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Miss Tadey’s Favorite Picture

September 9, 2013

This summer we asked each of the TAP teachers to look back at their photo albums and pick one picture that was their all-time favorite from any of their TAP trips.  That was a tough task for some of us, but Miss Tadey managed to find one – that wasn’t just a cool picture, but also a fantastic memory, and an amazing moment during our trip to Japan.  I guess those memories to cherish those moments are the reason we all bring cameras on our adventure.

Japan Castle Grounds

The grounds surrounding Nijo Castle in Kyoto, Japan.

Picture taken June 19, 2012 when we were in the city of Kyoto. Coincidentally, Kyoto was  the capital of Japan, “Kyo To” until Tokyo took the title and they flipped the word “To Kyo” Although, I can’t find confirmation of this fact, maybe I made it up.

This picture is of Nijo Castle and the surrounding garden. The castle belonged (and was built by) Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603. Ieyasu was the first shogun of Japan and he unified the entire country. 
I love this picture because Ieyasu’s influence permeated the entire country and could be seen everywhere we went. I also found this garden to be incredibly beautiful and peaceful. The water in Japanese gardens represents the ephemeral nature of life and I thought that was an interesting juxtaposition with the age of this beautiful castle. The interior of the castle was also a feast for the senses. Visually, there was so much space and so many clean lines and the simplistic beauty of the art/ink drawings matched the calm, peaceful absence of noise. It wasn’t silent, by any means but there wasn’t extraneous noise. The floors creaked beautifully as we walked, sounding like crickets or birds chirping. This creaking wasn’t old floors that needed to be oiled – t was a warning system for the Shogun in case enemies managed to breach the castle defenses, any invading forces would be making these creaky noises as they walked through the castle – they wouldn’t realized the creaking was an alarm of sorts, but anyone inside the castle would know that someone who didn’t belong had gotten inside.
Minooka students peeking underneath Nijo Castle to see how the creaking floorboards work.

Minooka students peeking underneath Nijo Castle to see how the creaking floorboards work.

Outside, we were able to look underneath the castle and see how the floors moved and were interlinked. I also remember the smell was clean and fresh, like a forest but without having a musty scent. Everything felt so smooth, especially the floors, which were the original wood from the 1600s.  We all had to take our shoes off and walk around the castle in our socks, and almost our whole group was trying to “skate” around, pretending to be an invading army trying to be silent.  
I think I also like this moment because it exemplified the image of Japan I had in my head. Obviously, I was so jazzed about this trip. Traveling to Japan had always been a dream and this place for me fit my ideal and made the dream real. It was so much bigger than I had imagined and fueled my excitement and curiosity. I love that travel can do that and it was so amazing to see the kids become enveloped in the culture and history of Japan. Everyone took away something different but I am sure that everyone left with a lasting impression.
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