My experience

Old Downtown and Zazen-Zen Meditatiion

Dana and Julie

The candy shop

Dana: The candy shop was one of the highlights of the day for me. It was interesting to see the inside, and to hear the history. I will be visiting there again sometime I'm sure.

Julie: I really enjoyed the candy shop. The building is beautiful, and it feels very special to see the interior of a historical site. Also, the candy would be a perfect souvenir for us -- it's a great variety of very cheap, small, and unique Japanese candy. I plan to go back again sometime.

Tea Ceremony

Dana: The tea was a great chance to try something very traditional, both Julie and I enjoyed it very much. Traditional tea is very different from modern tea, and few foreigners are aware of that, so this would
be an interesting experience.

Julie: It wasn't a ceremony, but it is a simple way to drink tea that will be easy to understand.

Zazen Meditation

Dana: Of course the zazen was my favorite part of the day, it was very interesting, and Julie enjoyed it too. I think Julie represents the "ordinary tourist" more than I do, because she isn't obsessed like me, and yet she very much enjoyed the experience. The backroom of the temple was an unexpected surprise. It seemed like a very special place, and a special opportunity to see this area. And talking to the monk was also interesting. I hope it wasn't too much trouble for him.

Julie: The temple was probably my favorite part of the tour. It would be a great opportunity for many tourists. Most tourists without a local guide would be afraid to go inside, because they don't know if they are allowed. We were very curious, but did not have the chance until the tour. So, just entering the building was very special! Doing the zazen meditation, seeing the back room, and talking with the monk made it an even better experience. I'm sorry that I was so afraid of being hit with the stick. Maybe the monk can ask before meditation if anyone does not want to be hit? That way, he can still hit the people who are okay with it. I also think the conversation over tea was very nice.

General Impression

Dana: I think that Sunday's tour was great, Julie and I both enjoyed it. It was better conducted by the tour guides and gave a glimpse of a more ordinary and "real" Japan.