“In Kyoto …”

“In Kyoto …” by Basho

In Kyoto,

hearing the cuckoo

I long for Kyoto

So far Kyoto has been the favorite city that I have visited (although I’ve only been on the road for seven weeks). It’s way less intense than Tokyo, mixing the modern and the traditional seamlessly into a city of shrines and quaint shops.

Here’s some of what we did in Kyoto:

Japanese Calligraphy lesson

Building miniature Zen Gardens

Zen garden


Sushi making


Origami class


Dressing up as Meikos (Stacia and Annika…. a Meiko is a Geisha in training)


Visiting Shrines (see a previous post), older areas, and temples

If I ever have the opportunity to visit Japan again, Kyoto will be my first stop.

Next stop: Hiroshima

Student Work: Arashiyama Monkey Park

We visited the Arahiyama Monkey Park.

The following day each student was asked to create a project based on their visit to the park. All three loved doing this assignment as is was a well deserved break from writing the standard 5-paragraph essay.

Annika produced a brochure including a map, directions to the park, a don’t do this list, and schedule of fees. Alexander produced a graphic novel of his experience and Nicholas made a photography exhibit.



Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 8.09.47 AM



Today we headed to the Ryoguku Kokugikan to watch the Grand Sumo Tournament. In the middle of the arena was the dohyo (the Sumo wrestling ring) where we watched the intermediate division and senior division Sumo wrestlers battle. The wrestlers typically weighed in the 200 to the 300-pound range but a few tipped the 400-pound mark.

The entire sport is ritualized from the entrance march in, the pre-fight rituals (salt throwing, bowing, leg stomping, belly smacking, etc), post-fight rituals, etc.

Matches are very quick rarely lasting more than 20 seconds. The Sumo wrestlers initially hit each other with over two tons of force. A wrestler losses a match if he is pushed out of the ring or if any part of his body, except the soles of his feet, touch the floor. There are over 80 different types of Sumo wrestling moves but typically only 14 are types of moves are commonly used.

No gloating over a win. No victory antics. No strutting. No sore losers. Honor is key.

The referee wears a knife in case he makes a bad call. If he does make a bad call he is supposed to commit suicide. (Perhaps a new NFL rule?)

The Japanese take this sport very seriously and are uncharacteristically animated during the bouts.

The final bout was a top-ranked Sumo wrestler (called a Yokozuna… a very rare title…there were only two at this event) and a lower ranked Sumo wrestler. The lower ranked wrestler won so it is traditional to toss your seat pads into the ring. The winner of this final and most prestigious bout has the honor of performing a special ceremony