1 Jul 2019

Postcard from Kyoto: The day summer started

July has arrived and with it the realisation that summer is finally upon us! But do you know the exact day when summer started this year? 

Well, it was June 11th!

How do I know that? Well, we have just returned from a holiday in Kyoto Japan, and feel invigorated by long walks and beautiful scenery. At the start of our holiday, on Monday 10th June to be exact, we were walking up a mountain and stopped by one of the ubiquitous vending machines (called jidohanbaiki) about half-way along our hike. We purchased a can of hot, sweet coffee and rested our legs for a delicious 10 minutes before setting off again.

The next day on a similar walk around a temple complex we again paused by one of these machines only to see every drink offered as a cold beverage. We walked on to the next set of machines, but they also only had cold drinks. 

Then it clicked: summer had started. You don't drink hot coffee in the summer...

They have a neat way of counting time periods in Japan with blocks of 10 days having different names. The middle 10-day period runs from 11th-20th of each month and is called chÅ«jun or middle-ten. So summer very neatly started in the middle of June or on the 11th June to be precise!

We used to live in Kyoto in the mid-1990's and love to revisit whenever we can. This year we arrived at the start of what is termed the "Rainy Season" but were very fortunate only to have a couple of showers while we were there. 

One of the main reasons for wanting to go back to Japan at this time was to see the hydrangeas. Many people visit Kyoto for the cherry blossoms in April and May, but for me the sight of a hillside of deep blue hydrangeas is stunning. They are everywhere, and not just in blue but in all shades of white, pink and carmine red as well. They seem to really suit this rainy time of year and look at their most beautiful when the leaves and flowers are jewelled with raindrops. 

But the real summer in Japan starts with the coming of the lotus flowers at the start of July. When we visited there were lotus buds and even some early flowers in sheltered locations. However, we would have needed to stay another few weeks to see the ponds and lakes filled with blossoms. Perhaps we'll do that next year...

In the last week of our visit, we went to a temple called Hokongo-in which is known for its beautiful lotus flowers. We were rewarded by a beautiful display of early flowers contrasting against the dark wood of the temple buildings.

I sat on the temple steps and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the garden, knitting a pink cardigan in what I saw was an almost exact colour match to the lotus flower in front of me. I could have happily stayed there all afternoon...

However we were due to go to Fushimi Inari shrine, world-famous for its lines of bright orange torii gates. It was the end of the afternoon when we got there and Tim's camera was set to a long exposure to capture the scene. Then a lady wearing a kimono walked down the steps and into his shot creating a dreamy image of old Japan.

I hope you've enjoyed this "Postcard from Kyoto" and some of Tim's many photos from our trip. If you would like to see more of his work, then please see his Flickr site. He is also on Instagram here.

I'll be back with knitting chat next time. Until then,

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Slip those stitches!

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