This little introduction here is the first piece of this series that I’m not writing from a bus, train, airplane or hotel room; I’m back home in Canada, but I left my heart in Kyoto.
Even though I spent the same amount of time in Japan as I did in China, when I got home and started reviewing my photos and writing, I found I had less content from Japan than I did from China—certainly not enough to fill another four blog posts. Maybe it’s because I felt so at home in Japan that I spent less time documenting my experiences and more living in each moment as I fell in love with the places I visited. Whatever the reason, I know for certain that this will not be the last time I see this amazing country.
Adventures in Asia
Part V: I Left My Heart in Kyoto
My experience in Japan has been absolutely phenomenal. Of all the cities I have visited in my lifetime so far, Kyoto easily ranks among them as one of the best. There is an underlying feeling of belonging wherever I go; never before have I felt so at home in a place that I am completely foreign to. Even the fact that I only know a few words in Japanese hasn’t caused the slightest deterrent in enjoying my time here. It is primarily the people who make me feel so welcome, and it’s incredibly refreshing to spend time in an atmosphere where individual priority doesn’t seem to be the most important consideration of everyone around me.
The scenery here is more beautiful than I could ever hope to put into words. I could wander these tranquil temple paths for days and never get tired of it. There is a sense of calmness and serenity here like I have never experienced before.
I have come to realize that this cultural behaviour of harmony and respect shared among the Japanese can be directly attributed to the notion of collectivism, and the common goal of creating a higher standard of living for the society as a whole. Motorists are considerate to not impose themselves on fellow vehicles and pedestrians. People in general trust each other more, leaving plants and personal belongings outside of their houses without the perturbation of theft or vandalism. Despite the country’s economic wealth, value is placed not in overly extravagant materialistic possessions, but in maintaining the country’s cultural landmarks and efficient infrastructure. It is a place rooted deeply in tradition and respect for all aspects of life.
From Kyoto’s little pedestrian areas to Tokyo’s bustling downtown, the streets of Japan are constantly alive. Everywhere we go, these groups of Japanese school kids come up to us, striking up conversation and asking for photos with us. They’re encouraged by their teachers to practice their English by asking us questions about where we’re from and what we like about Japan. Some even leave us with gifts of little paper origami cranes, others actually go out of their way to personally guide us to our destination when we get lost and ask for directions. Also, Rachel found a long lost friend in Kyoto.
Experiencing local cuisine and customary dishes has always been one of my favourite parts of visiting a new country. The food in Japan is hands down some of the best I’ve ever had in my entire life; from sushi that could literally not get any more fresh to world-renowned ramen shops, my tastebuds are blown away every day I’m here. Even the junk food is amazing.
I guess this concludes my adventure in Asia, and I couldn’t think of a better place to do it in. I haven’t felt this way since I first visited Paris (very few things in life trump my love for that city). There’s something about Japan that resonates with me, specifically in Kyoto. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I know I’ll need to come back to figure it out.
Until the next adventure,
< Read Adventures in Asia: Part IV