Tag Archives: history

Food and Fervour in Kyoto, 2016

After our busy first day in Kyoto, my husband found a local restaurant that had fire ramen. Curious to see what this was, we walked the short distance to the establishment and waited in the queue.

When we made it inside, it became apparent that it was not just the food that was the attraction here, but also the showmanship. After donning bibs, making sure our daughter was seated behind us and covering our arms, the chef briefed us on safety instructions and we waited with anticipation.

Fire ramen was poured into our waiting bowls and a large flame erupted from each one. Now I understood the caution. The ramen actually tasted pretty good too and the chef indulged us all by taking cameos of us enjoying our meals.

The next morning we found a local coffee house for breakfast that was owned by a friendly lady. The menu included both eggs and Japanese curry which pleased the whole family at that time in the morning. We liked it so much that it became our regular morning spot.

On the agenda for the day was a historical walk including some of the main temples in Kyoto. First we went to Shoren-in temple, which had a great Japanese raked garden. Here we met a group of school girls who thought our daughter was cute and had to take a photo with her.

Next was the Chion-in temple with the largest entry gate in Japan. This time we followed a group of school children dressed in kimonos and distracted them as they took their group picture in front of the gate. More photos with our daughter ensued.

The gate to Chion-in temple was indeed big, wooden and old. There were many steps leading up to the temple complex that was nestled into the hills, just showing some autumn colours.

Our daughter was very interested in the Buddhist ceremonies. She enjoyed watching the monks as they performed a rite and wanted to join in with the praying.

The last temple was the Nanzen-ji temple with a two-storied gate. The walk to the temple had pretty residential streets with old houses. The usual rock, lantern and moss garden flanked the temple, along with an aqueduct, which was a bit different.

I had also read that there was a waterfall temple behind the main one, so we headed up the hill to look for it. As the path became less trodden and the foliage became thicker, I began to think that something was awry. After we had been climbing for over half an hour and couldn’t even hear a waterfall, we decided it was time to turn back.

Turns out, we had been walking up the wrong hill in the opposite direction. We eventually found the right path, but by then we were done for the day and we left without seeing the waterfall. Our religious fervour had officially faded and it was time to call it a day.

Related posts: Kyoto, 2016Takeyama, 2016Samurai and Shidax in Kanazawa, 2016Seeking Geisha and Gardens in Kanazawa, 2016Kanazawa, 2016Tokyo, 2016: MiraikanTokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and YanakaTokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and ShibuyaTokyo, 2016: Ueno and HarajukuJapan, 2016

It’s not how good the music is, it’s who you’re dancing with

I heard this saying the other day and it made me think.

The dance floor could be the coolest one in the country with the hippest people and the best beats. But if you are there by yourself, with people you don’t really know and don’t really like, then its really not that much fun.

The funkiest cocktail bar with the best drinks can end up being a dive in the basement if you go with the wrong people and the music is too loud. The best restaurant in the trendiest suburb can be lack lustre if you go with people who aren’t that fussed with fine food.

Of late I have been catching up with a few friends from various parts of my life and it made me remember that these people are in my life for a reason. No matter what we are going through in our lives, even if it means we can’t catch up as often as we would like, when we do see each other life seems better when shared with these people.

There are the old work friends who I’ve kept in touch with because it’s not just about the job we did together, but I actually really like them as people as well. Their lives are diverse and interesting and they offer different perspectives on life.

There’s the wives of my husbands friends who have been around for over a decade or more and are now my friends in their own right. They make restaurants more fun and Saturday nights a family bonding experience for everyone.

And there are the special friends from near and far who and know my history and me better than I do myself. It is for these friends that I am truly grateful as they have the ability to pull me out of a dark place for a reality check and make me smile no matter how bad life can seem at the time.

Friends remind you that you are not alone, you are not crazy and it’s actually the rest of the planet that has gone mad.

So whether your daily soundtrack is Portishead or Ministry of Sound, it’s the people you are listening with that can make all the difference in the world.

Related posts: Real Friends vs Digital Friends, Friendship: Great Expectations?, People vs Place, By special request 

Berlin, 1997, Part 1: The West Side

Sarah and I started our sight-seeing of the former West Berlin with Checkpoint Charlie. All that is left is a tiny concrete hut with a broken tower on top.

I spent the most time I have spent in a museum on this trip inside the Wall Museum. It has the history of the Berlin Wall from building to dismantling with photos and videos.

There was a very moving video of the wall being torn down. I could remember when it was dismantled in 1989 and it really seemed like such recent history.

The museum had footage of demonstrations and escape attempts- most of them successful. People sneaked through tunnels, in speaker boxes, hot air balloons, underwater, flying foxes, suitcases and squashed in cars. They would do anything to get out.

There was an art section with the wall theme, some of the pieces using part of the wall itself, and video of worldwide non-violent protests.

We walked a block away and saw part of the wall. There is not much of it left. We looked through a gap in the wall and I bought a postcard with a “part of wall” inset into it. The buildings near the wall had their windows bricked up.

I didn’t know Berlin was actually divided into four parts- the East suppressed communist part owned by the Soviet Union and the West free part owned by the allies was split into three parts owned by France, the UK and the USA. What a ridiculous way to divide up a city!

We saw the Kasier-Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche which was bombed during war, rebuilt, then bombed again and left with its gaping roof as a memorial.

Potsdammer Platz, as with most of the former West Berlin, was under construction and I counted 20 cranes in the area.

We walked through the heavily wooded Tiergarten to the Siegessaule Victory Column. We entered through a tunnel in the bottom and walked to the top to take in the view of the city, Brandenburg Gate and Spree River. The exhibition inside had a very scary photo of the column with swastika flags running down both sides.

There was a monument to the victims of Fascism and Militarism for all the German soldiers who died fighting the Soviets.

We walked down Strasse des 17 Juni where allied military parades were held and reached the Reichstag Building next to the Berlin Wall which has visible bullet holes from the Soviet army. Lots of fighting took place here and there are also lots of crosses as monuments to the people who died trying to get over the wall.

Related posts: Czech Republic, 1997Austria, 1997Hungary, 1997Romania, 1997Bulgaria, 1997Turkey, 1997Greece, 1997Italy, 1997, Part 2: Bella ItaliaItaly, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to FlorenceSpain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona,  Spain, 1997, Part 1: Barcelona,  France, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: ParisBelgium, 1997Holland, 1997England, 1997I first started travellingBy special requestHome is where you make itI first started writing