Rather than make some vain attempt to rack my mind for all the memories from the time since I last posted, I'm going to simply say this: I was in Kyoto for a week, came back to Tokyo, then left for Nagoya for an additional 2 days. For this reason, I was unable to post anything here.
Wow. Okay. I just realized I had already stated that. Yay for the obvious!
Now, the much anticipated KYOTO STORY!
I had started planning this trip a few weeks back, and even compiled a small group that wished to go. It included Jade, Milo, Lizzy, the other Brian Smith, and Randi. One thing led to another, though, and eventually the group shrunk to just myself, Jade, and Milo. Lizzy ended up receiving an invite by her host family to go another time, and the other Brian Smith ran into some financial issues with his bank. Soon enough, however, Randie joined back up and, this time, brought Brown-Haired Dominick along! (from now on, he will be simply referred to as Dominick).
Thus, our team on Mission Kyoto consisted of:
After a frantic search to find everyone (ends up there are 3 or 4 entrances to the same Shinkansen gate at Tokyo Eki), we finally were aboard the bullet train and headed for Kyoto! The train left the station at 10:36 (and having boarded at 10:32 I'd say the Fates smiled kindly upon us) and arrived in Kyoto Eki a little before 1:00. It's a good thing, too, because prior to said arrival we weren't quite sure whether or not we had gotten on the correct train!
Our first impressions of Kyoto were quite different than had been expected. Rather than the cobbled roads lined with tori gates, hoardes of strolling geishas, and samurai recruitment offices set up on each corner, we saw this:
Besides not fitting the above assumed description, Kyoto Tower (the white protusion above) is perhaps the most hideous structure ever deemed a tourist attraction. There's supposedly an observation deck located in the UFO-looking thing at the top...but with Kyoto possessing virtually no skyline to speak of, I'm not quite sure of its purpose.
I'll come back on and write more later- I'm a bit sick and need some rest. But before I leave for the time being, let me say CONGRATS to Mr. Nicholas Giglia on a great job offer!
Back later today.
Okay, so back to Kyoto! The first priority was to check into our first hotel, which was included in the skinkansen ticket package. For some reason, Milo, Dominick, and myself were given a room far, far bigger than 3 people would need. This incited a bit of jealousy amongst the girls, which we of course took as a sign to rub our good fortune in : )
I could sit here and bore you with minute details about each temple we visited (and there were ALOT), but instead let's go for some photojournalism, shall we?
Am I the only one who wants to crawl on the bumpy green background?
At "Philospher's Stone"- the ending point of the famous Philosopher's Path- so named for famous Japanese philosopher, Kitaro Nishida, who used to walk the route during meditation sessions.
Sun-god give me the power to rule the lake!
Ryoanji, the most famous zen garden in Kyoto. If only the people weren't so loud! It was extremely difficult to meditate.
Where was this? Not sure I remember but not sure it matters...beautiful nonetheless! Notice the beginning of fall.
Milo and I reinacting the Japanese cupid scene. This is from the so-called Love Stone Shrine. Legend has it that a lover or lover-aspiree is to shut his or her eyes and walk a straight line 20 yards or so to the "love stone". If he or she is able to accomplish this feat, they will enjoy love forever. If he or she fails, however, they will spend the rest of their lives alone and miserable. There are many such tests at temples and shrines in Japan. It is always my policy to simply not try them out.
In front of Kyomizudera...the top gave us amazing views of the forest and downtown Kyoto.
From atop Kyomizudera.
Later, we spoke to these "geisha" who said to us, "Um, you know we're not real...right?" Too bad!
Eating on the first night. They cooked right in front of us! Some kind of Japanese omelette....I forget the name, and need to look it up but wow was it good!
In front of the famed Kinkakuji temple...we visited at the perfect time of day- just in time to witness the sun reflecting off the equally golden temple, washing the lake in its warmth! The picture does it no justice whatsoever.
Kinkakuji temple, seriously one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen...so why not include two pictures?
Thought my father would like the site of this- a ton of fresh, raw seafood! The roundish sausage-looking things to the bottom right are actually ovaries of some kind! And no, I didn't eat them.
So that's a lot of pictures...one interesting note- the hotel/hostel we were staying at did not have any rooms available on the last day (Friday night)... so we had to find alternative housing. Little did we know, however, how hard that would prove to be. We called 2 hostels. We stopped by one hotel. Nothing, nothing, and nothing was available. The owner of our original hotel then presented us with two, er...less convetional options- karaoke bar and manga cafe. For those who are unaware, a karaoke bar becomes extremely cheap after midnight, and can be rented for maybe $10 for 5 hours or so....if you're lucky and there's couches, you get a cheap hotel room! This is the option we selected....unfortunately, we did so without seeing the room first. It was nice enough, but music blasted from the hallway all night- resulting in a measely 30 minutes (at the most) of sleep!