A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Our Shinkansen at Okayama

Tofukuji Temple

The maples turning at last - Tofukuji

Zen gravel - Tofukuji


Zen monks moving (slowly...) into action

Comic Japanese schoolkids

Zen in action

Japanese hairdressers, not sure what the message is!

One of the more spacious torii tunnels of Inari

Lanterns and torii, Inari

A typical torii tunnel

Torii and little Inaris

The loveable drunken badger buffoon found outside nearly every bar in Japan

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MPG - 2.99 MB)

Children watching zen ritual...

I don't think we could ever totally fit in here, in Erica's case, largely due to the difficulties being vegetarian and not able to speak Japanese at all, in mine, largely due to my difficulties in being either smart or polite, as those who know me will no doubt testify. I have stopped trying to learn more Japanese though; I was beginning to hit the law of diminishing returns on the one hand, and wanting to listen to my PG Wodehouse audiobooks instead on the other. I don`t even want to think about trying to resurrect my Korean shortly.

So we whooshed back to Kyoto in style and comfort on the Shinkansen. We are in a tatami-mat room again in this new hostel in a lovely part of Kyoto not far north of the station, a maze of narrow and interesting streets. As it was the last day of Erica`s Rail Pass we used our passes to take the train down to Tofukuji, a gorgeous Zen Temple set amongst maples, with mystic gravel gardens, etc. While we were there there was some kind of big ceremony, which was very atmospheric; chanting, drumming, weird noises, etc. Hundreds of cute and tiny comedy schoolchildren were brought along to briefly participate, which was almost as entertaining as the main event.

Then we walked along to nearby Inari, mountain home of the fox god Inari and the tunnels of red torii. When I went there a few weeks ago it was pouring with rain, it was much nicer on a really hot day, though still almost impossible to capture the red tunnels on film. We had a lovely time wandering around through the tunnels and trees, and even managed to get Erica fed in a very ethnic mountain tea-house.

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