Kyoto, Japan, October 2011 travel blog

Alan and new friends at the Peace Memorial, Hiroshima

A quiet inlet at Shukkeien Garden.

Tea house

Beautifully pruned trees, wonderful pond, perfect long-distance views

Ladies preparing for tea ceremony

A lady enjoying the view of the garden

The old, with a new apartment building behind. Wonder what it costs...

Hungry koi!

Bridge in the middle of the lake

Interesting bridge configuration

Made the two-hour Shinkansen trip to Hiroshima today. Briefly visited the Peace Memorial, but spent most of the time at my new favorite garden, Shukkeien. Construction started in 1620. The name literally means “shrink scenery garden,” and expresses the idea of collecting and miniaturizing many scenic views. In the center is Takuei Pond, containing more than 10 islets large and small. Around its circumference are mountains, valleys, bridges, tea houses, and arbors, all skillfully arranged. There is a strolling path that goes around the entire garden.

The bridge that spans the center of the pond is Koko-kyo (literal translation is “straddling rainbow bridge”).

The teahouse provides a perfect view of the pond. There was a tea ceremony taking place, and we enjoyed seeing the ladies in beautiful kimono.

In 1945, the garden was destroyed by the atomic bomb, but the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education instituted repairs to restore its scenery to previous condition. It is now a very popular sightseeing spot, for good reason!

We spent a long time enjoyed the variety of views and the very active and beautiful koi. I finally got some good photos of koi with their large mouths open, since there was a feeding station at one end of the bridge.

After enjoying an ice cream cone at the garden, we walked back to Hiroshima Station and took the Shinkansen back to Himeji, hoping to see the gardens there that we missed yesterday due to rain and one group member’s bad cold. However, we got there too late, but we returned to the restaurant where one of our group had left his hat yesterday. True to Japanese form, they had it!

On the way back to the train station, through a wonderful covered shopping street, we found a 100 yen store and stocked up on a few things. We also found a kimono shop that had what I had been looking for, a nibushiki. It’s not as formal as a kimono, and is actually a skirt and top. The woman who ran the store was delightful, and her son enjoyed practicing his English with us.

Took the Shinkansen back to Kyoto, marveling at its comfort and on-time performance. Now it will be early to bed, since we have a taxi picking us up at 6:30 so we can have a long day at Tokyo Disneyland tomorrow.

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