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The Old Capital of Japan

From: Tiffany Mahala
To: Peggy Grotberg
Date: October 25, 2011

Conference Destination: Kyoto, Japan

About Kyoto
Kyoto was established as the first capital of Japan around 798 when Emperor Kammu moved from nearby Naga because of powerful Buddhist clergymen involvement in the affairs of the Imperial government. Emperor Kammu wanted to be move far away from their influence and selected a small village named Udo to become the new imperial seat. At that time Kyoto was called “Heian-kyo” which means “tranquil and peaceful – capital” but was renamed to the present “Kyoto” (meaning “capital city”) in the eleventh century. It continued to be the capital until 1869 when the imperial court was moved once again, this time to Tokyo. In more recent times, Kyoto was spared from being hit with one of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan, Nagasaki being its replacement. It was also spared from most other bombing making it one of the few cities to still have prewar buildings, though those are being broke down over time.

Travelling There
Travelling to Japan requires crossing the country and crossing the International Date Line. This means the departure time will have to be two days before arrival to accommodate for time differences and to get to the hotel before check-in time. The late afternoon departure from Raleigh will allow for normal sleeping time, while in the air for the longest part of the trip from Atlanta to Seoul. The time on the ground will be minimal compared to the time in the air.

Flight Schedule
Arrival Date: March 19, 2012
Date City/Country Arrival Time Departure Time Flight Time Layover Time Flight #
Mar. 17 Raleigh, NC, USA - 18:30 1h 34m - Delta 1774
Mar. 17 Atlanta, GA, USA 20:04 00:30 15h 15m 4h 26m Korea 34
Mar. 191 Seoul, ROK 04:44 09:35 1h 45m 4h 50m JAL 5210
Mar. 19 Osaka, JPN 11:20 - - -
27h 50m

Departure Date: March 23, 2012
Date City/Country Arrival Time Departure Time Flight Time Layover Time Flight #
Mar. 23 Osaka, JPN - 15:55 2h 5m - Asiana 9113
Mar. 23 Seoul, ROK 18:00 19:25 12h 20m 1h 25m Korea 39
Mar. 222 Chicago, IL, USA 17:45 20:45 1h 55m 3h AA 4241
Mar. 22 Raliegh, NC, USA 23:40 - - -
20h 45m

1 Flight covers “2 days” because of the International Date Line.
2 Crossing back over the International Date Line.
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The Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel in the eastern part of the city is surrounded by a beautiful view of Kyoto and the surrounding hills. It is within walking distance of many temples and beautiful gardens as well as restaurants and entertainment. The hotel itself has six restaurants and one cocktail bar. The rooms have pillow-top king-size beds in what is referred to as their “deluxe room”. Our deluxe room will come with breakfast only.
  • Also included:
    • satellite television
    • refrigerator and coffee/tea makers
    • a small sitting room
    • separate shower and soaking tub
    • the usual sundries (toothbrush set, bath/face towel, and slippers) and yukata3.
Check-in time is 13:00, check-out time, 11:00.

Intinerary (15:00 and beyond)

Kiyomizu-dera [ 清水寺 ]
Sekai World I want the activities of each day to progress in entertainment and dining, so the first full evening will be to stroll around Kyoto just taking in the view of the city. In late March to early April, the cherry and plum blossoms begin to bloom giving the city a lovely hue of pale pink. In the eastern part of the city is one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in Kyoto, Kiyomizu-dera. Kiyomizu-dera sits halfway up Mt. Otowa and offers a beautiful view of the center of Kyoto from a veranda built off the main hall. This veranda is called the Kiyomizu Stage and was made without the use of nails. The grounds are kept in such a way that, no matter the time of year, visitors will always be able to take in a colorful view down the mountain. Below the main hall is a waterfall that is divided into three channels where visitors can catch and drink the water in the hopes to fulfill wishes of love, longevity, or scholarly fortune.

After visiting the shrine, we can make our way back to the hotel and enjoy the many shops and restaurants that the area has to offer.

3 “Yukata” 浴衣 literally means “bathing clothes” or bathrobe, but aren’t strictly used for after-bath wear. They are made of light cotton and may be worn during the summer.
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Gion Corner
Sekai World The plan for day two is to start with a truly Japanese-style meal at Hyotei restaurant. There we will be served a multi-course meal called kaiseki, in a private Japanese-style room. Kaiseki is comparable to Western haute cuisine. Each room faces the inner courtyard which gives a beautiful view to accompany the beautiful meal. Meals can be lengthy at Hyotei so getting there early is essential to assuring that we can enjoy the experience. Afterwards we can take a short trip down to Gion Corner to enjoy traditional Japanese entertainment provided by geiko, maiko4 and other entertainers that perform puppet shows, and play traditional music on the koto and shamisen. Ikebana, the art of flower arranging, and the tea ceremony and dance, are part of the variety of routines performed here nightly. We can watch the last performance of the evening around 19:00 (7pm).

Sekai WorldSekai World
As our trip closes I feel the last day should be spent seeing a bit of nightlife. Sekai World Kyoto offers a wide range of modern entertainment space including lounges and bars in its 5 floors. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available as well as varied Japanese and international dishes. Sekai World is located on the eastern side of central Kyoto.

4 Geiko is the term usually used for geisha from western Japan. They are considered the professional while maiko are apprentices. There are misconceptions that geisha were and still are prostitutes, but in reality they are entertainers highly skilled in many traditional arts. Geiko means “art child” or “child of the arts”. Geisha literally means “art person” and would be interpreted as “artist” in English. Maiko means “dance child” or “dancing girl”.
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Official Kyoto Travel Guide. 21 Oct., 2011
Gion Corner 23 Oct., 2011
Hyotei Restaurant 23 Oct., 2011
Reiber, Beth. Frommer’s Japan. 9th ed. Wiley Publishing, Inc. 2008

I will be honest, I was (and still am) confused about how the flight schedule works. It would be nice if the info provided on the airfare websites included dates of each connection as well as time – especially for international flights.
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