The benign expression is what floored me. The souvenir porcelain called “Shigaraki Yaki Tanuki’ good luck charm which I found in souvenir shops on way to Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kyoto. A bearer of Eight lucky omens, the hat is for protection from unexpected disasters, the smiling face for affability, the big bold eyes for seeing the world for what it is and the big belly for being bold. No wonder I saw a larger version in a Japanese restaurant in Houston, Texas, USA.
‘ Another luminous example of antiquity is the Golden Pavilion or Kinkauji from the period when there were no cameras to capture its golden glory reflected in the still waters of the Magic Pond or Kyoko-chi. The tourist pictures do little justice to the real structure and a visitor can just gawk at the play of colors, burnt amber, fiery reds, vivid yellows, amidst the surrounding foliage of Kinugasa-yama Mountains in the background. The eight different sized islands or famous rocks in the Pond personify the Buddhist scriptures ‘Land of Happiness’ and for the harried visitor a natural stress buster. Hayashi Yoken, a recalcitrant monk, had burnt down the Pavilion in 1950 and the present Golden Pavilion is a replica of the original, with extra gold added to the two floors.
I walked around the Japanese Garden, retained in its original form, with natural springs, moss gardens, waterfalls and bridges, the Dadoniji Stones, try plunking coins in the stone bowls for luck, the Sekka-tei tea house and the Fudo Myo, a mini temple in honor of the god of fire and wisdom. The bushes around the temple, ornamented with tiny pieces of paper containing wish-fulfillment messages, are the links between past and present.’
The white snooty-nosed train whizzed past and in minutes was a blur. This was the 700 series of Shinkasen on its run between Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Hakata.
I have done it all from steam and diesal locomotives in India, the deluxe luxury trains of China, Amtrak in the USA and the various short distance subway systems in different countries.
Biting the Bullet was going to top the list. The very idea of speeding past at 170 miles per hour was intimidating but once inside it was smooth ride. We covered Hiroshima to Kyoto in two and half hours in time for lunch.
Bento lunch boxes are available in the train or you can purchase on stations and passengers availed of the services.
Shinkasens or ‘New Trunk Line’ was introduced in Japan in 1964 before the Tokyo Olympics and today connect major Japanese cities.
The Shinkasen train rides were courtesy JNTO, 2010, from Hiroshima to Kyoto and from Kyoto (JR Kyoto station) to Odawara.