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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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(continuation of a multi-part Blathering which begins here)

Thursday, September 6th, 2001 (continued)

After lunch, we set off for Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Temple), one of Japan's best-known and most-photographed sights. The original building was constructed in 1397 as a shogun's retirement villa, but an unhappy monk burned the whole thing to the ground. The temple was reconstructed in 1955.

After we figured out which bus to get on and when to pay for our ticket (you pay as you exit the bus), an Asian-looking couple also boarded the bus. They looked a bit confused, obviously searching for something, and then asked Jeff in English where to get tickets. Jeff answered, and as friendly conversation ensued, it turned out that the couple was visiting from Korea for the husband's physics conference.

It was a fun moment, meeting another English-speaking couple whose native tongue was NOT English. They were super-nice. We parted ways when we reached the temple, but ran into them a few times later on.

The second and third floor of Kinkaju-ji is covered with gold leaf on Japanese laquer, making quite a striking scene in the sunshine....I'm not surprised it's such a popular tourist attraction.

There were a ton of schoolchildren there, and of course that's where I met the three schoolgirls who interviewed me for a school project.

Next, we walked to Ryoan-ji. This temple belongs to a Zen school and was founded in 1450. Jeff and I only had about half an hour, so we beelined it for the main attraction, which was the zen garden (kare-sansui, or dry landscape). I have to say that although the rocks and the raked sand made a pretty scene, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about (Debbie cringes as Zen-types jump on her). The rest of the grounds were GORGEOUS, with weeping willows draped over scenic ponds, cranes, flowers, beautifully kept gardens.I really wish we had more time here. Anyone planning to visit Ryoan-ji should definitely allocate at least a half day to wander the gardens and pond.

Jeff and I have decided that we have to come back to Japan someday, hopefully within the next five years or so. We'll be better prepared, and both of us plan to study the language. I also plan to learn how to read well enough to be more useful in terms of navigation and reading tourist signs.

Next: sukiyaki and traditional Japanese tea ceremony!

Today's Blatherpics:

- Photo taken by the nice Korean couple we met on the way to Kinkaku-ji.

- Chic girl we encountered on our walk.

- Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Shrine)

- Another photo of Jeff and me with the schoolgirls who interviewed me.

- Sign outside the public washroom.

Today's Poll:

Are you friends (with regular contact) with anyone whose main language is not the same as your own?

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