Friday, February 22, 2008
Davo San in Hakone looking very Japanese (or perhaps
like Groucho Marx) but if fact it is my clip on sunglasses which are causing
We awoke from our hardened floor once more this morning.
An Onsen, breakfast, and a short walk was all that separated us from the
clockwork that is the Japanese rail system. The trip lasted from 11:00 until
2:00 and we ate oranges, apples, and nuts for our lunch as we zipped through
the heart land of Japan on our way from Hakone to Kyoto. I
realized while making this trip that the most prolifically adopted idea the
human race has ever had is consumerism. The Japanese like the Australians,
English, Americans, French, Germans, and the entire so called western world
have all bought into this idea in a big way. The idea is more popular than
any religion has ever been.
Think about it for a moment. The idea works
directly on people's current needs and wants unlike religion which offers
only solutions to the purported after life. I know I am waxing
philosophically here but for some strange reason I saw this truth; I guess
it was all those houses and cars I saw.
Julia looking pensive but actually thinking of cheese
as she stood in front of the Higashi Hongan-Ji temple we visited on our
We arrived in due course at Kyoto station and made our
way to our Ryokan which is a traditional style Japanese hotel; oh great more
sleeping on the floor. We walked aimlessly up some street in Kyoto until we
found a most unusual store (for Japan) that sold wine and cheese. Oh my
goodness! I had no idea until we saw cheese how much I had missed cheese and
when we ate the cheese and drank the wine it is hard for me to describe how
wonderful it was. Julia got completely drunk, of course, and I stayed sober
as a judge, of course, after drinking a whole bottle of Californian white
wine and eating two whole blocks of glorious cheese. Could this be the
Marian version of our story? A Marian version of a story relates to how
Julia's Mum sometimes strays from the truth when retelling one of her
stories. Sorry Mary I could not resist.
Anyway, it was another wonderful
day and I was officially christened by the clerk at our hotel as Davido San;
my new official title. Julia shortened this to Davo San claiming it is the
Saturday, February 23, 2008
A lovely garden.
From Julia: after waking from a sleep-interrupted night
on lumpy threadbare futons under quilts that were too short to cover our
feet we decided to bail from the Ryokan; we had, had enough sleeping on the
floor. In the small town of Hakone the traditional style hotel we were in
with futons and kimonos etc. was wonderful (sleeping on the floor was worth
it because of the character of the place and the Onsen) but, in the big city
of Kyoto the Ryokan had more of a feel of a flop house. We don"t really know
what a flop house is but it certainly felt like this was one. So we got up
and walked around until we found a real hotel with beds; sheer luxury! Then
we needed our Internet fix. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, in Japan it is
very hard to find any Internet cafÃ©s or access to wireless connections. We found
a place that was run by an evil witch of a Japanese young lady. We think we
saw her munching on a bat in the dark when we arrived before opening time.
The Shogun Castle.
Earlier we were buying a train ticket and asked the
ticket office person about where to go for Internet access. She said
"there's nowhere except a place over the street and I don"t advise you to go
there". Actually it was the very place with the bat munching witch. In
desperation we had no choice but to go back there and see if it was open. It
was and we went in only to be confronted by the evil sister, the nastiest
person we"ve encountered, by far, since arriving in Japan. She was
officious, and had no time at all for English speakers. Filling in required
paperwork, we had the choice of "open or private" computers. We chose
private and we were directed to a small cubicle each with a box of tissues
and porn magazines within our reach. The Internet access was a thin veil for
some kind of dominatrix sleaziness at worst and surfing porn sites at best.
We quickly left after achieving nothing, not even porn, and continued our
search for Internet access. At this point we really felt down and out. We
had been rejected by two hotels earlier that morning in our attempt to leave
the Ryokan and now it seemed we had failed to find Internet access. Our luck
changed and our faith in humankind was restored when we found a place, that
seemed to be a computer training company, where a really nice man let us use
his Internet access for free. Not a porn magazine in sight.
The birds attacking each other.
After finding a new place to stay and achieving our Internet goals we headed for
the Nijo Castle in downtown Kyoto. By now we had become masters of the Kyoto
subway and so it was only a quick train ride away before we were immersed in
The palace gardens.
As we were perched high on a castle battlement we saw the
most amazing fight between two giant raptors which we think were eagles.
They squawked and tore at each other in mid-flight a truly amazing thing to see.
The really interesting thing was that just minutes before, while we were in
the castle looking at the beautiful 400 year old wall paintings, we saw the
very same creatures depicted by Shogun artisans.
Here are geisha we spotted.
From Julia: The castle was made of wood and thin paper
screens and it was freezing cold in there, even colder than being outside in
below freezing temperatures. It was hard to imagine how tough it must have
been to live in it. It seemed as if people must have lived with minimal
privacy as walls and panels slid open between spaces. It
was spooky and eerie as well as wonderfully beautiful.
The garden outside was a nicer place to be. There were
various rocks and bushes and we saw a team of men hand manicuring trees. It
After the castle we made our way over to the geisha
district called Gion and to another wonderful temple complex. We
rode in a rickshaw, drank green tea, and walked down streets filled with
shops selling all kinds of strange oddities.
The beautiful snowy temple.
Then, all of a sudden, a snow storm started. We had just
reached the temple gate and all became enveloped in swirling snow.
The temple was as beautiful as all the rest we"ve seen
and snow added to its splendor.
We got lost and really cold returning to our hotel. We
kept stopping for tea to regenerate and eventually made it back to our hotel
in one piece. We had more wine to warm us up as soon as we got back. We then
went over the road to a sushi place and had 2 bottles of sake and some
delicious food. I am not sure how we made it home. Next
thing I knew it was the following day and we were heading off to Nara. Hick!