Google’s Digital Well Being in Kyoto

Last October I had the chance to visit the magical little fairy tale town Kyoto as part of the Team Pixel India. Along with being ecstatic I was quite proud of myself too for representing India in the Google event with two more content creators.

It was exhilarating and apprehensive at the same time because around 30 Influencers, Bloggers, Youtubers from all over the world were there to mark their presence. The event was organised by Google to promote the Digital Wellbeing feature in Pixel 3 which is very enlightening as it is designed to help you become more responsible while using mobile software and prevent distractions.

Ditching the clichéd five star hotels, we were made to stay in a traditional Japenese Ryokan which was the most quintessential way to enhance our trip manifold. Ryokans are a perfect retreat to relax and rejuvenate, minimalistic tatami mat room, traditional Japanese Futon bedding, helped me to gain an insight and fully immerse myself into the Japanese culture and relate to them even more closely. I had a time of my life in those three days spent in Kyoto and felt like it was too less to explore the awe-inspiring city. The night we arrived we had a gala dinner in which we got introduced to all the influencers present for the event. After which we went to Yasaka shrine. The best time to visit Yasaka shrine is in the evening or at night when it is beautifully illuminated with lanterns.

Our first stop the next day was Kodaiji Garden which features richly decorated interiors and are surrounded by the beautiful Zen gardens. The gardens were lit up during the special illumination show in Autumn which made everything look so surreal.

Our next destination was Entoku-in Temple where we attended a tea ceremony which is a must visit if you are visiting Kyoto. It’s a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea along with sweets. The whole process was not just about the taste but aesthetics as well. The hospitality of the people and magnanimity of the people stole my heart.

An art that I learnt in Kyoto and which will stay with me forever is Soba making. Creating a dough of the correct consistency, rolling it out and slicing it into thin noodle strips using a special soba knife, as fun as it sounds it requires one to be extremely meticulous as well. But the reward which is the lip smacking soba noodles compensates for it! I do not think we achieved the right consistency but learning to cook a new cuisine in a completely new country got us thrilled.

Nishika Market is the ultimate shopping destination and a heaven for every shopaholic! It is a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. It’s busy, constant clamour but pleasant atmosphere is contagious and the whole vibe will consume you. It is packed with local items making for perfect souvenirs. We discovered many vintage stores from where I bought some of my most loved pieces.

We also made it to the Kimono Garden while wandering around the streets of Arashiyama, it is located in Arashiyama station and this place is quite colourful like the Kimonos spotted in the streets of Japan. It houses a very interesting “Pond of Dragon” If you immerse your hands in the water, your heart will be filled with peaceand you will be led to Gioji temple is one of the most popular temple in Arashiyama area. It’s best known for its stunning moss garden and scenic views. The thick moss covers the site in green beautifully and with surrounded trees, they turn the temple to the most pleasant and greenest place on the planet. Gioji Temple is especially spectacular in autumn when the maple trees are turning into red, offering a beautiful contrast of red leaves and green moss. We were told that we did not get to see much of the beautiful changing colours but whatever we saw was splendid in itself.

The same area is also an abode to Bamboo forests. The soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world. It’s one of the most photographed sights in the city. But no picture can capture the feeling of standing in the midst of this sprawling bamboo grove – the whole thing has a palpable sense of otherness that is quite unlike that of any normal forest we know of.

My experience in Kyoto with Google was something I will cherish forever. Hope to go back to Japan soon to make more memories!

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