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28 Feb 2020

Quite a different world – Kyoto, Japan

Quite a different world – Kyoto, Japan

Traveling around Europe, America, and other members of the so-called Western World, we have the opportunity to experience a bit different architecture, nature, language, or cuisine then in our homeland, but is it really so exotic? Culture so different from ours? The whole Europe, America, and Australia come from the Judeo-Christian culture, the Latin culture. Thus, many of the behaviors or habits are quite similar.

Quite different thing is with Japan. This country, despite the ubiquitous globalization, to the present times, has retained its identity and otherness.

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Although today is the third economy of the world, the purpose of visits of millions of tourists every year, I’m taking you on a journey to the Japan, which for centuries was isolated by the sea and the fleet from foreign empires. To the land of sublime temples, honorable samurais and mysterious geishas. To the old capital of Empire of Japan – Kyoto.

The most desired flight

After about 20 months of flying in the end I managed to get this one of the most desired flights among steward community – Osaka. And even twice!

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As the majority of passengers or actually clients (according to the nomenclature prevailing in the company) were the Japanese, with the culture of the country of the blooming cherries, I encountered not having even taken off from the Dubai International Airport. To say that they have the manners is like say nothing.

Having heard only my “good morning”, they slightly bow by tilting forward. When serving food and drinks, forward bends only head (as they’re sitting) in a gesture of gratitude. And this gratitude, politeness and respect what’s so endearing that I’d served them whatever they’d ask for.

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But the problem is or rather comfort that they’re not asking for anything. They sit politely through the whole flight and either stare at these little screens, or read, or sleep. So, flights to Japan are having great popularity among the colleagues at my work, not necessarily because of the desire to know Japan, but the lightness of work. Moreover, Japanese client never raises complaint, will never say loud something he didn’t like. But after the flight, he’ll share the disappointment with his friends and  effectively help them get rid of the idea to use the services of this or that company.

Ritual of selling a postcard

This suggests, therefore, that the quality of services in Japan must be at a high level. And so indeed it is. Buying the simplest object can sometimes take the form of ritual…

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Together with Mary from Northern Ireland, we went in the morning straight to Kyoto, which is just about 60 km from Osaka, but thanks to the very efficient Japanese railway transport the journey takes much as journey by subway from far Queens to Manhattan. For starter we choose to visit one of the three temples – the distinctive emblems of the city – the Temple Fushimi Inari-taisha, which will long remain in my memory, not only by endlessly stretching orange gates

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marble foxes, sent by the goddess Inari as guardians

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but because of… buying postcard.

Very calm and balanced about 50-year-old Japanese man before receiving  the payment for the postcard from me, placed it on the counter, then he picked up the two stones and strike out of them sparks on the subject of the transaction. The whole ritual hypnotized me so much that I forget but was also a bit shy to ask what does it means. I could only comment to Mary, that indeed we’re in different world.

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For luck in love!

Because of the later hours and at the same time bigger amounts of visitors, at the other temples hasn’t been so sublime. However, perhaps because of a visit to one of them, I’ll be lucky in love? :)

Temple Otowa-sa Kiyomizu-dera (Temple of clean water of Otowa mountain) in addition to the pavilions built on impressive porches,

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it’s known mostly of the waterfall Otowo no-taki. And the magic of this waterfall is about its waters which are divided into three streams. The legend says that drinking from the first ensures longevity. Drops of the second one guarantee success in science and business. While drinking from the third will give luckiness in love.

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But there’s one catch. You can drink only from one to not be accused of greediness. Without thinking too much, as it might hearts, I chose luck in love! I’m healthy, I’m satisfied with life, so the only important thing in life I’m missing is love. So maybe it may help! ;)

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Truly Golden Temple

In Kyoto, which, until the second half of the XIX century was the capital of Japan, there’re are dozen of beautiful temples. However because of limited time and your patience in reaching the last paragraph ;) I focused on three, in my opinion, the most beautiful and interesting. And the last one is the temple of Kinkaku-ji, or Temple of the Golden Pavilion.

