Monday, May 28, 2012

That's a Mountain, Not a Hill: Exploring Kyoto's Temples

So I have forgotten to mention a few hilarious things. First was when we went to Church yesterday, there was a little book store where Julie bought something. In Japan, most of the time when you pay, instead of handing them the money you put it in a tray. Well, she forgot and handed it to the cashier, and she freaked out, and it was no big deal, but she says she started to think in Chinese to recover. Haha! (I also bought a bedtime story in Japanese here, awesome)

Second: The cleaning lady saw my teddy bear sticking out of my bookbag and assumed that a child was in the room, so she left us children's slippers and a children's toothbrush :p

So today we were awoken at 6 in the morning because I had shut the shoji curtain in an unfortunate way that let the sun in right in our faces. But this was not what completely woke us up, oh no. Mom was already awake, but was listening to her headphones at a volume we couldn't hear…unfortunately, when she started listening to the Phantom of the Opera, we could hear the aria quite clearly. So when I heard Sing for me! and the television wasn't on, I was quite confused. So was Julie. So yes, early morning.

So we get up, get moving, and get on the loooong train ride to head to Kyoto (its especially long because we are in Osaka) but no worries, it's just a train ride, not a car ride. Then, we got on the bus to ride to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion (another longish bus ride because Kinkakuji is out in the verifiable Kyoto Sticks) Kinkakuji is just as beautiful as ever, but we ran into a bit of an unfortunate problem. I was surprised at how empty main street Gion Shijo was when we got on the bus, but we quickly found all the people once we got to tourist attraction Kinkakuji. Today was unfortunately field trip day for all the schools in a 5 mile radius, so everywhere we went there were kids in uniforms everywhere.

So we swam through some children and saw Kinkakuji. You already know my opinion on the matter, so here's what Mom and Julie weighed in on:

Well actually here's Mom's opinion about everything, but its 9:30pm and she is passed out on her bed, so her opinion is a bit sleep-ridden:

 "It was really cool it was all cool it was different it was cool to see unique in its own right."

Words to live by, haha. But we did drag her all around the city today, just wait. So Julie says:

 "Kinkakuji was crowded; we almost got run over by a pack of 6th graders at every turn. The golden temple itself pretty I guess; I wouldn't want to maintain it. I liked all of the other buildings at Kinkakuji too."

There were seriously a zillion kids everywhere. But anyway, next by default, we went to Ryoanji, a famous Zen garden 5 minutes away from Kinkakuji. Honestly, I didn't want to take Mom and Julie there; it wasn't anything special and it was a waste of Mom's non-college-student energy. I really had no choice; as I said these two temples are waaaaaay out by nothing, and I never got to go, so I am glad we went. It was a very nice Zen garden (dripping with students) and the lake was very pretty; I wish I had more time to explore the little shrine in the middle of it.

The family weighs in:

(sleepy) Mom: "The zen garden was okay."

Yeah. Mom had a bit of a fail at the Zen garden. I didn't realize that the Zen garden was a place where you would have to take off your shoes, so I never explained how that particular practice is accomplished, but it's really not that hard. Everyone was taking off their shoes, and there was a sign on the little wooden planks saying no shoes on the board.

So what does Mom do? A.) Walk on the board with her shoes on. ::facepalm:: and B.) Proceed to take off shoes, but then throw them onto the board anyway. ::headdesk:: Not prepared for this, oops.

So Julie's opinion: "I don't understand Zen gardens, it's a rock; I liked the facility built around the rock crap. I felt so far away from Zen at the time that it's not even funny (with all the crowds and stuff). I got more peace out of the buildings than the gardens." 

As I said, I'd have done it before if I could. But we saw it, so all the better. Next, I wanted to take them to Kiyomizudera, which is a very very famous temple that actually had stuff to do and really nice shops to see. Sounds perfect right? That's what I thought; I thought it was the perfect slice of Kyoto culture and it could be seen all at one temple. I was very excited to take them there. I was excited to take them there as soon as I got there the first time.

The flaw in this plan? Kiyomizudera is on top of a steep hill. Julie will swear to you up and down that it was a mountain, but the internet calls it a "steep hill" and even when I wrote about it in my first blog about Kiyomizudera I called it a "ridiculous hill." It was paved a lined with shops and houses; when I think mountain, I think Mt. Hiei.

Big difference.

Needless to say, they were not happy campers and nearly spoiled all the fun at the top of the hill. They weigh in on the situation:

A tired Mom: *Mom had plenty to say about the walk up but none of it is publishable on this blog*

Julie: "Chloe's Adera [yes she called it that] was....::groan:: such a long mountain. I was not expecting a mountain, although I should have expected it because temples are always on top of mountains ::insert rant about back hurting and children everywhere:: Then, we get to the top and it looked like a Chinese temple. There was unique stuff to do, but it was still too crowded. It would be cool to see without a million people and not on a school trip day."

It was also ridiculously crowded. We were going to try to walk between the two distanced rocks that are for finding a relationship, but there were many school kids milling about and doing it as well….noooo thank you, haha.

We did go get some of the Water of Significance though! We drank from the sacred spring and everything; it was very nice.

And the walk down was much more pleasant. :) It was also adorable because while waiting to cross the street, a couple school kids said hello, and Mom said 'Konnichiwa' and they were so surprised!

After such, we get off at an earlier bus stop to pick up some crazy Kit Kats (one of the few places I knew offhand that had them) and take pictures of the Ichiriki Teahouse, a very famous (and still active) geisha house that I have walked by a million times and never taken a picture of. Woops.

After a train ride back to Osaka, Julie and I go search for food. Luckily, Osaka Station across the street is laden with food…we headed over to the okonomiyaki place, and it looked expensive, so we wanted to split something, which we were apparently supposed to do. Yay! Did we get okonomiyaki, a cabbage pancake of delicious? Not this time; we got Omusoba, which looks like Omurice (Omurice: omelet filled with ketchup rice with ketchup) except inside it had soba noodles and meat and onions and it had mayo and ketchup on top and it was beautiful.

Julie had some bonus thoughts about Kyoto and Japan in general:

"Kyoto was old time-y, not like the metropolitan Osaka; I liked the old buildings. There were lots of tourist shops which were a weird mix of tourist trap and actual legit old stuff. Also Japanese women dress like witches trying to hide in the Muggle world; they layer on random stuff that doesn't make any sense." 

There are some strange clothes. Well, now it is ten o clock and Julie and Mom are both asleep. I still need to rearrange my suitcases because tomorrow we are Tokyo bound!



  1. Jesus what one says during a steep hill gets twisted. I was in some pain but it was still cool and though rocks are lame I had never been to a Zen temple so it was a win for me anyway

  2. what does Konnichiwa mean?

  3. Joan's editorial: " You get off the bus go up a hill and you are there" Easy enough. I got off the bus...climbed a mountain posing as a hill...Wait there's more: Ascended a zillion steps to reach said temple. Worth the climb. Beautiful and serene. Even with the 8 million school children.

  4. Have fun, Joan!!!! Enjoy your girls!!!!