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Kyoto Trip

While they were staying in Okazaki, the CEI members took a day trip to Kyoto for cultural activities. First, they went to the Yasaka Shrine located in the Gion district on the eastern side of the city. Originally built in 656, this shrine is home to the Gion Matsuri. This festival takes place over the entire month of July. It was originally a religious observance to appease the gods and avoid plagues. Now, it is a festival celebrating the culture of Kyoto.

CEI members and Kumiko-San taking a group photo together in front of the shrine's entrance gate

Next, the members traveled through the Higashiyama District that consists of many narrow pathways between the Yasaka Shrine and the Kiyomizu Temple. This district highlights the historical style of Kyoto from the wooden buildings to traditional shops. 

CEI members posing in front of the Yasaka Pagoda

Then, the members visited the Kiyomizu Temple. Founded in 780, this temple is surrounded by wooded hills and provides a great view of Kyoto from its wooden terrace. The temple's name translate to pure water, which comes from the pure water that flows from the Otowa waterfall at the temple. 

After visiting the temple, the members went to Otabe Honkan, a shop specializing in yatsuhashi. Yatsuhashi is a type of sweet made with bean paste and is Kyoto's most famous delicacy. The members participated in the lesson offered there and learned how to make this triangular confection. First, the dough that is made from rice flour is prepared by the instructors. Then, members flattened the dough with a rolling pin. They made three different flavors of the yatsuhashi by sprinkling different powders: original, matcha, and cinnamon. Next, they kneaded the dough to distribute the powder throughout the whole dough. After flattening the dough again, they cut the dough into squares. Finally, the dough was filled with bean paste and folded into triangles. 

Luis showing his perfectly made yatsuhashi

After making the sweets, the members went to the Fushimi Shrine, which is famous for its torii gates.These gates are vermilion in color and mark the entrance to the shrine. This shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Many statues of foxes can be found here because they are believed to be messengers for Inari. The shrine features many trails surrounded by the torii gates that lead into the forest of Mount Inari.

Trail of Mount Inari surrounded by torii gates

Kyoto was once the capital of Japan for over a thousand years. Now it remains as the cultural and historical heart of Japan. This city is filled with many traditional Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, imperial palaces, Japanese gardens, Japanese inns, and shops.