Monday, May 13, 2013

Kyoto-tally Cool!!! -Alex Valentine

First off, I’d like to give a shout out to Mrs. Valentine’s third grade class at La Grange Elementary School in Tomah, WI. Can’t wait to see you all soon! Next, I’d also like to say that this trip has just been wonderful. It’s going to be a sad day leaving this beautiful nation. Now, why don’t we get to the stuff you’re interested to hear about, Kyoto and the Bullet Train.

            After being dropped off by our host families at the train station, we got on a couple different trains, but the most exciting one was the Shinkansen, with the literal translation meaning ‘bullet train’. This amazing transportation system can travel up to 200 miles per hour! It usually leaves and arrives at train stations on time and to the very second. The first train began service on October 1st, 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics and went between Osaka and Tokyo. In 1975, Japan expanded this system to include Hiroshima and Fukuoka.

            During the train ride, we got a lot of really cool pictures only some of the time because it was moving so fast. What I loved about it though was when we passed another train. The sound and sight of the train next to us happened so quick it surprised me most of the time. I really can’t wait until the United States develops their bullet train.

            Our destination for the evening was Kyoto, which is a city with some pretty awesome history. Kyoto is in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan and was actually a former imperial city from 794 BCE until 1869. It was also one city that was considered to be attacked by the atomic bomb in World War II. As a result of not being targeted, there are many buildings that have been designated as Unesco World Heritage sites in Kyoto. This city contains more than 2,000 shrines and temples and has over 30 million tourists annually.

            Once we got off the train, we traveled to three different attractions. We saw the Golden Pavilion, Nijo Castle and the Kiyomizu Temple. You’ll learn more about those places in later posts, but what I will say is that it was really cool getting to see so much of ancient Japan in one place. Kyoto is to Japan what Xi’an is to China, the one place that holds pretty much all of the culture of the country.

            After the temple, we traveled to the hotel and got the rest of the night to ourselves. A group of friends and I decided to walk to the Nintendo building, seeing as it was only twenty minutes away. On our walk, we found an Udon noodle place and it was de-li-cious!! We finished there and kept walking toward our final destination. It was so cool seeing the headquarters of the company that has the number one selling game franchise in the world (It’s Mario if you didn’t know). Once we finished there, we took another route back and found the mall right behind our hotel and wandered around there for a bit.

               I went to bed after the mall since it was such a long day. Kyoto is a wonderful city with many cultural aspects that I would just love to explore. The view from the temple was amazing and getting to see only three of the cultural heritage sites was not enough for me. I would have loved another day or afternoon even to just explore that amazing and historical city. But, as it would happen, we have more places to explore with just as much culture and wonder waiting to be discovered.


                                                                                                                        -Alex Valentine

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