Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2019
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Fushimi-Inari Taisha (Shrine)

After attending a mathematics education conference in Auckland (my regular annual conference involving mostly Australians and New Zealanders) I headed off to Japan for the four-yearly international statistics education conference. This was my first real visit to Japan (overnighting at an airport hotel en route to somewhere else hardly counts) and, fortuitously, the conference was being held in Kyoto, one of Japan’s most historic and beautiful cities. I had a couple of days free before the conference began, and, after an inauspicious start (exacerbated by the bad weather that had been affecting Kyoto and the surrounding area), in which I was sold a ticket for a train that wasn’t running, I managed to get to the Fushimi-Inari shrine.

This is a very famous destination in Kyoto, so the place was full of tourists despite the rainy weather. I made my way past the larger buildings to the torii, which are pillared arches/gates that go over the path in such profusion that they create a red-orange tunnel; these are the iconic features of the Fushimi-Inari shrine. The hordes of tourists made getting good photos challenging but I managed a few that give the illusion that I had the place to myself.

The full route, which goes to the top of a mountain, was closed because of the inclement weather, and so I decided to do another lap of the torii to try for some additional photos.

This time I took a detour, along a rough track that headed up through a bamboo forest and past another shrine. This area had fewer people, and the bamboo forest, which is harvested, was quite beautiful.

As I was leaving I passed by an amazing collection of origami cranes.

From here, I’d thought I would go and do some work in my hotel room, but the cleaning staff were there, and this fortuitous event led me to have an enjoyable, spontaneous afternoon. I headed off, initially in search of a nearby cache that I found, and then decided to head south to visit the To-ji temple site with its lovely gardens and famous five-storey pagoda (the tallest in Japan).


From here I headed north in search of another cache, but since it got me in the vicinity of the Kyoto Aquarium I decided to go in and spent an enjoyable couple of hours or so viewing the exhibits, including African penguins (a new species for me), ethereal jellyfish, and cute garden eels which pop up out of and back into the sand almost like a cross between a snake-charmed cobra and a meerkat (if my description is useless, just see if you can google some footage and you’ll see what I mean).

In the evening I met up with some of my conference-attending friends and we had the amusing experience of trying to figure out what we were ordering for dinner, generally with successful outcomes, fortunately!

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