There was one thing Sister and I wanted to do more than anything while we were in Japan and that was to have dinner with a Geiko, a trained entertainer. Not only were we able to have dinner with a Geiko (now retired) we were also able to have dinner with a Meiko, an apprentice Geiko. The whole event was organised by Gion Hatanaka, a Ryokan in Kyoto and while it is pricey (roughly £100 per person) it is something sister and I will never do again – an experience of a lifetime, an insight into a culture very different from our own. The price includes all food and alcohol plus impeccable service.
My love for Japan hasn’t diminished even if my epic trip to Japan was a while ago so when the Excel Centre in London played host the incredible annual event that is Hyper Japan, Sister and I had to go. We had tickets for the Sunday event and from what I had heard of past events the queue is really long and that we should be prepared to wait for a while before we can actually get in. So we made our way to Excel knowing and accepting this fact. We were armed with bottles of water and patience. However when we turned up there at just after 10 in the morning (the day began at 10am) we saw no queue, no line of people and walked straight in.
Osaka-jo (Osaka Castle) was the highlight of the few days we spent in this city and it was where we went to last before travelling back home. In comparison to Tokyo and Kyoto it didn’t have as much to sell itself but there was one of the most impressive castles I had ever seen.
Place of Scenic Beauty (this is a thing) and nationally-designated Historic site, Arashiyama is the bamboo forest where House of Flying Daggers was filmed. At least this is what I thought until I came back from Japan and someone told me it was actually filmed in China. This is just a little hiccup in my belief that I was in one of the most beautiful film locations ever.
Of course film location or not, a bamboo forest is unlike any forest I have ever been too. Everything is tall and straight and when the wind blows everything sings.