflects its image in the surface, effectively doubling its magnificence.

Joanne Li