In Japan, students are on Summer Vacation from the end of July to the middle of August.
This break allows many ALTs to take some of their allotted time off and it gives them the opportunity to travel the country. For example this being one of the two months in the year where it’s safe to hike Mount Fuji, many people choose to do that.
I, on the other hand, along with four friends, chose to travel down to Kyoto.
About three months ago, we bought our tickets and up until about a week before we left, everyone’s first comment to me after telling them was ‘eh, atsui desu ne?’ meaning ‘wow, it’s going to be hot, hey?’
About a week before we left, that comment turned into less about how hot it will be and more about the up and coming typhoon. Well, regardless of the typhoon we still decided to go.
As soon as we got to Kyoto, we were assaulted by the unescapable heat, and humidity. But thankfully, that heat only stayed for the Friday when on the Saturday, we couldn’t get away from the torrential downpour.
Wanting to see the sights, and get our money’s worth, we still tried to see as much as we could (regardless of the small rivers pooling on the side of the road). On the Saturday, we saw a temple called ‘Kiyo (pure) Mizu (water) dera (temple)’. There were pools of fresh water, with ladles in them which were meant to wash your hands and drink from on a hot day. Apparently it’s quite refreshing.
On the Sunday, it was probably the worst for rain and wind. We took a city bus to ‘Kinkaku ji (Gold Pavilion)’. The main attraction to this sight is a golden Zen Buddhist temple in the middle of a moat. The temple was burnt down by a novice monk in 1950, but quickly rebuilt.
On Monday, our final day in Kyoto, we visited a ninja house, and opted out of , what I like to call – ‘Monkey Mountain’ (Arashi Yama) expecting the day to be following suit of the weather over the previous days. Well, we were wrong, and instead we listened to a tour about the ninja house’s history while it beamed sunlight down outside. It was really interesting, but I couldn’t help but feel a little let down about the sunny weather.
On Monday night, we returned to Sapporo. We actually followed the typhoon up through Japan, and for the first day back, the weather was reminiscent of the weather back in Kyoto.
Anyways, it was a great first trip outside of Hokkaido. Japanese proverb – Ame (rain) futte (to fall/to rain) ji (earth) katamaru (to harden) – adversity builds character.
Anna Marshall is in Summerland’s sister city of Toyokoro, Japan as the assistant English teacher.