Japan loves their covered shopping plazas. We've been spending a fair amount of our time slowly meandering down the long aisles of sweets vendors and fan sellers. On the 30th, we just so happened to meander down into the famous food district of Kyoto. There was a cacophony of smells that permeated the air...let's just say that none of them convinced me to spend my money. Most of the vegetables were stored in large bins filled with a sort of brown sugar consistency looking substance. Getting the attention of the store owner I asked, "Nandesuka" or What is it. She was able to answer in English, crushed brown rice mixed with salt. I was excited to use some of the Japanese I had been learning in my literature class. But we did find a sake cup set in the shape of Mount Fuji that I helped convince Dr. Wolf he needed to buy, which he was eager to break in that night.
|Aaron purchasing a hand painted fan at the same place I purchased mine.|
Our last day in Kyoto was jam packed with activities. Starting with a martial arts lesson in the park at 6 am, where we learned some basic stances, punches, and kicks. After a quick breakfast and grabbing some rolls for the road, we took the train to the end of the line and got off at Karama Station and hiked through a series of secluded shrines. The trail was literally stairs the ENTIRE way to the top and the ENTIRE way to the bottom.
The humidity hung heavy in the air and after a few minutes of walking my shirt was soaked! Despite that, it was really calming to be in the wilderness of Japan rather than in the bustling city of Kyoto for an afternoon. The slight breeze rustled the leaves on the trees and chimed the small bells that hung on the shrines. At the top of the mountain there was a forest of trees whose roots twisted above the soil, providing perfect nooks and crannies for spot to hide in!
At the base of the mountain we attempted to find a restaurant to eat at which proved difficult. The only restaurant was quaint with seating on top of the river and lanterns hanging from the temporary roof, but PRICEY at a 100 yen a plate. Apparently, the Japanese didn't have quite the same sticker shock that we did, since they spend a larger percent of their income on dining than the average American does.
We hopped back on the train to return to somewhere a little less expensive and found a yummy little french pastry shop. From our lunch spot, a group of us wandered to the Philosophers Path and did a little philosophizing while walking along a small stream back to our hotel. The path had cobbles buried in the dirt providing a rustic path. Perhaps there was too much philosophizing, or maybe not enough food, causing us to get a little slap happy on the way back to the hotel. We may or may not have made up ghetto names for ourselves. Say hello to Dee Eye Anna. Finding dinner was another adventure as we wandered around the street of Kyoto. I had a dish of rice with tempura (fried shrimp) and a bowl of miso soup. Since it was our last night in Kyoto the majority of the students did what the locals do and grabbed some drinks from 7-eleven and sat down by the river meeting new people and watching the water splash and bubble.
|Stairs flanked by rows of shrine lanterns.|
|Aaron, Me, Michelle, Stephanie, and Shay on a shrine bridge.|
|Two couples eating at the river restaurant.|
We had a few extra hours in the morning before we departed Kyoto, so three of us thought we’d kill time by going to the zoo just across the street from our hotel. There were elephants, red pandas, penguins, and four giraffes among other animals. There were a number of small school groups and small families, so cute, adorable japanese babies were everywhere!
|Darrick, Danna, and Aaron in front of the bird cage.|
|He's sexy and he knows it.|
We grabbed lunch at the hotel before we headed for the train with our packed overnight luggage, while the rest of our luggage was shipped to Matsuyama, our destination after Hiroshima. There was a steady, annoying drizzle that made travelling to the subway station a rather damp experience. I was sad to leave Kyoto, especially since I was finally able to navigate the city comfortably without a map, but I was excited to see what the rest of the country had to offer and to ride on the fastest bullet train in Japan all the way to Hiroshima.
Happy 'Spot' Hunting.