MY VISIT TO KYOTO
By: Rajesh Mohan Bajaj, Advisor – Japan Information Centre
A view of the Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion) at the Rokuon-ji temple
I had the opportunity to visit Japan as a participant in the ‘Study Program For Local Staff In Cultural And PR Section’ of Japanese overseas diplomatic establishments, conducted by the Public Diplomacy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, from Sep.12 – Sep.18, 2007.
Even though I had acquired much information about Japan, having worked in the Embassy for many years, I had always been looking forward to an opportunity to be able to personally visit Japan and learn more about the country and its people. The Study Program is well-structured and tries to acquaint the participants with many different aspects of Japanese life, culture, economy, ancient heritage, as well as latest technological advancements.
“While most of our week-long stay was in Tokyo, we had the good fortune of getting a two-night stay in Kyoto city as well. Kyoto is an ancient city with many notable and historic scenes, which conveys Japan’s beauty and traditions.
The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto takes about two and a half hours by the Shinkansen (bullet train). Upon arrival in Kyoto, we were taken for a tour of the city by bus. Among the highlights of the tour were visits to the Rokuon-ji temple, where we saw the Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion) built in the 14th century. The elegant, harmonious building consists of three types of architecture: the 1st floor is Shinden-zukuri (palace style), the 2nd floor is Buke-zukuri (samurai style), and the 3rd floor is Karayo (Zen temple style). Both the 2nd and 3rd floors are covered with gold-leaf on Japanese lacquer, and the roof upon which the Chinese phoenix sits, is thatched with shingles. Next, we went to the Urasenke Chado Research Center Gallery, where we were given a demonstration of the Japanese tea ceremony by a trained lady tea master. This was followed by a visit to the Nishijin Textile Industrial Association, where we saw various Japanese textiles being manufactured using traditional handloom machines and painstaking hand-work. We were also given a demonstration of how to wear a kimono, and all of us wore kimonos with the help of experts available there. We also saw a kimono fashion show at the venue.
On the next day, we went to the Kyoto International Manga Museum, where we were amazed to see thousands and thousands of Japanese Manga comics. Being a Sunday, many residents of the city had come with their families to read