As much as Kyoto is so well known for festivals, it also has a reputation for being an `oven` in the summer but fortunately there are some refreshing solutions nearby. Last weekend after taking in the Gion Matsuri event, Alex, who was visiting from Nara with news of just opening a new Smiths school there, and myself went for a splash in the Katsura River upstream from Arashiyama. Soon after we were joined by a group of river rafters. I had flashbacks to a beer commercial with offerings from river rafting bikini girls but nontheless they were a fun group. Frequently I go hiking in this area and at the end of the month will participate in the Mt. Atago festival – the highest point around Kyoto city. Packs of people make the trek with some carrying their kids to the shrine at the top which supposedly brings good luck, probably along with blisters and backaches. Last year I had a late start after work and got back well after midnight, followed by a jump in the river, trust me….you`ll need it!
The other photo is a recent outing to cheer on the Kyoto soccer team, Purple Sanga. Summer games begin in the evenings, which thankfully provides a cooler breeze for the fans up in the stands. Games are conveniently held at the sports facility next to the neighboring station. I try to arrive early and hand out some flyers before kick-off. People are in good spirits, enjoying there leisure time so often stop to talk and inquire about my school. I wish could have been at the airport to welcome home and congratulate the women`s world cup champions! Next up, a gold medal in London??