Published: July 18th 2007July 18th 2007
So much has happened, I am going to need to get fancy in here in order to organize everything.
Day One- Arrival
So I woke up and we hung around for a while. And then at around ten we went to the station. With a heavy backpack full of clothes etc, we got on a couple of trains, taking about two hours to get to Kyoto. From the train stop we got on a bus. I was suprised to see quite a few foreigners on the train. Kie explained to me that a lot of foreign people come to Kyoto. It was really weird. Until now, I had been the only non japanese person around, and now there were a ton of them! When we got there we stopped by at Touji temple. Whenever I get to a temple area I always get this really uneasy feeling. It's like the second I walk through the gate a blanket of something is thrown over me. Kie is big on praying at the temples, so I stay longer than I normally want, but it still is a good experience.
Then we went to
meet her grandparents, where we would stay. They live in a very old house, and have been for the past fifty years. The company that they ran until recently was in the front, so it had one of those metal gate things closed down over it. Yet when we arrived, up it comes and out pops out a man with gray hair. Ojiisan!
We go in and I meet the grandmother, and we sit around and eat lunch. I dont know why, but I had a weird feeling in the house. After lunch, Ojiisan gave us each a fair amount of money for Gion Matsuri
, a festival. From there we go out and we check out whats going on. I took a lot of pictures of the festival. There was this one ritual of the burning of O-negai
, wishes and prayers of people, so that their prayers will be answered. We then walked around and looked at the various Hoko
. I think their purpose is to give recognition and celebrate different kami
I noticed that Buddhism and Shintoism have combined and become a base of Japanese culture. They eat everything on their plate in order to not anger the
Kami sama in the food. They pray at temples to have their wishes fulfilled. The festivals always have Busshinkyou (Buddhism and Shintoism mixed) at its fullest. The parades, ceremonies, etc; all are religious.
Anyways, afterwards the three of us went back to the house where we at dinner, and then went to sleep. I was in this really really really
old fashioned room. Tatami completely covered the floor and I was on a futon in the middle. At night, I could hear the bus stop (the house was right in front of a bus stop) and could hear the traffic. This also
meant that I could hear the incredibly loud motor bikes frequently going by. Still, I fell asleep.
Day Two- Jimbei and hoko
So I woke up today, went downstairs, got some breakfast etc etc. Kie and I yesterday decided I would wear a jimbei and she would wear a yukata outside. Because it was during a festival time, many people were wearing them. So we put those on, had to take a couple of pictures, and then we set out. When we got to shijou touri the Hoko were already lined up for the parade. Everything
was very organized and well set. The entire thing was basically an incredibly large religious parade.
We checked that out for a while, and then we went around looking for stuff. We were looking for classic style japanese shoes for my jimbei, but none of the stores had them in my size! I just really enjoyed going around trying the different food, looking at the buildings, the people, etc. Kyoto is a modern place, but it is also a place where the old and the new coexist almost seamlessly. One street has a ton of cars and stores, and the next is a small stone street with wood houses, taking you back to a time before major western influence. All we really did for the entire day was walk around, look at shops, talk, the normal stuff you would do. We stopped by Ojiisan's house for lunch. We then had about a three or four hour break. I went up to my room to rest. Ojiisan brought a bunch of bilingual picture books. They were all old stories from old Kyoto. Some dating back even one thousand years ago. So after the rest we at dinner, then off we
went again. When it came to be night, we were walking by a bunch of food vendors, and i tried some interesting foods. Yaki Soba
, was the first one. It was just soba noodles cooked on a pan after it had been boiled. The second was Ika yaki
, grilled squid. I got the top of a squid and just bit it off a stick. Both were really good. After a while we got tired, so we went home.
Day Three- Wrapping it up
So I woke up to the sound of Obaasan's voice. AASAA KUNN, AASAA KUN! OKITA?. "Haaai!", I quickly answered. I changed my clothes and went down stairs. I had my normal two slices of toast and jam for breakfast, but then something unexpected happened:
Gurepu furuutsu o taberareru?. I quickly look to Obaasan and I see half of a grapefruit on a plate for me. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted, even thought I knew I hated grapefruit. Although, when I actually tried it, it wasnt that bad. So I am glad I accepted .
After breakfast, we packed up, Ojiisan gave us some more money, and then until four we
went sight-seeing. We went to rokuonji, a small living area for some man from the heian period. It was his get-away. On the bus ride there, there were four english speaking people; one from America, one from Holland, and one from England. Ok, ok, there were three
english speaking people. They all talked loudly and talked for the entire time. Japanese people enjoy quite. Most of the time I spent with the family in Kie's house, or with Kie walking around has been in silence. It was weird to have that silence so suddenly broken. When we got to Rokuonji, we had to buy tickets, and the tickets were really cool looking pieces of paper (see picture). When we actually got in there, the sight was breathtaking. There was a beautiful man-made pond. Everything was so serene and so calm. In the center was rokuonji, a three story building, with two stories covered in real gold leaf paint. As we walked around, i felt like I had stepped back in time, althought the other tourists were quite distracting.
After Rokuonji, we went took a bus to Kiyomizu temple, another amazing structure. It was really hot, and really out of
the way. So we walked uphill in the burning sun for about thirty minutes. I wa ready to die! Before we went into Kiyomizu, we went into this underground area with no lights. It was supposed to represent the womb of this one Buddhist goddess. You grab onto the buddhist beads to guide your way around, and then you get down to this little room with a single shaft of light shining down on a rock with the Goddesses sign. You are supposed to turn the stone and make a wish. When we left, we finally went to Kiyomizu temple. It was built on the side of a mountain and was really beautiful. If I turned my head one way, Ｉ ｓａｗ a beautiful forest and mountain range. I turn my head the other way, and I see a large Buddha. Whenever I am around these temples I have weird feelings. We went to visit the various shrines, and I saw that there was a photographer with a model. She didnt seem like any ordinary model, if you get what I mean. That was really strange to see. As we ventured down the side of the temple we came to a place where
pure water falls. You are supposed to take a cup and drink the water, and while drinking the water, make a wish; praying to the kami is optional. Kie asked me to drink, so I did, but I didnt pray to the kami there. Whenever I am near these images I always feel like I need to pray to God for protection.
After that, we ate Soba noodles at a restaurant, and then went home. My shoulders were aching from carrying my backpack for so long. I read on the train. We stopped by Namba before going to Tondabayashi-shi in order to look at electronic dictionaries. Mine is eleven years old, so I thought it would be beneficial to get a newer one. The cheapest ones I found were 15,000 yen (As of writing, the yen is 121.920 to the dollar, you do the math). The most expensive? Over 70,000 yen. I need to see with my parents if they will let me get one. The one that I really want is about 25,000 yen.
After leaving the shop,we went home. Kie's mom picked us up. We talked a little about the experience, then I took a shower
and went to sleep.
There you have it, my time in Kyoto.
There are more photos below