Last bit of tourism after some business, and the next few days will be at Uji tea farms. Whew! Ready to get out of the city.
Nijo Castle has by far the most tourists. Built in the 1600's by the first Tokugawa Shogun, it was the epitome of Shogunate power and the very halls and paintings reflect the hidden gleam of the swords. Or maybe I have just watched way too many samurai movies in my life, as well as historical epics about Ieyasu, Yoshinobu, etc. The flooring of the main halls where the feudal lords were received was called the nightingale walk, which meant that the floors creaked loudly on purpose, so even lightfooted ninjas can not sneak up without warning. Guess I shouldn't change out my squeaky wooden floors at home then. The palace had a moat, as palaces should, and even the garden lacked relaxation or glamour. Nijo Castle felt extremely functional and powerful, far from the floating world of Gion and Geishas, far from the serene Zen temple gardens. This was a place where they anticipated assasinations and katanas crossing at any moment, not the glamourous incense filled red and gold luxurious rooms of the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. The emperors there seem lazy compared to the Shoguns! Indeed, Kyoto, as an ancient capitol, feels classier and less snobby than Beijing. And stronger, less precarious, and for god's sake, it's not in a sand bowl next to the Great Wall! And they drink the very best tea in Japan, Uji Sencha, unlike Jasmine tea in Beijing. Have I already mentioned this part about Jasmine tea in Beijing? I thought I'd mention it again as it is unforgivable.