Osaka, Amagasaki, and Kyoto

Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
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Trip End Dec 15, 2005


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Monday, October 24, 2005

Day 4: We got up bright and early again (gotta love that jeglag) and got onto the bullet-train (Shinkansen) and headed for Osaka. Man, that train is fast! We passed by Mt. Fuji, which looks somewhat similar to Mt. Hood in Oregon. It was pretty cloudy so we couldn't see it. I guess that's why it looks like Mt. Hood.

When we got to Osaka, we were met by my friend from Iowa State, Tomomi, and her family. Tomomi and her 4-year old daughter, Asahi, took us to a museum that showed what life was like in Osaka in the early 1800's. It was a very cool place. Most people lived in a house that was only about 200 square feet for the whole house, and the whole neighborhood shared the same outhouses!

Afterwards we went to Tomomi's house for dinner. She lives near the CostCo in Amagasaki. Yes, CostCo. I don't know where they would store 12 rolls of paper towels and 40 rolls of toilet paper, but it seems to be fairly popular. Tomomi put us to work helping make homemade gyoza (potstickers). These will soon be coming to a Beaverton area dinner party near you.

Day 5: I let Janell sleep in while I looked for an ATM. I was very surprised at how few people were out, even though it was early on a Sunday morning. Finally, I wandered down to the subway and fould out where everybody was. Underground! It's like there is another city down there. Who needs daylight!

Tomomi took us to Kyoto to take in some of the historical sights. We went to a temple that used to be where the emperor lived. One of the interesting parts about it is that although the first building there was about 900 years old, several other buildings had been moved there over the years. There was archtecture from several different eras in Japanese history all in one place. There was also a special exibit open where we saw paintings and statues that were up to 900 years old! Very cool. We also did a ceremony where you write a wish and copy down some really difficult Chinese characters. I:m not sure what it all meant, but it was interesting (and not the way Janell means it when she says something is interesting).

We also went to see the Nijo castle in Kyoto. It was built by the first Shogun in 1603. Very impressive. Just going through that building tells a lot about that part of Japanese history.

Anyway, we're having a great time, and I couldn't be more grateful to our Japanese hosts. They have been taking very good care of us. We're going to head off to Kanazawa tomorrow so I can show Janell where I went to school.
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