Monday, 16 March 2009

Kyoto part II

25th February


The rain cleared up by mid-morning and we braved a trip out in much nicer weather than yesterday's. We went to a supermarket for some basics like cereal and milk, and had to walk down every aisle fascinated by the weird and mysterious items for sale.

bean paste kit kat
Adzuki bean paste kit-kats. They were pretty good.

Then we went to another temple that is in Kyoto Station area (the neighbourhood we are staying in). It was very nice, the number massive wood beams used to construct these huge buildings is truly amazing. Unfortunately this one was also partially closed due to renovation. It had a temple gate that is designated a national treasure or some such - it is a very large wooden gate with intricately carved and painted details depicting kirin and fu dogs. Then went to a sento (bath house).

This was a real treat, and figuring out what to do when there was not a scrap of English to be found was an interesting if disorienting experience. There were all manor of hot and warm spa pools, and a sauna with a television in it! My favourite was a spa pool with some kind of mineralised water in it. It was pleasantly just warmer than body temperature, and the minerals made lots of very tiny bubbles, the water felt very soft and lovely. Loren encountered an electric pool (the men and women were in separate areas). Apparently it was a pool with a very mild electrical current in it, causing a sort of tingly feeling. There were no places to hang towels, everyone was just carrying around a tiny towel that they rent to you that is no bigger than a tea towel. This towel is used to wash yourself when you come in, and at least attempt to cover yourself if you're feeling modest.

Then we walked to downtown and had dinner at a nice sushi restaurant. After that, we walked down this street that our guidebook said was very pleasant at night. It is the narrowest street I have seen yet in Kyoto and suitable only for foot traffic. But it is truly very lovely at night due to the colourful lanterns hung outside beautiful old wooden store fronts, most of them restaurants. This area apparently has some of the fanciest and most exclusive eating establishments in Kyoto; it it easy to see why as they are built right to the edge of a large river that runs through town.

pontocho 5
Pontocho: a beautiful street at night

pontocho 2

Second shot of Pontocho

After we finished our walk through this area, we crossed the river and found a nice pathway that was set above the river but below the level of the street, and had a nice invigorating walk all the way back down to Kyoto Station area and then back to the hostel.

I am typing this in the lounge once again, and the place is truly packed. Most of the Magic players have hit town at this point, both dinning tables and one coffee table are full of Magic players and Loren is right in the middle of it of course. I came up here for a tea and a relaxing read of my book, but the noise level at the moment is not very conducive to this.

magic players in the lounge at K's House
Magic players in the lounge of our hostel

narrow room 2

Our very cozy sleeping quarters.

Well I'd better get going. Probably I'll be back on here again tomorrow.

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