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The architecture of this building is so light and subtle, that the pavilion seems to almost float on the water. So can you imagine that such a wonder in the 50s of the XX century completely burned after arson by the monk, as it turned out, mentally ill, who then unsuccessfully tried to set himself in fire at a nearby hill? With the decision to rebuild did not wait long. It was opened in five years after the incident. It was also decided that for its new life will be even more splendid. It was covered with the flakes of pure gold.

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Different world

Japan, in addition to the beautiful and rich culture, I always associated with the mass of people, hundreds of buildings placed along the narrow streets of various cities connected by rail of high speed. As it turned out, even in the metropolis of Kyoto you can let enjoy your eyes with endless greenery. And the one you won’t experienced nowhere in Europe.

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Wandering through the paths of the hills surrounding the city from the west and watching the boats big and small

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I came into the world previously unknown to me. To the world of plants which to Japanese culture are inextricably linked. There’s no end of legends and myths, where one of the main characters are those plants. The man regularly eating it is growing in strength. It’s made from it ice creams, buildings or fences. But does most people actually had ever seen how these plants grow?

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Bamboo forest! Walking here is like stepping into another world. Even dozens of visitors feel the solemnity of the place, like in some temple. All of us communicate with each other in a whisper. No wonder that the place serves as a source of inspiration for many writers and musicians.

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I am a samurai

Another hour spent in the homeland of the country of the rising sun, made me… feel an element of samurai in myself…

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And not just anywhere, but in the oldest district of the city – Gion, famous for its geishas. But this isn’t the red light district, because the geishas contrary to the false opinion generally prevailing in the Western world aren’t prostitutes. Geisha is a woman of artistic skills (gei – art, sha – person) who entertains her guests by playing the traditional Japanese instruments, singing and dancing.

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So from where the myth that geisha is a hustler? After World War II, when the Americans occupied Japan, the turmoil of the war made Kyoto much deserted. From the city, also disappeared geishas. Local prostitutes to seduce occupants to use their services began to dress up as geishas. Americans mistakenly started to believe that geishas are just prostitutes. And so untrue rumor went out into the world.

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As for the Americans, the first one of the targets of atomic bombs, was Kyoto. Ahh.. would be such a pity not only for Japan, but for the whole world to lose such a wonderful city.

Arigato godzaimas girls!

Not only I got two flights to such an amazing place, but what’s more was with the cool crew. Charming Japanese girls, rather than immediately meet with their families, friends, decided to take the time and take me out for a dinner, in evening time in Osaka :)

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And at the same time proved that Japanese cuisine isn’t just sushi, but also, for example, Okonomiyaki (cake/pizza), which is especially famous for Osaka.

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Although I saw only a piece of Japan, I fell in love immediately with the culture of this country. This otherness, solemnity of daily activities and incredible kindness of people. Therefore, I don’t have other option but to come back here for a longer time :)

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And last but not least check out the video! :)

2 thoughts on “Quite a different world – Kyoto, Japan

  1. Jose Garcia October 11, 2016 / 4:44 pm

    This one was quite fascinating to me because although I am no Japanophile like many people and although I’m not really that much into Mangas or Anime as many white Americans, I think that Japan is quite an interesting country with (as you pointed out) many contradictions by the class of the Western world with the Eastern traditions as well as having so many things that may seem quite odd and liberal in a yet very conservative country. I am hoping to be able to visit Japan in 2020 for the next Olympics if my cousins go and I would love to do Kyoto, Tokyo, Yokohama and get very near Mt. Fuji. But Osaka would be amazing too. But I do have one question now that you were dressed like a Samurai… did you Killed Bill? :-P

    • FlyingPolack! October 11, 2016 / 5:19 pm

      As much as I’m deeply inside a true samurai I didn’t kill anybody. Even Kill Bill ;)

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