Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Best Japan Has to Offer - Kyoto

Theres 2 computers in this lounge area here at the Youth Hostel, and they run 100 yen (approx $1) for 15 minutes. Upon further inspection on this timing machine for the computer, I notice all it does is cut the power from the monitor. So if I had my own power cord, I could just bypass the whole system all together. I don't have my own, so I just tried plugging the lan cable into my laptop and... whala, internet. I thinks me will upload lots and lots of pictures... now.

So anyways, Kyoto, this place is amazing. Definitely lives up to being the culture capital of Japan. Wow.

I ended up spending most of the entire day with those couple guys I met last night, which was really nice after being all by myself yesterday. At the same time, I also now know full well the advantages from traveling by yourself: Ultimate Freedom. Ya don't have to worry about what anyone else wants to do, rather only what you wanna do, cause theres only you. However it gets kinda lonely when you're looking at some of the marvels of the world and all you can do is say, 'oohh' to yourself. But hey, I'm getting a mix of both forms of travel this time around it seems.

Anyways, Vivek, one of my newly made friends who's around my age, wanted to go see the Fushimi Inari shrine, which is on the southeast side of Kyoto. 2nd stop by train, so we got there pretty quick. I haven't seen the movie, but apparently this shrine appears in "Memoirs of a Geisha" which is why the reason Vivek wanted to go see it. For those of you unfamiliar with the shrine or the movie, let me try and give a brief explanation of this shrine, or rather, grand shrine. Have you ever seen those big red gates usually found at the entrance to shrine grounds? Multiply by 10,000's, line em up and stretch them out for a couple miles. Literally a tunnel of those red gates, or torii. Just, wow. They wind around and up into the mountain side and just go on and on. You could spend several hours up there if you really wanted to, just amazing. We were there for a couple, but didn't have time to do the entire path since its so unbelievably long.

After that we headed back to Kyoto station, got some lunch and hopped on a bus and headed northwest for Kinkakuji Temple, the most popular tourist spot in Kyoto. The kanji for the name of this place mean 'gold' 'palace/pavilion' 'temple' and the place really does live up to it's kanji's meaning. A golden pavilion. Breathtaking. It sits right on a pond, so the reflection just amplifies its beauty. Funny thing though, after walking through an unbelievable never ending trail of red torii gates at the previous Grand Shrine, this place seemed somewhat... small. But very cool never the less.

After Kinkakuji, we tried to make it to the adjacent Ryoanji Temple that apparently has a very cool Zen Garden, but we ran out of time, and ran out of energy. It was supposedly 34C out today! For you non-metric folks, thats over 93F!!! Tomorrow its supposed to be even hotter, at a scorching 36C (97F)!!! Oy vey. At least I'm glad I'm able to get an unlimited bus pass for 500 yen and just stay in a cool bus in between things. Anyways, a bummer we couldn't make it to Ryoanji, but theres still tomorra. We then got on a bus and headed back to Kyoto station to get my luggage, and so Vivek could go on to Osaka. He's coming back tomorrow, so we may meet up then, who knows.

We split up at the station, and then I headed towards Kyoto Tower for one of my favorite activities, sightseeing from the sky. I pretty much did just what I had done in Nagoya 2 days prior, went up prior to sundown to get some good lit shots of the city, and then waited till it got dark to take some cool pictures of the sunset and then of the night scenery, or yakei, my personal favorite. And also similar to Nagoya, I was up there for 2 or 3 hours, getting my money's worth out of the 740 yen ticket to get up there of course.

Around 9'ish I decided I should probably head back to the hostel, seeing as though the place locks its doors at 10:30. Hopped on the 5, and had a very nice conversation with a lady from Kyoto here the whole way back to the hostel here. I gotta tell ya, it feels really good to be able to have a nice conversation with a local in the native language. It really makes me feel like I've come along way with my Japanese. My little experience with her went like most go however, its become rather amusing of late though.

1. I'm asked if I need help, or I ask for help, Japanese comes out of my mouth
2. After a short amount of conversation, compliments on my Japanese, espc my accent
3. Questions: Why do you like Japan? How long have you studied Japanese? Why do you speak Japanese so well?
4. "I'm very happy you like Japan!"
5. Japan/American language, culture, food, etc comparisons

Throw in a little bit of variation, but thats usually how things go. Which I'm totally fine with, cause thats just what I like to talk about. So I had a pleasant little ride back to the hostel.

After I got back, I took a nice cool shower I'd been looking forward too all day, followed by a nice soak in the bath which my soar muscles love me to death for. Then I got somethin to eat from the convenience store across the street, got out my laptop, borrow the lan line here, and started intenet'in it up. Blog and pictures uploaded and up to date. Tomorrow is very early, and I am very tired though, so I think I'll be on my way to bed.

More to come!

Check out my Flickr site for all my photos! Click on "View as slideshow" on the upper right hand side to see my most recent photos, or just click on each individual set on the right hand side!


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