Going the Tourist Route (for a few hours)

Dianne recalls her spring 2018 visit to her second home, Kyoto.
Today we merged with a few of the thousands of Chinese tourists who come to Kyoto to view the cherry blossoms. There are droves of Chinese tourists who flock here eager to shop and have fun. Young Chinese women dress up in brightly colored garish kimono, taking advantage of dozens of kimono rental businesses that have sprung up recently. These try-on opportunities are not regarded kindly by many Japanese, because,in their opinion, it cheapens and demeans the refined beauty of the kimono. I’ve noted that the women seem quite pleased with their transformation, snapping selfies and obviously oblivious to their host nation’s opinion of the practice.

The Nishiki Market

Japanese manners place a great emphasis on “ikkai ichi dousa,” a phrase similar to “one thing at a time.” So eating while walking is seen as impolite. Also, in sacred places such as temples and shrines eating and drinking is considered to show a lack of common sense and bad manners. Things to Remember When Eating Outdoors in Japan – WOW! JAPAN

The Nishiki Market, a 400 year old covered food market selling the ultimate in fresh Kyoto food products is quickly transforming to cater to tourist tastes by selling more food that can be eaten while strolling, a no – no activity in polite Japan. Several long time food vendors have left the market, and I fear that the changes are irreversible. The market is going from a serious shopping area for locals to a place thronged with browsing tourists, only interested in where to get the next matcha soft serve ice cream cone, souvenir or skewered octopus. Now, if you’re seriously shopping for your dinner, you’ll have a challenging time just walking through the narrow arcade. It’s the double edged sword of tourism.

Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan

The Sagano Romantic Train

This trip we are traveling with my daughter and her family. We decided that it would be a fun outing for all to take an old train, called the Sagano Romantic Train from Arashiyama through a scenic gorge.

I’m not sure about the accuracy of the Romantic nomenclature, other than as a marketing tool. It’s been successful! From the moment we left Kyoto station, it was standing room only, as we joined the hundreds of other tourists who’d decided to do the same thing. On the Sagano Romantic portion of the trip, thankfully we had reserved seats.
Truth be told, it was a fun, if brief 25 minute ride through the scenic canyon and the not so scenic tunnels through the mountains. Visitors snapped hundreds of photos of the river flowing below the tracks, myself included, as if we’d never seen a river! Hey, when in Rome….

If you so choose, you can take a 2 hour boat ride back to Arashiyama

Armed with an adorable cup of matcha ice cream, I was more than happy to travel along. I tried unsuccessfully to start a group sing of “Down by the Station,” which would have truly been unforgettable. I think the Chinese would have loved it, although next time I’ll come prepared to pass out sheet music. On the other hand, it’s probably best that I didn’t embarrass and horrify my grandkids.

The immaculately attired and self-composed car attendant kept up an almost constant monologue in Japanese about something she seemed intent on teaching us ( I am guessing it was about the river) although I am sure no one in our car understood a word she was saying. No matter, I enjoyed watching her talking to no one and not caring. She took her job very seriously.

We disembarked in a small town at the end point of the gorge. A vendor’s truck selling sweet potatoes met the train. No matter that the sweet potatoes are generally an autumn treat. The truck itself was a piece of folk art.

We were all ready to return to Kyoto in time for lunch, but all happy we’d digressed onto the Tourist Route for just a bit.

Published by devapnek

In an attempt to slow life’s quickening pace, I’m writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spend the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC several times a year. I’ve been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past 9 years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It’s been incredibly gratifying. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan. I’ve been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time. View all posts by devapnek


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