D4 – Kyoto Exchange – Day Off

Sunday was the day the students spent off with their host families. Some went to Universal Studios, some went downtown in Kyoto to shop, others went out into the countryside to see what is outside of the city, and others went in search of specific items they wanted to take home. Mr. Kuromiya asked what I wanted to do for this day. I love to hike, so I asked if we could do something that involved hiking.

What he suggested was a trip up to the Yoshiminedera Temple, also known as the “Pine Tree Temple Matsu-no-tera”. This is up in the mountains above Kyoto.

The central attraction of this temple is a tree that was designated a national monument in 1932. The tree is over 600 years old. The pine tree is 52 meters long/tall. It is a highly unusual tree that has grown horizontally to the ground and is supported by a wood lattice frame. Think of a short three with an extremely long branch and you will get the idea. The name of the tree is “Yuryo” or “Playing Dragon”. Here is the base of the tree.

And here is a picture of the main part of the tree going across this courtyard.

And over the entrance to the courtyard.

In addition to this tree, there’s a lot more to see on this mountain side temple. The view from up here of Kyoto is stunning. There was a bit of haze in the air this day, but you could still make out all the major landmarks and areas of Kyoto below.

After we left Yoshiminedera Temple we had a quick lunch at a noodle place, then Mr. Kuromiya dropped me off at a teacher’s house where I was going to spend the night. Mr. Kuramiya wanted me to experience a host family, if only for a night, while I was on this first trip to Kyoto.

After arriving at my host family I was told the father would be home soon, and that he was going to take me out around Kyoto to see some of the smaller temples. His wife and granddaughter would be going with us while their daughter prepared a dinner for us and the family. I lost track of all the temples we visited on this afternoon, so I will just post some of my pictures here.

And here’s a picture I snapped between temples of two cars passing on the road (yikes!).


I was amazed at the granddaughter’s patience while we were touring the temples. We took a break and stopped for ice cream at a small place. I had my first Green Tea Float while the granddaughter had an ice cream sundae.

We had time to visit one more temple before having to head home for a big family dinner.

My host family was very kind. They took me into their home and brought their three children and their grandchildren over for a dinner. The daughter who lived with them was studying to be a cook. She made a wide variety of traditional Japanese foods. I made a few mistakes in eating some of the foods, and got some giggles from the children. But overall it went very well and was absolutely delicious. We had some good conversations over dinner and into the evening. I thank them for their hospitality and for taking me around to temples I would not have visited on my own. I was unfortunately only able to stay with them for a single night, as I had a bad reaction to their cat (I am allergic to cats).  I felt terrible having to leave them.


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