Kyoto – June 23

25 06 2010

by Professor George Sanchez

A rainy morning greeted us on our first day waking up in Kyoto. We split into multiple taxis to take the entire group to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple on the hillside overlooking the city of Kyoto. In what has to be one of the most beautiful spots in the world, this temple integrates the Japanese love of nature with the spiritual side of Shinto and Buddhist religions. By now, many of the students are accustomed to the traditions of praying at Shinto shrines, including purifying oneself by washing your hands, letting incense fill your lungs, and sometimes seeking your fortune for 100 yen. At this historic temple, over 1000 years old, our journey included drinking from the pure water that comes down from the mountaintop. After the visit, most went out for more souvenir shopping at the various stalls and businesses surrounding the temple, while a few headed for a more serene setting of the gardens at Heian Shrine.

We quickly gathered our things at our hotel and headed to the Kyoto train station, where we took another Shinkansen to Nagoya, an industrial city in the heart of Japan. Our hotel was just next to the train station, which made moving around the city especially easy. Our hosts for this part of the trip was the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce, who maintains an economic and cultural exchange with the city of Los Angeles, because the two have been sister cities for the past fifty years. After a restful break in the afternoon, the Chamber formally welcomed us to Nagoya, with a welcome reception dinner.

The students were surprised at the formal introduction and speeches that began the reception, as well as the traditional gift-giving. Even the American Consulate office in Nagoya came to greet us and give us tips for the city. They felt much more comfortable with the informal exchange which followed, with both city business leaders and a select group of college students from Nagoya City University. We certainly felt welcomed to this fascinating industrial city.




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