Today is our last day of sightseeing, and I think it's fair to say that the students are exhausted. As a result, I will take care of writing the last tour day blog post.
Today was another early morning, and even after two weeks students haven't adjusted to being up before seven every day. Somehow we were all able to make it into the bus to our first destination. We went to Heian Jingu, a Shrine in the center of Kyoto. It is notable for its giant torii gate leading into the shrine complex, as well as a wide open interior courtyard. Several notable festivals are held at this shrine every year.
Surrounding the exterior of the main buildings was a series of beautiful gardens you can walk through. The difference between American and Japanese gardens is staggering, and the meticulous landscaping is a wonder. Students were able to freely walk through there, and what was originally planned as a 25 minute side excursion became an hour and a half as they took in the beauty. In the middle of the garden was a large pond, and students spent a strangely long time buying bread-like fish food to feed to the fish.
While at Heian Jingu, it began raining a bit, but fairly quickly stopped. Throughout this trip we have been so lucky, since it's the rainy season, and we've barely seen any rain. However, that short rain let to some rather unpleasant humidity. As a result, by the time we got to our next location, Nanzenji, we all looked like we just ran a marathon. We wandered around there for a bit, before deciding to take a break from old culture and instead go shopping.
At Teramachi shopping arcade, I let the students go on their own to do some souvenir shopping, and I took a much needed rest. What happened during the two hours I gave them, I do not know, but all students returned, arms full of things purchased. From there we crammed all 11 of us into a purikura booth. Think an instant photo booth, but one where you can manipulate the pictures after taking them. It was definitely a different experience for the students.
Our last stop was Kyoto Station, where we had dinner and had our last chance to take in the sights of Kyoto. Tomorrow afternoon we will be leaving to head back to the States. I think I can speak for all 11 of us when I say we are sorry to leave, but so happy for the chance to sleep in.
Heian Jingu and the surrounding garden