Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Kyoto - Day 5 - Kōya-san and the Okunoin mausoleum

My mobile phone alarm wakes our floor up this morning, which is really weird.
I managed to get a few hours of sleep towards the early hours of the morning but after an untouched breakfast - totally impossible - we leave the monks and make our way through the village to the Okunoin mausoleum.

It is a 2 km walk among the towering Cypress trees and thousands of tombs, a beautiful stroll and the freezing wind is making sure we are wide awake after our somewhat short night.

Statues of Jizo are everywhere - the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. People place red bibs on these statues and with soo many about it really is quite eerie.

We spot memorials payed for by big corporations to remember their employees.
This is a big thing in Japan.

We get a chance to wander around the few shops in the village after the cemetery and discover with a delight, in a small supermarket, a couple of biscuits we recognise!

They love their anti-smoking campaigns here in Japan, This one I thought was brilliant !!!!

After lunch - bits and bobs bought in the supermarket as small town local food is still not an option - we go back to the monastery to pick up our belongings and meet the bus to begin our 4 hours journey back to Kyoto and our nice warm and private hotel rooms. :)

The Japanese are quite curious about us, I suppose a group of 14 Europeans travelling by train in the countryside is not a regular sight for them, and while usually they will look at us and occasionally ask a question or two - generally leading us to either say we are from France, as not many of them are aware of where Belgium is, or to put our hands up showing France and Germany and placing Belgium above the two hands so they have a rough idea.

During this trip, a bunch of school kids got on the train outside of Osaka and one girl approached me and started up a conversation in broken English. She loves the French - as most of them do - and then started to ask me various words ans phrases in French. I took out my pad and started French - Lesson 1. She would teach me the word in Japanese, I would write it down in English and then in French. It was good fun if not always easy to understand each other. Her mates found this hilarious but she was attentive and really eager to learn. She got off in Osaka with the sheet of paper and a good story to tell her parents when she got home from her 90 minute commute back from school.

The three of us bypass dinner completely top give our systems a chance to recover.

Fave pics of the day...

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