Kyoto Continued

[Taylor]

Day 1

“You don’t go to the whale, the whale goes to you.”

-an old Native Alaskan saying that I probably paraphrased incorrectly

On our first day in Kyoto we basically did three things.  First we went to the International Manga Museum where we learned about the history of manga in Japan as well as French speaking countries (it turns out the Smurfs was originally a Belgium comic).  After that we strolled through the vast shopping district and admired all the expensive goods on their lovely shelves through shiny windows.  From there we explored one of the nearby temples and its corresponding graveyard. 

After all that walking we stumbled into a hostel for a warm place to sit and use the Internet.  We talked with another traveler who had already spent a few nights in Kyoto.   Eventually the conversation drifted towards geisha (there is a famous district near the hostel where geisha are known to walk about during the evening).  He told us how everyone he met seemed to be roaming the streets trying to track one down to take a picture.  He claimed he saw nine in one evening by accident and that that’s pretty much unheard of even in Kyoto. 

Anyway, I was reminded of all the time Julie and I spent working for a glacier and wildlife sightseeing company in Alaska.  Our job included spotting whales and other wildlife.  For a while finding whales either made and broke the trip for me.  If we didn’t find one I often felt disappointed.  Eventually, however, I realized that just knowing that whales were out there somewhere was enough.  With the geisha I had a similar progression.  At first I was highly intent on spotting one and taking its picture.  Then I realized that this was perhaps not the healthiest approach to viewing another person (even if they welcome the attention) and decided that I would not find the geisha, the geisha would have to find me.  She never did and that’s just fine.

Day 2

By far my favorite day in Japan yet.  Kyoto is fantastic.  Our first order of business was a trip to the Silver Pavilion, a temple and zen garden.  Next we ate green tea and sweet potato ice cream as we embarked on the Philosopher’s Walk — a scenic walk by a small stream lined with cherry trees.  During this time of year they’re bare and free of those beautiful pink blossoms you’ve no doubt seen photos of, but it was still an awesome walk through a very old neighborhood.  From there we took the subway to Nihoji Castle.  It was closed so we ended up going to a temple in Northwest Kyoto covered entirely in gold leaf.  The timing worked out perfectly for taking pictures.  We basically arrived just before sunset so we had a nice, warm, low light reflecting brilliantly off the temple.  I heard a lot about this temple before traveling to Kyoto and it turned out to surpass my expectations.  The perfect cap to a lovely day.

We arrived back at our hostel in time for dinner and went to an onsen afterwards.  It turns out this area of Kyoto is mostly free of tourists so we met some of the locals both at the ramen shop and at the onsen.  In fact I saw one person in particular who you probably wouldn’t see in the more popular districts of Kyoto.  No, it wasn’t a geisha, it was a member of the yakuza (Japanese mafia).  How could I tell?  His arms were completely covered in tattoos, like sleaves.  Since everybody else seemed to go about their business as usual, I did the same and tried to avoid making eye contact.  It was a little unnerving, but I don’t think we were in any real danger.  I just tried to keep my distance and it worked fine.

Now we’re back at the hostel for the night.  There is a cat here named Ponyo who keeps attacking my water bottle. 

Tomorrow we’re off to Nara to look at deer and giant statues. 

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2 Responses to “Kyoto Continued”

  1. Kyoto Day 2 « Pacificloons Says:

    […] I mentioned in an earlier post, this was my favorite day of the […]

  2. Kyoto Day 1 « Pacificloons Says:

    […] half hoping to see a geisha.  We wrote about that experience in an earlier post that you can read here if you haven’t done so […]

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