Japan – Kyoto – 2016

Featured Book and Story by Ray Else
All that we touch First Kiss story Ray Else reading 2016

I took the Shinkansen Nozomi bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto - paid a little extra for a reserved seat as the trains that day were crowded. Cost $250. Ride took about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I took the Shinkansen Nozomi bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto – paid a little extra for a reserved seat as the trains that day were crowded. Cost $250 for roundtrip. Ride took about 2 hours and 15 minutes. A fast train indeed.

Tokyo was nice, but the bigger the city the less I tend to like it. Kyoto just felt better, the moment I arrived by bullet train. The ancient capital of Japan, it promised more old world culture as well, and delivered. But before we get to that I want to show two cool garage paintings, the first is from Tokyo, the second I noticed from the taxi to my hotel in Kyoto (and hiked back a couple miles to take the picture).

I wish my garage door looked like this! (Tokyo)

I wish my garage door looked like this! (Tokyo)

 

I don't think the wife would like me to paint our garage door like this, as cool as I find it. (Kyoto)

I don’t think the wife would like me to paint our garage door like this, as cool as it is. (Kyoto)

I stayed at a western type hotel called the Garden Palace, across the street from the Imperial Palace Gardens. Walking distance to good shopping and the old town (with taxis available if needed). A decent place with a decent western or Japanese breakfast.

Had Japanese breakfast of fish and rice and great miso soup and bland tofu (as usual)

Had Japanese breakfast of fish and rice and great miso soup and bland tofu (as usual)

A strange thing happened on my first long walk in the city – I came upon a temple surrounded by a moat, and on the temple wall sat an eagle and a crane. Now to see a crane or an eagle by themselves, nice. To see the two of them not 10 feet from each other, that was like an omen. A blessing. Anyway I interpreted it as such.

Crane on a temple roof, next to an eagle

Crane on a temple roof, next to an eagle

 

An eagle on temple roof, next to a crane

An eagle on temple roof, next to a crane

I discovered to my delight, quite by accident, The Kyoto International Manga Museum about 8 long blocks from the hotel. They have exhibits there and artist visits and cosplay. For about $8 you can stay all day and read from their massive collection of manga series (mostly Japanese though). I picked out a very nice one about a girl who used a blowgun to shoot hypodermic needles into bad spirits that kept peeing on people’s bicycles. The needles made their heads explode. And there is this one little cute (bad?) spirit who keeps avoiding her shots. Of course it was all in Japanese so reading it was like being a child who had not yet learned to make out words. Only the pictures. I still enjoyed it.

Museum

Museum of Manga – there are several universities in Japan that have manga and anime studies/degrees

 

Hey what are you doing here? You were supposed to be in my Tokyo post! Darn fellow keeps following me around.

Hey what are you doing here? You were supposed to stay in my Tokyo post! (Darn fellow keeps following me around.)

I did visit several Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Apparently most Japanese believe in both religions, neither of which has a God to revere, but rather they both teach that one must respect the world and its inhabitants. One must be civilized. There is the possibility for enlightenment, but it is a sliding scale. (I have more to learn about this, I admit.)

Boar represents nature - one does a ritual with the water to get blessed

Boar represents nature – one does a ritual with the water to get blessed

 

Temple with bells

Temple with bells

Me at temple

Me at temple

I was lucky to arrive when the cherry trees were blossoming. This is a spiritual time for the Japanese, springtime, when nature renews herself.

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Me with my bearded rogue samurai look

The next day I went walking through the old Geisha part of the city called Gion. A lot of nice old wooden buildings. A loud roar made me jump – was a monk coming up behind me echoing a kind of annoying chant – chasing away the bad spirits I suppose.

Buildings in Gion area are shops and restos and private residences

Buildings in Gion area are shops and restos and private residences

 

A monk circling old town, chanting like a motorcycle with no muffler

A monk circling old town, chanting like a motorcycle with no muffler

From old town I crossed back over the river, past a haunted house, and found my way to the tourist shopping district.

A haunted house - will probably make it into my next book.

A haunted house – will probably make it into my next book.

Passed a young couple in old dress.

Saw several similarly dressed "couples" walking around - these gladly posed for a picture

Saw several similarly dressed “couples” walking around – these gladly posed for a picture

Found an open air shopping district, quite busy for a Monday, then I made my way to the Pokemon store inside the Takashimaya store. Apparently Pokemon is as popular as ever here with the little ones.

Pokemon forever!

Pokemon forever!

On my way down the escalator, I went one floor too far, and ended up in the basement which unbeknownst to me, was food paradise! You’ve got to check out the Takashimaya basement when in Kyoto!

Stuffed waffles - first had these at the weekend market in Hilo, Hawaii. Hmmm.

Stuffed waffles – first had these at the weekend market in Hilo, Hawaii. Hmmm.

 

Fruit sandwiches!?

Fruit sandwiches!?

Tempura

Shrimp and Asparagus and Fish Tempura

 

Box lunches called Bento

Box lunches called Bento

 

Cookies?

Cookies?

 

Baton D'or (rich man Pocky's)

Baton D’or (rich man Pocky’s)

 

Alright this does look great - but note I did eat some Japanese strawberries and they are not as good as the ones on steroids we get from California

Alright these do look great – but note I did eat some Japanese strawberries and they are not as good as the ones on steroids we get from California

Kyoto impressed me, with both its modernity and its old temples and old town center Gion. And its food. Friendly people, just like in Tokyo. Be sure and click here for my Tokyo post – lots more Japanese culture and advice.

Categories: foreign travel, travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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