Friday, May 19, 2006

Kyoto Info

Be prepared to step back in time several hundred years. Remember that 300 years ago, when many of the Temples in Kyoto were striving, there was no United States of America. In the 11th and 12th centuries, when many of the Kyoto Temples were founded, Europe was in the Dark Ages. And some of the Temples date back to the 8th century. We would like you to experience something of what Japanese life was like in the past. We ask you to leave your technology and American lifestyle at home during this journey. We also ask you to experience the Buddhist way of thinking – drop all expectations and do not judge everything with your current lifestyle. We ask you to have an open mind. Avoid making comparisons. Simply experience things for the way they are.

We will be visiting a city named Kyoto 2 syllables: kyo + to, pronounced kyo + toh, (not 3 as in key + oh + toh; or as in Philly, key + oh + doh) just as Tokyo has only 2 syllables , to + kyo, not toh + key + oh! We will be staying in a traditional Japanese country inn called a ryokan. 2 syllables: ryo + kan, pronounced row + con, although that is a Japanese R that has an L sound, and the y is still in there We will be sleeping in a traditional Japanese setting, including rooms with tatami mats and sleeping on futon, cushions on the floor We will be bathing in a traditional Japanese bath called o-furo We will be eating a traditional sukiyaki dinner at the ryokan on the first night Dress in the blue and white robe called ukata, supplied by the Ryokan after bathing in the o-furo Do not come to dinner in your sweat pants, please!

The Shinkensen (Bullet Train) ticket you have will also pay for any other JR Train that takes you to (and from) Shinagawa Station. We will be travelling to Kyoto as a group. Please be at the station before the appointed departure time. It may cost you an extra $100+ if you miss the train. We will be travelling back from Kyoto in groups as well (some on Saturday, some on Sunday). Don’t miss this train either! If you wish to keep you Shinksen ticket as a souvenir, do not put the ticket through the ticket machine at your final destination (it will eat your ticket), but rather, give it to the ticket window person and have them stamp it.

We will eat two Kyoto style dinners nabe at the ryokan (fish or vegetarian meals are optional) tofu variations and fish in the Pontocho restaurant district on a porch overhanging the Kamo-gawa (gawa means river) plus two breakfasts at the ryokan your choice of Japanese or American here you have a chance for familiarity if you are jonesin’ Lunches will happen ‘on the road’ and can include anything from soba at temples (try nishin soba – with marinated herring, or battera – pressed sushi with special saba (mackerel) or other fish matcha – powered green tea (used in the traditional tea ceremony) okonomiyaki – a seafood or meat ‘pancake’ (associated with Hiroshima)

Kyoto Trip 2 Summer Art Workshop
We may also be able to have either of two amazing lunches, one a tofu lunch outside at a Buddhist Garden next to Nanzen-ji,another a Buddhist vegetarian lunch in amazing red bowls at Daitoku-ji. These are optional and will cost about ¥3500. But both are unique experiences and well worth the cost. Please be open minded with the food, as many things will be new to you don’t outthink yourself – just taste it and enjoy it, rather than saying, “Oh I don’t like that” before you have even tried it. try out the philosophy “I’ll try anything twice, because if I didn’t like it the first time I was probably doing it wrong.” Please do say, “I don’t like tofu”.If you have never eaten tofu in Japan, you have not yet tasted it. If you have eaten tofu in Tokyo, you should still try it in Kyoto, it is different. Please refrain from comparing this food with American food. appreciate it for what it is – there is usually no equivalent in America. and please do not embarrass us by ordering ‘Coke with you sushi’ we did not come halfway around the world to eat at McDonalds or drink Starbucks coffee

Japanese tend to bathe in the evening before dinner. They come home from work hot and sweaty. It is nice to return to the ryokan earlier than dinner time and bathe and then come to dinner wearing your ukata (Japanese robe provided by the ryokan). Please follow this procedure on the night we have our Sukiyaki dinner at the ryokan.We will be bathing in a traditional Japanese bath called ofuro Bathing Ettique: sit on a small stool outside of the bathtub and soap yourself up and wash yourself down rinse off by either pouring a bucket with water over yourself, or – with the shower spray (less authentic) You do not wash in the bathtub! then, after you are clean, get into the hot bath sit and relax your muscles for about 5 minutes Don’t be shy – share the bath as Japanese do at the public bath houses. Please don’t say, “Oh, I prefer to take showers rather than a bath”. If you think this way, you are missing the point. Soap and shampoo, and toothbrushes are supplied, as well as towels. Hang your towels on the small drying racks after your bath so they will be dry for use in the morning.

pack light – we will only be gone for three days and two nights and we will have to schlep our bags to and from the train station wear light clothing – it will be hot wear sunscreen if you have sensitive skin wear very supportive running shoes – we will walk for hours non-stop do not wear brand new shoes, a broken in pair will serve you better bring some Band-Aids just in case you develop a blister consider bringing an Ace Bandage just in case you strain an ankle (someone does every year) Kyoto Trip 3 Summer Art Workshop shoe etiquette: outside street shoes should never touch the carpeted floor of the ryokan the surfaces outside are considered very dirty (because they are) and this dirt should not be carried into the home Americans tend to think that feet and socks are disgusting, but the Japanese think the street surface is far worse. red slippers will be provided for all to wear inside the ryokan the red slippers never touch the tatami mats in your bedrooms special slippers live in the toilet rooms and your red slippers should never enter their territory either

cash your travelers checks before you leave for Kyoto. getting money from a bank will take an hour we are budgeted for 4 groups in 4 taxis.If anyone breaks off from their group they will have to pay their own cab fare.

be aware that you are part of a group, and place its needs before your own please stay relatively together to avoid unnecessary delays there is a balance between seeing as many of the interesting sites as possible, and staying at each place long enough to appreciate its beauty and historical relevance be on time don’t stay up too late or drink too much you will be waking up early. Breakfast is at 8AM. Realize that time is irrelevant because you are now living in a time frame that is reverse of your usual life. There is no functional difference between waking up at 7 PM or 9 PM. Do not think, “I cannot wake up early because I am a night person”. Seven hours of sleep should suffice, no matter when it starts or ends. you might want to research the city before we go so you have some idea of what to expect.

ask permission before taking pictures of people say, “Shashin o tote ii desca? pronounced sha + shin + oh + tow + tay + ee + des + ka bow to everyone and say “oki ni”, meaning “thank you” in the Kyoto dialect, pronounced oh + key + nee (all syllables have the same weight) please be quiet and try to talk quietly between yourselves Remember that you represent the United States of America, and Temple University, and your actions reflect on your sensei (teachers). Honor is a big thing in Japan. Have a good time. You will see (and eat) many amazing things in Kyoto! Remember that this is not your summer vacation but part of an educational field trip. Have fun but be responsible. This trip (and the rest of your life) is a matter of balance between discipline and freeness. You have hired us to teach you something, but teaching does not necessarily imply learning – that is your task. Do your job so we can do ours.


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