March 16, 2016


Ryan has a conference each year in Japan, and I've gone with him a couple of times. I wasn't planning on going this year, but when one of the wives was going, I decided to join in on the fun. Ryan and I were able to make it more of a vacation than usual, with Ryan only working a few days.

We spent the first few days in Kyoto. It was lovely. I went back and forth and back and forth on where to stay. Our choices were the Westin which was older but very close to many of the things we wanted to see, and a brand new hotel the Suiran, a ryokan-style hotel built on a historic shrine. It was off the beaten path, and I worried that we would spend all of our time trekking back and forth to the hotel. But we decided to give it a go. It was so great. A small, very Japanese hotel, in a gorgeous setting. The beds were low to the ground, we had beautiful Kimonos, and a small private courtyard with an outdoor bath (kind of like a one person hot tub).
Looking into the dining room

The view from the hotel

We spent our first day with the other couple that came on the trip, the Hammonds. We hired a guide to show us some of the Kyoto sites. One of the fun things was all the students in the town. They had assignments to practice their English, and were so excited to talk to us. They always wanted a picture, and ALWAYS made a peace sign.

At one of the sites we saw an ancient mantra, which reminded me of President Hinckley's 5 Be's. Be honest, be remorseful, be humble, show service, be grateful.

We learned lots of interesting things from our guide Hiroko. I don't remember any of them right now (as I'm blogging 6 months after the fact), but I know at the time I thought it was great!

After our tour the Hammonds headed to Tokyo and Ryan and I went to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This was one of my favorite things. It is a 4k hike through 40,000 Tori gates--the bright red archways. At the bottom they are small and densely packed, and as you get higher and higher (233 meters high) they are huge and more spread out. At the bottom it is packed with people and we were trying hard to get a shot without people in it. Little did we know that the masses wouldn't make it to the top and there were loads of photo ops.


It was a good day and we worked up quite the appetite. We ate Tonkatsu in downtown Kyoto before making the trek back to our hotel. 

The next day we took to the streets and saw the Golden Pavillion, two rock gardens/shrines, the bamboo forest and a few other shrines. The Golden Pavillion was amazing. We got there early and were able to enjoy it before the throngs of people arrived (only slightly--we were literally steps ahead of huge school groups). 

How's this for zen?

Our hotel was near the bamboo forest, which was cool to walk through. But the best part were the groups of preschoolers making the trek. They were so excited to say "Hello!! Hello!! Hello!!" and wave. Darling.


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