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Today we merged with a few of the thousands of Chinese tourists who come to Kyoto to view the cherry blossoms. There are droves of Chinese tourists who flock here eager to shop and have fun. Young Chinese women dress up in brightly colored garish kimono, taking advantage of dozens of kimono rental businesses that have sprung up recently. These try-on opportunities are not regarded kindly by many Japanese, because,in their opinion, it cheapens and demeans the refined beauty of the kimono. I’ve noted that the women seem quite pleased with their transformation, snapping selfies and obviously oblivious to their host nation’s opinion of the practice. kimono rental

The Nishiki Market

Japanese manners place a great emphasis on “ikkai ichi dousa,” a phrase similar to “one thing at a time.” So eating while walking is seen as impolite. Also, in sacred places such as temples and shrines eating and drinking is considered to show a lack of common sense and bad manners.Apr 7, 2016
Things to Remember When Eating Outdoors in Japan – WOW! JAPAN

The Nishiki Market, a 400 year old covered food market selling the ultimate in fresh Kyoto food products is quickly transforming to cater to tourist tastes by selling more food that can be eaten while strolling, a no – no activity in polite Japan. Several long time food vendors have left the market, and I fear that the changes are irreversible. The market is going from a serious shopping area for locals to a place thronged with browsing tourists, only interested in where to get the next matcha soft serve  ice cream cone, souvenir or skewered octopus. Now, if you’re seriously shopping for your dinner, you’ll have a challenging time just walking through the narrow arcade.  It’s the double edged sword of tourism.

The Sagano Romantic Train


This trip we are traveling with my daughter and her family. We decided that it would be a fun outing for all to take an old train, called the Sagano Romantic Train from Arashiyama through a scenic gorge. I’m not sure about the accuracy of  the Romantic nomenclature, other than as a marketing tool.  It’s been successful!  From the moment we left Kyoto station, it was standing room only, as we joined the hundreds of other tourists who’d decided to do the same thing.  On the Sagano Romantic portion of the trip, thankfully we had reserved seats.

Truth be told, it was a fun, if brief 25 minute ride through the scenic canyon and the not so scenic tunnels through the mountains. Visitors snapped  hundreds of photos of the river flowing below the tracks, myself included, as if we’d never seen a river! Hey, when in Rome….

If you so choose, you can take a 2 hour boat ride back to Arashiyama

Armed with an adorable cup of matcha ice cream, I was more than happy to travel along.  I tried unsuccessfully to start a group sing of “Down by the Station,” which would have truly been unforgettable.  I think the Chinese would have loved it, although next time I’ll come prepared to pass out sheet music. On the other hand, it’s probably best that I didn’t embarrass and horrify my grandkids. 

The immaculately  attired and self composed  car attendant kept up an almost constant monologue in Japanese about something she seemed intent on teaching us ( I am guessing it was about the river) although I am sure no one in our car understood a word she was saying.  No matter, I enjoyed watching her talking to no one and not caring.  She took her job very seriously.


We disembarked in a small town at the end point of the gorge.  A vendor’s truck selling sweet potatoes met the train.  No matter that the sweet potatoes are generally an autumn treat.  The truck itself was a piece of folk art.

We were all ready to return to Kyoto in time for lunch, but all happy we’d digressed onto the Tourist Route for just a bit.




Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • dbsite33 says:

    Love the music in the video!! Brava Dianne for photos and the video and the posts!!

  • Linda Mason says:

    We took the train from Tokyo to Kamakura to see the big Buddha. It was an old wooden train filled with Japanese families going down to see the hydrangas which were displayed in a shrine there. Very special day filled with kindnesses and friendliness from the locals.
    Its a surfing town too. We had lunch at Bergfelds, a little cafe set down the back alleys, which in itself was fascinating.

  • Judi Miller Wallner says:

    Loved seeing the video and a glimpse of your beautiful girls and Bino dancing…great! Always love also to hear about the cultural differences and traditions. We’re off on Thursday to see Larry’s brother and sister in law in Asheville, NC. Just home from Marfa which we loved and Santa Fe which is always wonderful. We absolutely will catch up one of these days. I promise!
    Love to all Judi

  • Mark dendy says:

    Breathtaking pictures of the river. Like a Japanese painting come to life! Bino made a great choice! Sad that some of the customs aren’t being respected by the tourists xo m

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