Train Ride to a Garden Party

These Japanese high-speed trains are great. They’re pricey to use, but very comfortable and fast … and quiet. Not like the French TGVs (mean tongues whisper TGV stands for Tres Grand Vibration (=very big vibration) instead of Train Grand Vitesse (=high speed train) ..) … I took one of these trains to get from Tokyo to Kyoto to see some of the fabled Japanese Imperial gardens. Here’s pictures from the ride and the gardens:

Train Ride Tokyo – Kyoto – Tokyo

Kyoto is a strange mix of old and new. Most people live in modern housing similar to western style buildings. But every now and then there’s an old building squeezed in somewhere or an old temple around a corner where you didn’t expect to find one. I never saw a Geisha (only two old ladies in a kimono) but otherwise I found the place very fascinating. Also, the hotel I stayed in has my nominee of most comfortable hotel bed in the world … or then maybe I was just exhausted after running around the city all day and then getting rained at, … and I mean absolutely, positively drenched. It’s been an oppressive heat all day, hot and extremely humid to the point that the heat burned on your skin, so I wasn’t surprised to see a thunderstorm draw in. But I was walking down the street one minute and found myself literally diving for cover the next as the deluge came on without any warning. I jumped into a city bus that had just happened to stop right next to me. The bus could have been the one to hades for all I cared, but I decided now was as good a time for a bus ride as any. A local business man I met later on in the subway told me that these deluges are very common this time of year.

I’ve paid a visit to the Kyoto Imperial garden, which is stunningly beautiful. I couldn’t get into the palace, since you need a formal permission to enter the palace. But I managed to get one for the following day for the so-called Sento Palace, where retired emperors lived and today’s imperial family still stays occasionally. Here are some of these pictures. We weren’t allowed to enter the main building, but the garden was more than worth coming for. During the tour, we had a guide who spoke into this weird machine, probably to be heard louder. He kept talking a long time, but I couldn’t understand a word he said. He only spoke Japanese.

Kyoto – around town
Kyoto – Sento Palace

Also, I found another palace nearby, called Nijo Palace. I think I now understand where Frank Lloyd Wright found the inspiration for the design of a house that was the model for the home of my grandparents … A highly fascinating place, built during the shogun period, where most of the outside and inside walls are sliding doors. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures outside but here are some pictures from another spectacular garden.

Kyoto – Nijo Palace

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