Our last part of the trip was a visit to Kyoto, the country's old capital city. Kyoto is full of temples and beautiful gardens, so we spent most of our time touring some of those. Below are pictures of the Golden Pavilion, a bamboo grove, and Ginkaku-Ji (translated the Silver Pavilion). The temples were architecturally appealing yet held little value to me as they, in my eyes, were just empty buildings. I really enjoyed the tranquil gardens surrounding the temples. Japan is full of beautiful flowers and vegetation . Everywhere you looked, you would see flowers-from the temple gardens to the countryside to the pots outside of a residential doorstep.
One thing Tim and I found quite charming was the groups of junior high students in their school uniforms touring the city. You would see groups of four or five students everywhere without adults or teachers. Many students during their middle school years take class field trips to the city. Despite the adult supervision, they all seemed to be doing what they came there to do: learn more about their country's culture and history. We had several groups timidly approach us with their open books in front of them. Part of their assignment was to "interview" English speakers since they start learning English in junior high. They would slowly read the questions in English to us and look at us in anticipation as they awaited our answers. They were just so adorable. Then, they would always want to take a picture with us.
Our five days in Japan went by very quickly, and I had mixed feelings when the week came to an end. I was so ready to come home and see my children, yet it had been a really neat week. I was very thankful for the opportunity. I find it very interesting learning about other cultures, and it is always a good experience to find yourself as the minority and learn how that position feels.