While visiting fall in Kyoto a few weeks ago, I happened upon this little area that was just jam-packed with all these statues of various men doing and holding various things. It was outside of one of the temples that we visited, forgive me, I can’t remember the name at the moment (I totally blame the pregnancy – I can’t seem to remember anything these days).
Last weekend the beautiful, and charming, Ella planned a hike for all of us. We got up early in the morning and headed to Kyoto to enjoy Japan’s beautiful natures (her words, not mine).
The trailhead was about a 45 minute bus ride from Kyoto station. Thanks to Ella’s careful planning, we got there easily and we were all ready to start hiking.
Another stop on our one-day tour of Kyoto with Aaron’s supervisor. Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto and it is obvious, there were hoards of people everywhere. Including a particularly large group of junior high students on a school trip, a small group of them came and introduced themselves and talked to us for a bit. They were quite interested in talking to Aaron and I, but they never even bothered to talk to his supervisor. Apparently he looked a little too Japanese.
On Monday we travelled to Kyoto with one of Aaron’s supervisors to enjoy a day of sightseeing. The first stop we made was at Ryoan-ji, another world heritage site (wow, we really seem to be hitting a lot of these).
Ryoan-ji is a zen temple located in Northwest Kyoto. One of the temples more prominent features is the traditional rock garden which is thought to have been built in the 1400’s.
Back on that weekend we went to kyoto, danielle and I spend the long hard day walking. Including a long walk back to the station that, unfortunately, didn’t leave us enough time to grab dinner. before we had to be at the station. Both of us were tired, maybe a little crabby, and we had only a little time to find some food before an almost two hour train ride home. We spent time looking through the little mall attached to the station, to no avail. In fact we had given up, gone through the turnstiles and headed down to the platform. That is when we saw it. The curious little noodle shop with the vending machine outside. A golden idea (cuz they were raking in the dough), and perfect for us in every way.
Thus we ate at the train stop noodle shop. This was an awesome little shop, not very wide and packed with people scarfing down noodles. Outside you buy a ticket for a dish from the vending machine, for anywhere from 300 to 500 yen ($3 to $5) depending on the noodles and toppings. Once inside you hand them your ticket, they flash boil you some noodles, add some soup stock and your chosen toppings, and BAM! your eating. The whole cooking process took less then a minute. Once eating you have to stand at the counter, as the noodle shop is too narrow for stools, eating as the trains outside rush by. You finish eating and your on your way. It was awesome, the whole process took us maybe 5 or 6 minutes. After which we were well fed and ready for the long trip home. (well… We were wtill crabby and tired, but well fed anyway. Which helps.)
Last Friday I went with the second year students to Kyoto. There were several things different about this school trip than any other I have been on before.
First, they didn’t call it a trip, they called it an excursion. I spent a lot of time explaining to students and teachers that this was a very fancy word. That it is more natural to call it a trip.
Second, the students and teachers didn’t stay together. Once the bus arrived in Kyoto, the students were all told to be back at 2:00pm. Students and teachers went out on there own to see whatever sights they could in four hours. I spent the four hours walking around with my supervisor and seeing what the Northwest side of Kyoto had to offer.
On Friday I went on a school trip to Kyoto with the second year students at Gifu-kita high school. This meant that I had to wake up far earlier than I am accustomed to and, despite coffee, I was not entirely thrilled to be on a bus at 7am.
The students all piled onto the bus at 7am and off we went, headed towards Kyoto. About five minutes into the bus trip, just as I was considering a little snooze, the tour bus lady moved the television into place and brought out two microphones. For bus karaoke, of course!
As we walked around Kyoto we saw these buckets everywhere. They were on sidewalks, outside of temples, everywhere they were standing at the ready. But, at first, we had no idea what they were and why they were there.
It only took us a moment to stop and read the kanji printed on each bucket. We were unable to read every kanji on the buckets, but we were able to read the one, exceedingly important, character.
These are fire buckets. Filled with rain water, ready to be used in case flames burst out. Now, I understand the need for precautions around the old temples of Kyoto, many of which have burned down several times in their history. But really, are these small buckets filled with water really going to make a substantial difference? I wonder…
As we were walking away from Nanzen-ji, one of the temples we visited in Kyoto, we were stopped by this little man on his bicycle. On the rack behind his bike he had a variety of hand-painted rocks. He carefully, and patiently, explained to us about the rocks and tried to convince us that we should buy one.
I wasn’t necessarily convinced that I needed one of these rocks for 1,000 yen ($10), but after spending several minutes with this vendor, while he worked so hard to speak with us in English, we decided that yes, we would love one of his rocks.
Then, he spent time carefully describing the rocks to us. Including explaining which scenes in Kyoto they depicted. We ultimately settled on one with two different pictures.