After our sojourn in Tokyo, we proceeded to run along the length of Honshu (the Japanese mainland) again, this time with Shawn in tow. We were excited to revisit our favourite places and see some new ones along the way. We weren’t so excited that we were willing to get out of bed early, though — we left our hostel in Tokyo around noon.
While Kat and I were harassing the local wildlife in Kyoto, Amelia headed to Tokyo to meet up with our friend Shawn (also known as “Naka” [or “T-Nak”, though only I call him that]). Unlike your reliable blogger, Amelia is given to gross exaggerations, and so I can only hope to separate truth from fiction in her account of what transpired.
The tale of our Japan adventure is less than half-done, so let’s get cracking! We travelled down from the mountaintop and made our way back to our hostel in Kyoto. Still possessed with a unslakable thirst for temples, we made our way to Kiyomizu-Dera. On the way, we passed by Wakamiya Hachimangu, also known as the “Pottery Shrine” — an annual pottery festival is held nearby (though, sadly, not at the time we were passing by).
[Editor’s Note: It has been three years since we visited Koyasan. This is an unusually long delay, even by my standards. This online journal would not be complete without this story, which stands out in my mind as the most memorable experience of all of our travels. I might not get to the rest of our trip, but I can rest easy now that I have shared this special part.]
Our next destination in Japan was a special one. Kat had done her research and learned about Mt. Koya, a mountain range just south of Osaka that is host to over a hundred temples. It’s also the centre of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, so it’s a pretty big deal.
It has been a while since my last update – and for good reason! The last year has been quite busy, and has gotten in the way of my already-irregular blogging habits.
Most of the last year has involved work, which is to be expected. If you’re reading these words, you likely already know that I graduated from law school last year, and thereafter began a year-long process called “articling” (or, because this is a custom with British origins and must therefore be referred to with several slightly-different terms, “articles”). It’s basically a one-year apprenticeship at a law firm, interspersed with coursework and the Bar exams. I took the exams right away, so they’re now a distant and mildly unpleasant memory.
On our second full day in Japan, we put our JR passes to good use and took a day trip to Hiroshima. Now, the most common question that I get about Hiroshima is “how do you say ‘Hiroshima’?” It may surprise you to find out that one does not need to actually visit Hiroshima to answer this question – there are resources one can consult. Still, in case you’re curious, it is roughly pronounced “Hee-roe-shee-mah” (not “Heer-aw-shim-ah”).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what we did that day.
I have a confession to make: This post does not begin in Osaka. It begins in Tokyo. If that concerns you, do not fret; I will get to Osaka soon enough.
We flew in to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport on an evening flight via Beijing. Haneda was more-or-less like every other airport that we’ve passed through these last two months. The biggest difference was that there was less English than we were had encountered in Chinese airports, which was a little surprising. Oh, and also the airport bathrooms came with educational diagrams and required a technical degree to operate.