Published: June 6th 2012June 3rd 2012
This week I have my friend Helen visiting me in Japan. She is only here for a week, and it is her first time in Japan, so I decided to try and pack in as much as possible. She arrived in Tokyo Sunday morning, so in the afternoon we got to spend some time touring around some of the famous Tokyo sights. The next morning we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto (by bullet train it only takes two and a half hours to get there).
I booked us in for a "Maiko" (Geisha) makeover in the afternoon. The whole process took nearly two hours. We picked out the kimono we wanted to wear, they did the complete makeover, wigs and all, and then we had a studio photo session. We were amazed at how many layers are involved with the kimono. Just when you think they have finished they add another layer of fabric. The finished outfits were stunning - but incredibly heavy! The wigs alone weighed a ton and the traditional shoes are very hard to walk in. We were both pleased with the results though - you can barely recognise us! It took ages to get off the
full white makeup after the photoshoot and to unwind all the layers of fabric.
After the makeover we took a stroll up to the beautiful Kiyomizudera temple (Pure water temple), which is famous for its stunning views over Kyoto. In the evening I whisked Helen off to Osaka, which is only 30 minutes on the train from Kyoto, for a whistle-stop tour of the crazy Namba district and a dinner of Tako-yaki (fried Octopus balls).
We stayed in the capsule hotel I had stayed in during my last visit to Kyoto, which was good fun. Our bus back to my home town wasn't until 4pm on Tuesday, so we headed to the pretty city of Nara in the morning, to see the giant buddha at Todaiji temple. The temple if surrounded by beautiful parkland where deer roam around waiting to be fed by the thousands of tourists that flock to the area. I bought some deer food to feed them and was promptly mobbed by the hungry animals!
Today I took Helen into school with me to experience a full day of life in a Japanese Junior High School. I think she enjoyed it, but she was
about ready to drop by the end of the day, with so many introductions in class and answering so many questions. Most of the questions went along the lines of "What Japanese foods do you like/not like" etc, but one kid surprised us by springing "How is the UK economy holding up?" on her!
Tomorrow we will go on a tour of the local beauty spots, Friday she will visit the local elementary school with me and then Saturday it will be time to head back to Tokyo ready for her flight home on Sunday - so it has been a short, but action packed visit.
There are more photos below