The Perfect Blossom

April 10th, 2010

Day 82.  We woke up to a lavish breakfast to set us up for exploring the ancient city of Kyoto.

Breakfast, Kyoto style. Notice the obligatory personal barbeque.

Kyoto seems to have it all.  Along with a large commercial area, shopping district, and more restaurants per square foot than humanly possible, it is pepperd with no less than 1600 shrines tucked away in its winding alleys, and only a few miles out of the city will find temples and gardens nestled in the colourful hills.

We’re in cherry blossom season and the landscape, be it urban or rural, is awash with a sea of pink and white flowers.  This is a big deal in Japan and it is eagerly awaited each spring.  Hoards of people are either having their photo taken under them or taking close-up photos of the individual blossoms.

Safe stands under the cherry blossom while trying not to scratch the sandfly bites on his leg from New Zealand

Factoid: The movie buffs among you might have seen one of our favourite films, The Last Samurai.  One of the leading characters is a warrior and leader, yet he is also a learned man and a philosopher.  He spends his life searching for “The Perfect Blossom” and it is only at the moment of his death at the hands of the Emperor that he watches cherry blossoms falling from the trees for the final time and cries, “They are all perfect!”

The perfect blossom

Safe sniffs the perfect blossoms

We visited the Zen Bhuddist temples of Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji by the Eastern hills of Kyoto and contemplated the Zen gardens which are unchanged for centuries.  A common feature of these and other temples seems to be that their wooden structures sadly burned down on many occasions in their history.  We cannot help but think of the Japanese penchant for personal indoor barbeques and the obvious potential for mishaps.

We trod the Philosopher’s Walk which follows a canal connecting both temples and is lined with endless cherry blossom.


Zen garden at Nanzen-ji

Temple scrolls

Chariots await the weary traveller

Annie has her photo taken with a bemused chariot puller

In the afternoon, we boarded a bus to take us from one end of the city to the other.  The bus driver dressed in a suit and white gloves was very courteous and softly warned the standing passengers via loudspeaker each time the bus was about to move.  We had ample time spot fashionably dressed Kyotoites walking their dogs, generally of the cute little yappy-type variety.

Samurai Hound

In the West of the city we happened across a Pachinko parlour, one of many dotted around Kyoto.  Pachinko is a popular (and seemingly addictive) pastime which is a cross between a fruit machine and a pinball machine.  Stepping into the parlour through the sound-proof doors was like stepping into the jet engine of an aircraft.  The sound of a million metal balls whizzing round and round made our heads spin so we took a sneaky picture of the bleary eyed punters then quickly left.


Back in London, NewField IT is proud to have provided professional services in countless countries around the world.  It came as no surprise to find evidence of NewField IT’s commitment to its clients on our return to a shopping precinct in Kyoto Station.

If anyone can, NewField can! Obama would be proud.

3 Responses to “The Perfect Blossom”

  1. BODAD says:

    Wonderful! We must visit these amazing places when Aunty Audrey is up and running again! You have an amazing record of your travels to warm you on a Winters evening. We’ll have lots of cherry blossom on Hall Lane when you return.

  2. aseema misra says:

    Wow!! love the cherry blossom – truly beautiful

  3. James D says:

    Love the sign and the hound. Pachinko is great fun. You should have a go at Mah Jong if you come across a parlor.

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