Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Day 6 - Kyoto

A day will never be enough time to cover the wonders of Kyoto. Ignorance is a bit of bliss, in that at the end of the day, we don't know what we've missed. We were thinking of going to Hiroshima the next day, so knew we'd have to pack in what we could. As it turned out we didn't go to Hiroshima, but we also didn't explore much more of Kyoto either. Maybe someday I will have to come and spend a week in Kyoto, but not for a while.

But on Tuesday we did our best.

The day started with another Japanese breakfast that was excellent, though I preferred the previous days soft tofu. The room was swarming with older Brits and I felt like I was in the middle of an episode of "Keeping Up Appearances". I have no idea what group they were with, but they did not seem to be Nippon-O-Philes ("Seaweed with breakfast eh?" "I dunno what it was, but I ate it in one gulp.")

A prerequisite for any day exploring Kyoto is the day bus pass, which we picked up, and then set out for Kinkakuji. I'm not sure what can be said of kinkakuji, it looks a lot like the picture, it was my third visit there, and anyone who comes to Kyoto needs to see it, so we took my mum to do just that.

But I am forgetting one thing.

Apparently it is national school trip week or some such, and the school children are out in force. It would not be outside of the realm of possibility to be trampled by a stampede of them. Furthermore, they have homework. These poor children must find English Speaking Gaijin and ask them questions. So we spoke to a cute, young group of Junior High Students from Chiba, took a picture with them, and gave them our adress for sending us a copy. I'm really curious to see if we get one.

Unfortunately, the massive (MASSIVE) number of Elementry, Junior High and High School students swarming the most popular sights did make it a bit difficult to see them as well. Kinkakuji might have been more pleasant without them.

Luckily we arrived at Nijo Castle just in time to see a herd of them depart.

Nijo castle, another third time visit that I had to show my mum, was beautiful as usual. The gardens are sculpted and beautiful. And worth having your picture taken at.

Mum enjoyed it. I admired the wooden carvings yet again.

We also did a brief, Gaijin-Friendly tea ceremony, that mostly involved eating mochi and sipping tea with a lovely view of the garden. My mum was quite pleased to get to join in a tea ceremony, and I enjoyed it as well.

(Photo looks weird because we sloppily tried to adjust for dark interior.)

Stopped briefly at a museum where Tech Support once more decried the Japanese size as his feet stuck out 3 inches past the slippers we had to wear inside and said were the most uncomfortable yet. Mum and I agreed that the slippers were hideously uncomfortable, and thus the exhibit did not hold our attention well.

I then led us back to the bus stop to depart for a new area of town I had not been to, and as we waited it began to rain. We got into the bus. Then it began to pour. Hard.

Luckily by the time we got off it had calmed, but not enough to yet voyage out to a temple, so we hoped on another train and ended up getting off at a big shopping area. This was mums first exposure to such a place and she loved it. I managed to spot a Very Cute Store where Cute Things were procured, and we ate at a curious bakery with a rather ostentious name.

I was determined to get to one new Temple, so dragged us back out onto the bus once more. The temple was near what seemed to be a nicer, municipal area of Kyoto, with high walled streets that reminded me of some anime. Apparently those kids lived in the nice area of town.

We hiked up a bit of a hill. The rain had stopped completely and it was warm again, but water rushed beneath us and it smelled lovely. Fresh from the rain. We passed a school where lucky children get to learn at the base of a mountain next to a beautiful temple. A beautiful temple I was very happy to find as my directions were - well, I was going off the maps on the street.

The temple had a big gate that for a couple hundred yen, you could go up.

It was worth it for the view. The temple, Nanzenji, is at the base of some of Kyotos mountains, and the recent rain somehow made it all the more wonderful.

We then skipped paying any fees to see further inside, and instead hiked along the side. We passed a Roman Aqueduct that I can find no information on and Tech Support Theorized had been brought by the romans themselves, or maybe aliens.

Closed off areas are somehow more mysterious for their remoteness.

I was terribly pleased with just how beautiful the place was and did my best to explore. My tired Mum waited while me and Tech Support climbed further into the mountain. Though I was happy we came after the rain, I regretted not having more time to explore. Perhaps it is all a romantic notion, but I can see what inspired Miyazaki (director of My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away, and many other good animations) in these moss covered steps and wood enshrouded shrines. A sign warned us at the base not to speak loudly, but this is the type of place I instinctively whisper in anyway. I don't want to disturb the wood sprites.

And so that I don't get too serious, there are signs like this to inject an odd humor into the moment.

I left the beautiful, mysterious forest with a little regret, but mostly happiness, and found my mum.

We went back to Kyoto Station for a bit more shopping. Discovering another yarn shop and going to Muji once more, where my Mum agonized for a bit over what she wanted to buy. I was too exhausted at this point to do anything more than stop at a conveinence store for a dinner of riceballs, crackers and evil pepper rings.


Meggish said...

Evil fire pepper rings! Were they hot? And what's up with that rope hanging from the temple?

Catherine said...

So pretty! I want to go to Japan!

J-po said...

Did the Rampaging Horde of Japanese Children dissuade Tech Support yet from his habit of saying "Hello" to everyone he meets?

eatrawfish said...

The Pepper Rings were Very Hot.

The rope has to do with a lightning rod *I think*. I don't totally understand and don't think it's a historical thing.

Yeah, Tech Support is overwhelmed by the number of children and only says "Hi" to those who say hi to him now.