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Kyoto Japan


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 the illusion.

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 walk.

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 Australia version.

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 cafés 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 Shogun majesty.

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 snow storm.

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 was lovely.

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!


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