Saturday, 14 March 2009

Kyoto part I

I kept a private (online) journal in Kyoto, using the coin-op computers in our hostel. I'm now going to start porting the entries over here, and adding some photos (I took so many photos!) from the trip.


24th February

Right now Loren is playing Magic with a couple of Americans he just met in the lounge of the Kiwi-style Backpackers we are staying at. I am therefore entertaining myself by feeding my internet addiction on one of the coin-op computers in said lounge.

So. I will give you the quick run-down because it is hard to type on this keyboard.

Plane ride.
Uneventful. Spotted the first Japanese people wearing surgical masks. I would say on the street I see about one person in twenty wearing one of these. Most of the airport staff at Immigration in Osaka Kansai airport were wearing them. Service on Air New Zealand flights, as usual, was great. They had a Japanese or Western option for meals, and offered a hot moist towel for the cleaning of hands and face before meals, which is common practice in Japanese restaurants.

It was cold but no longer raining as it had been the night we got in. We visited a lovely garden near our hostel, which our guide book described as not particularly impressive (therefore, can not wait to see the impressive ones). And visited a Buddhist temple also not far away. It is allegedly the largest all-wooden building ever made. I would believe it too, though it would have been better if the main building had not been closed for renovation, and also so covered with scaffolding that you could not see the outside of it. We had ramen at a hole-in-the-wall ramen house for lunch. We had ramen for dinner as well (along with some gyoza), at one of these strange little ramen houses where you order and pay via a coin-op machine outside, then hand them your tickets inside to get served.

Heather on bridge
Me on one of the bridges of Shosei-en Garden

dead tree & cherry branches
Cherry tree supported bamboo lattice. We were there just before cherry blossom season.

dragon fountain
Dragon fountain at Higashi Hongan-ji temple

The rain is back, and it is colder. We went into dowtown Kyoto and visited two strange museums. One was a manga museum that also was a sort of manga archive; there were walls full of shelved manga and people sitting at tables reading them. The second was a kaleidoscope museum, which was more fun than it sounds. I have never seen so many kinds of kaleidoscope, nor such fancy ones. The most elaborate was a stained-glass statue of a geisha; you look into a peep hole in the top of her hair and turn one of her elaborate hair ornaments. We also checked out an open-air market in the same area. It is huge, full mostly of food vendors of all kinds. I have never seen so many strange foods, some we could only guess at what they might be. Nearly all of the signs were in Japanese. We sampled a variety of things by way of having lunch. My favorites were fresh mochi with adzuki bean paste inside and a strawberry on top, and just absolutely delicious unagi nigiri.

Nishiki Market
Nishiki market


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