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June 5 – Monkey See, Monkey Do

June 7, 2012
ImageTrevor and I headed out this morning to do some touring, taking the Bullet train first to Osaka and then to Kyoto. Osaka was about 15 more minutes beyond Kyoto, which was our main destination for the day, but we decided to do a quick stop there so we could say we had been there!! It is not really a tourist attraction, as it is not known as a pretty city but it is the second largest city here with a population of about 10.5 million. And also years ago when I was about 12 years old I used to have a pen pal from here so I just had to go there!! We then headed to Kyoto, a former capital of Japan, which IS a tourist attraction with millions of visitors ever year. It is known for its 1,650!! Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, geishas and beautiful gardens. A smaller population of about 1.5 million, with  84 % of the people in Japan celebrating the Buddhist and Shinto religions.  However, Trevor and I decided we wanted to visit another attraction in Kyoto, Iwatayama, otherwise known as the monkey park at the top of a mountain. The mountains surrounding Kyoto are so beautiful  and it was fun to go to the top and hang with the approximately 200 Japanese monkeys there. They roam freely but have become accustomed to visitors and the only 3 rules were: do not feed; do not touch and do not stare. It seems if you stare they interpret it as being aggressive. It was fun to hang with the monkeys. It took about an hour to get out to Iwatayama from the central train station but it was  worth it, as the whole area was so interesting and beautiful.  Best of all, we were in the car right behind the train conductor and I was able to stand behind him at the glass partition and I felt like a 5 year old I was so excited, pretending I was driving the train!! Pretty cool as you see the tracks meandering in different directions and watching the train go one way or the other. We then walked through a beautiful bamboo forest. It was so peaceful. We then headed back to the city
centre and caught a bus to the famous Gion district which is known for its old buildings and geishas. Gion is dotted with old style Japanese houses called machiya; otherwise townhouses! Interestingly enough, we actually saw 2 geishas as we walked through the outlying area ot Iwatayama and I wish I had asked for a photo with them because we saw none at Gion, although I got a nice photo of Trevor with 3 young woman dressed in traditional costume. We passed many, many temples and shrines but we did not visit any as we have already done so many times on this Asia trip. Back on the train to meet Liam and Kazuho; we went shopping for groceries and came back home and Kazuho, who loves to cook, cooked us a delicious late night supper.ImageImageImageImage
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