Day 5 – Kyoto

After breakfast we started our bus trip to Nijo-Jo Castle which is one of the last remaining structures from the Tokugawa era. The castle was home to all 15 Shoguns over the ages who were the commanding chiefs of Japanese forces, often seen as having more power than the emperor
As we entered the castle we were greeted with a huge wooden and golden gate with overly detailed carvings. Once inside the Shoguns home we took off our shoes and started our walk throughout his house. The most prominent feature of the house were the Nightingale Floorboards which “sing” when anyone steps on them, we found out that the point of these were to alert the Shogun and his guards if an intruder was near.
We continued to explore the Gardens and grounds of the castle as more buildings and cherry blossoms appeared. The attention to detail throughout the castle and it’s gardens was unparalleled.
Our group left the castle and decided to go to a samurai shop down the road with an assortment of traditional Japanese weapons ,some boys in the group purchased large swords and ninja stars $$$$ thus taking a gamble on the strength of Australian customs.

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After the castle we went to Kinkaku (The Golden Pavilion), which was originally named Rokuon-ji Temple. We spent 45 minutes walking around the temple admiring¬†the beautiful gardens and surroundings. The temple was built in the 14th century and the main attraction of the temple is that the top two levels were covered in gold leaf. It is registered as a world cultural heritage site. Some of the boys tried some local food inside the site as well. It was one of the best temples we have seen ¬†and I’m pretty sure the boys will never forget it.

As our challenge for the day we all had to write a Hiku, a short Japanese poem about an aspect of the tour. Chris Icanovski won with this dedication to his room mate Sam Maley as voted by the all the players.

Beware of the hair
He is exceptionally slow
And can’t catch or pass

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After visiting the golden temple, the opportunity came for us to spend our money shopping in an array of shops located in the Kyoto precinct. The shops ranged from clothing stores, souvenir shops, shoe stores and food stores. The vintage clothing stores were popular among the boys with big name brands and cheap prices. It was a struggle finding our way back through the maze of arcades but definitely worth it as we arrived back at the bus with our hands full with shopping bags. After a relaxed day we returned to the hotel with a tasty and nourishing traditional Chinese dinner waiting for us.

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