Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Honshu and Kyushu Vacation Report, Part 3: A Baby Church and Old Japan (Fukuoka, Kyoto, Hakone, and Inuyama)

After we left Unzen, we visited our aforementioned friend, Stephanie in Fukuoka. We had gone to language school together until she graduated in March. Stephanie works with a team of Pioneers missionaries who recently started a church plant in Fukuoka in partnership with a Japanese pastor and some local believers. We went to church together and saw some of the sights of Fukuoka.

Eating lunch after church in Fukuoka

Visiting the ruins of Fukuoka Castle

Fukuoka Tower

We visited a small island where we turned over rocks on the beach and did other such things.

We headed to Kyoto next, having heard rave reviews from various people. Kyoto is indeed beautiful… but it’s probably the only place we visited where we don’t think we would want to live. Even if we lived in Kyoto for 20 years, we would still be treated like tourists… since there are a lot of tourists there.

Kyoto is sometimes known as the spiritual center of Japan; within the city there are hundreds of shrines and temples. We visited a number of shrines and temples; the grounds were beautifully kept, especially at the temples nestled into the tree-covered hillside.

At one of the temples, we stumbled upon some kind of ceremony, which we watched for a while. I chatted with some of the participants (several Buddhist nuns) in the public bath later that evening back at our hotel.

The food in Kyoto was particularly enjoyable; given the large number of Buddhists in the city, tofu and vegetable dishes were specialties.

Take note how far out into the street this geisha is standing--to keep the tourists from thrusting their cameras in her face.

 Enjoying some cold soba between temples

We spent the next several days in the Hakone region, trying to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. We didn’t; it was too cloudy. Instead, we enjoyed looking at big trees.

Our last stop before we returned to Tokyo was Inuyama, where we met up with another person named Yuka, whom we also met in Vancouver. We saw the oldest castle in Japan, cooked tonkatsu together, and generally enjoyed chatting with Yuka and her mom and sister. We also learned about how an average Japanese family practices Shinto and Buddhism.

Inuyama Castle

Keith flips the tonkatsu...

On a whim, we made fried okra too!

And then back to Tokyo… and our Japanese vacation ended, along with our short term mission.

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