Some Days Are Longer Than Others
Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
21Trip End Sep 02, 2010
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Where I stayed
Being a tourist is hard work! I was up at 7 am, checked my email and tried to upload another photo - no luck, got my things together and was at the train station by 9 am. Don't know exactly what took so long. I was so proud of myself because I successfully negotiated the commuter train experience by going to the Inari stop on the Nara line. I followed the other tourists to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. I am getting smarter (so I think) and checking Anne's notes to make sure that I find the major attraction of the place I am visiting. I saw the big orange Torii gate at the entrance and then there were the usual temple buildings and open courtyard. Here there was a lot of construction going on - renovation work I think - and women sitting with children painting pictures of the shrine. I wandered around a bit - going "ho hum" - and then I stumbled upon the first set of torii gates. It was pretty impressive. They were lined up one behind the other as far as you could see
There were offerings of various kinds in different places - pieces of paper or wood with fox faces, little dresses I think, pieces of cloth, wooden slats - all kinds of things. Some people were chanting in front of one of the altars by the lake. At the lakeside I met a Korean family whose daughter was studying in Japan. I told them what a lovely time I had in Korea and they thanked me. The father told me that there were 30,000 torii gates. I don't think that counts the very small ones on the altars as offerings. He mentioned that the gates were offerings and the larger ones obviously cost a lot more. The torii gates continued on up the mountain. A jogger huffed his way past me. I asked a Spanish or Italian couple if we were near the top but they didn't know. I decided that it was late and as much as I would love to trudge all the way to the top, I would start back at this point. I think I passed 29,000 gates on my way up. On one of the off-shoots, I ran into a forest path with bamboo and cedar I think that was being harvested. The wood piles were all covered with beige plastic wrapping. Bow-tied too. Not really, but almost.
It was already past 1 pm and I really wanted to see some other things because my time in Kyoto was running out
First I went to the Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts. It took awhile to find the exhibition - it was in the basement. There were representatives of all the major crafts Japan and especially Kyoto is famous for - textile dying, metal work, woodwork, lacquer ware, et al. There was an entire exhibit devoted to fans and they were gorgeous. There were 2 craftsmen still at work: a woodworker and a box maker who was chatting animatedly with a young woman. It was definitely a worthwhile museum to visit. Photographs were not allowed at most of the exhibits.
Next I went to the Heian Shrine which was across the street
My last stop -and now it was already 4:45-was the Kyoto Handicrafts Center. This looks like one of those places that tour buses drop off their charges to satisfy their shopping urges. I hadn't really done any shopping since I was in Japan and not really much in Korea either so it was long overdue
Well, shopping done, I wandered around looking for the bus stop I used yesterday but for some reason, it wasn't there anymore. I went back to where I got off the bus earlier. I waited. I let a #5 that was going to Kyoto Station go by twice because it had tickets and that's where I had to pay twice (maybe). No #100 came. I think because it is a tourist bus, maybe it stops after 5 pm when all the sites close. So I took the #5. A bunch of Spanish tourists got on and were laughing and giggly. We went to the station, I showed the driver my pass, and off I went with nothing more to pay. I don't really understand these buses.
After being smug about knowing my way around the station now, I got lost again trying to find a restaurant I had seen when I bought my train ticket. I went back to restaurant row to the place I first went to and had a different sushi combo. It was equally good and I was satisfied.
I have some reflections on style. I can't remember whether I mentioned anything before. I feel really clunky and unfashionable with my hiking shoes and socks on. I was better off in my flip-flops but I got a blister wearing them. The young women in their teens and twenties- and it seems as if they are the majority- wear very pretty clothes and especially shoes
My other observation - one that came to me today as I was riding on the bus on a long stretch through the city - is that I was surprised that there is a lot of ugliness in the city. There are some lovely buildings - some of the new architecture and some of the old-style wooden homes or ones patterned on the old style. But there are a lot of not very pleasant looking buildings and wires hanging bunched up between the buildings. Somehow I never expected to see this. I think of Japan and I think of ikebana and the tea ceremony, precision in electronics and automobiles, cherry blossoms and wood cuts and calligraphy...and, of course, kimonos. None of these are the least bit ugly. Not to be hard on the Japanese though. I can't blame them for ugliness any more than the rest of us.