So we left off on Sunday, which was Easter, which is not celebrated here. Incidentally, it happened to be my friend Dave's birthday (he is going to school with another friend at Kyoto; because they are following the Japanese school year, they just arrived a week or so ago). I added a few pictures to the end of this album. We went to dinner at a place near the train station they live by, and it was a very nice restaurant where you order a bunch of food and share everything. Somehow we got lucky, and our server was awesome and spoke fluent English. It was a very good time! (There was also ice cream tempura: fried ice cream. !!!!!!)
Next, we went out to karaoke! Yay! Singing karaoke is quite fun. I was ticked on the way home though; I got to Hirakata Station 5 minutes after the last bus. 5 freaking minutes, and I had to walk a half hour home. The one day I decide not to ride my bike in celebration of Easter laziness. -.- Well I guess I saved even more money, haha.
So Monday was a B-E-A-Utiful day, and although I was a bit travel weary (this being the 4th day of going out and seeing the world in a row), I couldn't just sit in my room! More sakura! Back to Kyoto I went to go to Yasaka Shrine, which is near Murayama Park, where there is very famous sakura.
On the way, I stopped and took some pictures of Hirakata Station and the sakura surrounding the bridge; also very pretty. But I haven't really taken any pictures of my home station to show you, so here you go.
I also parked my bike in a different place (my housemates park there, but I could never find it), and not only was it 200 yen cheaper (!!!) it had another Mister Donut there. Oh man.
So the goal of going to Kyoto today was to take pictures of Murayama Park at night, because they light up the famous tree, so I decided to get acquainted with Kyoto a bit in that spare time. Kyoto does not have a lot of trains and subways; they use buses. Which is all well and good; but you have to figure out which stop has the stop for the bus number you need. There's supposedly an English map at the tour place, but it was closed when I walked by. Either way, it can be done. Just needs a bit of planning.
My first mission was to find Shinkyogoku again; I knew Ninja Cafe was in there, and I wanted to see it for myself so I knew that I knew how to get to it to eat there in the future. I found it no problem, but then somehow I got lost? I don't know, I ended up at the next station down the line. I was ticked. However! In trying to return to Gion Shijo (station I arrived with), I had to cross through a whole mess of sakura along a little river. (Sucks, I know ;p)
So once I was reacquainted with where I was, I headed for Yasaka Shrine and the park! Yay! Once I fought through the masses of people, I found the Shrine! ....It seemed that's where all the masses were going!
Turns out, there was a festival! Go figure, right? I'm an idiot. Oh well! Surprise festival, yay! It started to rain a bit, which sucked, but it stopped. And there was festival food. Yes. Expensive, but so delicious! I had the best karaage (basically Japanese fried chicken bites) I have ever eaten with mayonnaise (also different, and better) powder, which was different. I also had a green tea crepe (so delicious) and amanzake, which is a sweetish 99% non-alcoholic sake. It was good at first; but it had rice bits so after a while it was a bit funky tasting. I haven't had real sake yet, so I can't compare.
I loitered around a bit because it was almost dark, so I have some almost dark pictures of the famous tree. At this point, I was quite tired, so I fought my way through the crowd of people home. But the adventures are not yet finished!