What a day! We started off by visiting Nijo castle. It was Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's Kyoto residence. The surrounding garden was breathtaking. I can't even do it justice if I try to describe it. The castle itself was really cool. The Shogun's security system was pretty awesome. The floors deliberately make noise when you walk on them. They're call nightingale floors because they squeak like birds. it actually works surprisingly well.
The Heian shrine was also a highlight. The garden was gorgeous. Each sectioned was a picturesque backdrop for a samurai movie. We felt like we were walking through a video game.
The most amazing part of the day was getting to sit in at an Iaido class in this giant budo hall attached to the Heian shrine. The sensei was incredible. He also gave us a quick sword lesson and even let Steve hold his sword! A local Japanese man who was translating for us told us what a rare honor this was. The sensei and all of his students were very friendly, but also very skilled and deadly. They wielded the swords as if they were weightless. It was beautiful to watch.
We're having no trouble getting around or communicating. The people here are very friendly. We were also lucky to have good weather all day.
There are lots of Tsunami warnings on the news, but think that's going to be hitting Kyoto, so there's no need to worry for the time being.
We're off to a sit on the floor kaiseki dinner now. I'll write again when I can,