I went to Kyoto for interviews when the cherry blossoms there were almost finished. White and pink danced gently in the air, as if every breeze brought along a perfume shower. In fact, I doubted whether Kyoto was a nice environment for IR research, as it bore too much with the past which rendered current issues tiny sparkles in the long river of history.
Interviews were conducted in Doshisha University and Kyoto University, both of which were located near tourist attractions but remained somewhat isolated from the rustles. I felt a little bit weird to talk about threats and mistrust on such serene days, but my interviewees reminded me that it was the way of life in Kyoto to take advantage of the quiet and calming surroundings and get yourself think deeper. Yes, I thought to myself, I needed to keep unswayed by the environment and think deep all the time, or I would not be able to finish my thesis.
I noticed that there were many Chinese students on both campus. What made Kyoto look more like China was that all temples charged admission fees. Therefore, I went for shrines as they were free, though Kyoto was more famous for Buddhist traditions. The final point to mention about Kyoto was the public transportation was old-style, and most of the time it was more reasonable to take buses than the tube, and I would definitely buy one-day bus passes if I visit again!