A Thousand Twinkling Lights


A few weeks ago, I wrote about the time that we went to Eikanji in Kyoto to view the Autumn leaves. Well the day didn’t end their. After leaving Eikando, just as it started to get dark, we met a couple of other friends, and headed into the city centre. Completely different from the temples that almost surround all of Kyoto, the city centre is full of people, noise and lights. Large parts of the city are shonnenkai, which are like normal streets with shops and resataurants, but covered with a roof. Sort of half way inside and half way out.

This time, we went to a part of Kyoto that I had never been to. We were going to the Kyoto Tower, near Kyoto Station. Standing over 100 meters tall, it pierces the Kyoto skyline, taller than any other building in the city. It’s distinctive shape and bright orange and white colouring make it stand out, an is visible from many other vantage points around the city.
The tower was completed in 1964 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. There is no real purpose for the building except as a tourist attraction. As Kyoto has strict rules on construction, it stands out of the skyline clearly, towering over everything around it. This has cause much controversy, with many people believing it to be too modern for Kyoto, once being called “a stake in the heart of the city”.

960087_10152120833777139_702758106_nKyoto Tower, photo courtesy of Bettina

So up we went to the observation deck. It was a clear night, incredibly clear, a sea of lights around us, ringed by mountains. An orange moon rose above the Kiyomizudera temple. Atop the tower, at all angles are free-to-use telescopes. It was such a clear night, that the feint white glow of the illuminated Osaka Castle, some 25 miles away, could be seen.


Night lights

As long time readers of this blog might be starting to realise, I love views from high places, be it the countryside or the city, night or day. Of course Kyoto Tower was no different. These kind of places are very serene, and I could stare out of the views for hours. Which I often have.

But unfortunately, the peace could not last. As has happened several times to me here in Japan. We were attacked. Attacked by a noisy, moving hoard. Surrounding us, shouting and lights flashing at us. They came out of no where.

They were school kids.4

See, I have a theory about this. School groups will go to some famous tourist site, such as the Kyoto Tower (similar events have happened to me at Kinkakuji and Nara). But it seems these groups are never there to see the sight itself. I believe they are taken to these places with the instructions to find a foreigner, and talk to them in English. We did feel sort of like celebrities, with photos being taken and people asking for autographs.

towerUs and the kids. Photo by Bettina

To see more of my photos from atop the Kyoto Tower, look here.

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