A very interesting article appeared in my Facebook feed this morning. Check it out at:
The situation is that there are a lot of foreign people who are coming to Japan to experience the culture and the food, and of course, one of the most popular places to go is Kyoto. It’s no wonder. As the former capital of Japan, a place rich in temples, shrines, castles, and wonderful food, there is much to see and do in Kyoto.
I was in Kyoto a couple of years ago with friends from America and we were there in July. It was quite crowded. We arrived during the Gion Festival, and it was a great thing to see. The streets were packed with people, we could see a group of maiko (geisha in training) lined up to enjoy the giant shrines paraded down the street. Despite the heat, we were shoulder to sweaty shoulder with tourists from all over the world.
I thought I would mind the crowds, but I really didn’t.
When you go to Kyoto, especially in the summer, you can expect to meet a lot of people on the bus, on the train, on the sidewalks, in the shops and cafes, and everywhere else you go. The temples and shrines will not be so serene and calm, but you just have to accept that as the way it is going to be. People love Japan, and they love Kyoto. So, they are going to go and see it.
I think that is great, and Kyoto is a terrific place to see Japan for the first time.
But once you’ve “seen” Kyoto, you may want to think about your next exploration in Japan. If you come to Shikoku, you can do more than just “see”. You can do. You can be submersed. You can participate. You can join others. You can touch, smell, and feel a different kind of Japan. Kyoto is awesome, but it needs to be roped off a little. Otherwise, so much of it would be trampled by busloads of tourists. Shikoku does not have that problem. The pace here is slower, more relaxed, and more… “Japanese”.
Deep Japan is here in Shikoku. On the waves of the Seto Inland Sea, on the narrow streets of Naoshima exploring art, on the paths of the 88 Buddhist Temple pilgrimages as you walk by cedar, pine, and bamboo, and up the ancient staircases of Konpira Shrine.
Shikoku is the land of places to look wide and far, and to feel a calm and gentle breeze coming down from the hills and over the water. So, head on out to Kyoto. Have a great time. Check out the golden and silver pavilions. Go to the temple on stilts, Kiyiomizudera. Squeeze through the crowds to glimpse at the stones of the Zen rock garden of Ryouanji. But then, when you’ve done that, you know what you might do?
Come to Kagawa. Come to Shikoku.
See you here, and travel safe.