Monday, April 05, 2010

Japan/SoKor Day 14: Kyoto Day 1

December 24, 2009
Japan Trip Day 14: Kyoto Day 1

Today I got up and had some breakfast and set some emails so I could wait at the hostel for Tatsuya to come and meet me. He has been staying with his family in Japan since we hung out at Siggraph ASIA last week, and we planned to meet up again in Kyoto. Tatsuya said he would meet me sometime between 11:00-12:00... and as I was checking my email, at 10:58am... in walks Tatsuya! He was so amazingly punctual, I told him "You are like the Shinkansen" :)

Today was TOTALLY AWESOME. We started off the day wandering through the very interesting alleyways, there were lots of really beautiful, Japanese houses. Tatsuya was very excited to use his new 3D Point-and-Shoot camera to get some really cool perspective shots, and we stopped to take lots of cool photos. We made our way through the streets towards the Kiyomizu-Dera temple. It was fantastic, and I really love the bright colour of paint under the temple roofs. This seems very common in Buddhist temples as I've seen so far, and it looks great. We wandered for a while there and took a lot of photos.

For lunch we got some EXCELLENT Beef Udon noodle soup. It was SO good. We also tried some triangle-filled pastries, a popular Kyoto treat. They were filled with red-bean paste, of course! We did a little bit of shopping which was fun - we found a store with a lot of Totoro merchandise, and I bought a little Catbus & Japanese house sculpture. It is great! They packaged it very well so I will be able to carry it around for the next few weeks and get it home safely! We tried a few more tasty street vendor food, including teriyaki rice balls that were awesome.

From the Kiyomizu-Dera area, we took the bus to Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion and gardens. The garden was especially beautiful. From there we walked along the Path of Philosophy, something I was really keen to do. This was a long stone-lined walk along a steam, and was very peaceful and surrounded by lots of cool architecture and people out walking their dogs. We saw several "Philosopher dogs and cats" along the way, and took lots of photos of course!

After a great walk, we went downtown, and I got a gift for Alex - an English translation of a Manga comic book. At the bookstore I also bought myself The Art of Totoro. Tatsuya and I then went for a great wind-down dinner after our long day of walking. We got some shabu-shabu again, but this time with 1/2 of the bubbling pot as a soup broth mix and the other half as a sort of teriyaki sauce. It was great. Just as exciting as the dinner itself was a group of businesspeople behind us, all out for dinner together. It was very interesting to see the interaction between the workers - the seating appeared to be very hierarchical - the owner or lead businessman was at the head of one of the tables, and addressed everyone before they ate dinner. Tatsuya said it had something to do with congratulating them on their sales for the year or quarter or something like that. What was most interesting was the hierarchy - the table with the owner contained mostly older men, (and a couple of women), most probably 50 and over. These appeared to be the senior or experienced employees. The other table was all younger folks, clearly the junior employees. They were louder and more laid back, but it was good to see both tables celebrating equally, I think the older table drank more beer than the younger table! That was really interesting and cool to see.

From our excellent dinner I said goodbye to Tatsuya at the train station, and headed back to my hostel via 2 different trains. I'd already done this trip once, so now I was an expert and didn't need the map anymore. :) I got back the hostel late, and so happy with our accomplishments of the day. I chatted for a bit with 2 Canadian students from McMaster, and told them what I'd gotten up to that day. They said, "We feel so lazy now" when comparing their day to mine :) They were really impressed with my rampant pace of travel and my energy which was a pretty awesome compliment. We chatted for a bit and they showed me some photos of their first day in Tokyo. They had arrived on the Emperor's Birthday... and went straight to the Palace in Tokyo. They said it was insanely busy there, but everyone stayed in their place and it was surprisingly orderly for a group of that huge size. They showed me photos of the palace and photos of the Emperor that they took from the crowd! That is SO cool, it looked like a great experience.

Kyoto is really amazing, I am loving the architecture and this is a paradise for photographers. Tomorrow I will head to the Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama, and definitely go to the Golden Temple too.

Cool alleyways in Kyoto

A really cool garden with a Koi pond!

The restaurant with the Koi pond

Let the cool architecture begin!

Tatsuya super excited about the architecture

I love the roofs!

Geisha?!?!? Could it be?!??!

Some people stop to look at the Geisha, and some don't... I wonder why...

Then we saw the one lady take a photo of the other lady! The one lady in the Geisha clothes also had her son with her. Tatsuya thought that maybe these were likely "Tourist Geishas" - as a visitor, you can pay to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony and dress up in Geisha clothes and wander through the streets of Kyoto in traditional clothing.

A very Japanese dog, waiting politely

An old man walking

Cool ceramic work, I believe these are chopstick holders

Lots of teacups and sake cups

More cool streets


Nope, there's the REAL Nekobasu, and his friends GiGi, Ponyo, and Totoro!

At the entrance to the famous Kiyomizu-dera temple

This place was awesome

More bright roof painting

Water at the temple entrance

I love it! Beautiful design!!!!!!!!

From the back of the entrance area

More bright paint colours

A strange set of masks at a tourist shop

Haha, Akbar.

Our fantastic lunch

This beef soup was SO good

Tatsuya taking lots of 3D photos with his new camera!

Amazing sand design in the gardens of Ginkakuji, the Silver Temple



The happiest gardener ever. This man was so funny, he was sweeping the garden floor as was so happy and excited to be there. He smiled and laughed as he worked, and was happy to see us.

The gardener continues his happy day.

Tatsuya loves his camera!

Ginkakuji and greenery

More cool Japanese roofs

This was a gorgeous garden

Ginkakuji from the walkway

Walkway through the temple

Me and the Silver Temple

Tatsuya with the Temple

A pensive dog, at the start to the Path of Philosophy

Our start along the Philosopher's Path, a famous walk in Kyoto

A shrine, and a vending machine

Cool Japanese writing

Tatsuya on the Path of Philosophy

A couple of nice people we met along the way

A photo of the Emperor and his wife when they came to visit Kyoto


An interesting house

Really cool roof tiles

A man in a Japanese army uniform, perhaps?

The sun started to set

But still, we had more walking to do!

More beautiful architecture in Kyoto

A Philosophic cat on the Path of Philosophy

The most pensive cat, ever

Still thinkin'

Tatsuya and another interesting house

Ninja mask

Back to downtown Kyoto

One of the main streets in Kyoto

Out for dinner to a nice Shabu Shabu place


Very nice food

Tatsuya starting to heat the food, and a big company of businessmen out for dinner behind us

Minamiza Theater, near my hostel

Cool post at Minamiza theater

Theater patrons posting outside of Minamiza theater

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