Monday, February 26, 2007

Uji - Tale of Genji

On Saturday I woke up at 7:30 (very early for me) and biked for about 45mins along the river to Kyoto Station. The bike ride was very enjoyable and peaceful. I listen to music and the river and watched old men fishing in the River. I arrived at Kyoto Station and after asking many people where the JR Hachijo-hiashiguchi Entrance was, I finally found the meeting place for the Tale of Genji Tour!

By the way,

The Tale of Genji
is a Japanese book that I am ready that was written 1000 years ago.

I was a little unsure of what to expect form the tour. It was a free tour for foreign residents who want to learn more about Japanese Literature and tourism. We got on a tour bus and headed to Uji. The bus ride was about 30mins long and we were able to watch a documentary movie on the bus about Japanese culture and tradition. So far the tour was pretty good.

We arrive a little behind schedule and had to hurry along. We were handed headsets for us to hear the tour guide and started the walking tour. The main part of the book takes place in Kyoto, while the last chapters take place in the City of Uji. In comparison, Kyoto was busy and a social place, while Uji was a quiet spiritual place.

The Tour included many monuments that were in the book. Here are some pictures of the places.

The Byodoin Temple. This Temple is very beautiful. The design is intended for it to look like a bird in flight. The building included a large gold Buddha, delicately craved wooden statues and statues of birds that are on the money. We also got to go into the Temple's museum and see a lot of the work that had been restored. It was amazing to see all the detail and craftsmanships that went into each peace, especially when you would normally not see it because it is located so faraway from your view.

The Hashihime Shrine and the Uji Shrine

Uji Bridge
The view of the bridge and from the bridge was so beautiful and peaceful. I understand why that came there as a retreat.

Uji-jujo Monument. I believe it is a statue of two characters in the book. I believe it is a mistress of Genji and her mother.

I believe this is the Statue of Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the book.

We also got to have a traditional Tea experience at a tea house, Taiho-an. Uji is is well know for Japanese Tea because of the perfect climate. The Tea experience was amazing and I was able to learn a lot about the process.

Finally we ate at a Japanese restaurant and had a set lunch of Tempura shrimp, soba noodles, a little tiny fish on a stick, very colorful eatable decorations and tea.

All of this for free! I have never been on a real tour before, but I think this tour was probably one of the best.

Afterwards, I stayed for a forum/panel discussion of tourism through the Tale of Genji. It seems like a very strange topic, but I have to say that it was more interesting than I thought. From listening to all the things that relate to the book and Japan, I have appreciated my trip even more. It made me stop and notice cultural differences.

This is a picture of our tour guide. A very funny lady!

I rode back home very happy.


Anonymous said...

What a great way to introduce people to the culture, we could take some lessons here. I'm curious as to where people were from, Europe, US, etc. Bonnie