May 272007
 

I’m at my third place of accommodation in three days, but it’s great compared to the rest.  Of course, that wouldn’t be too hard.  Last night I stayed at ‘Kyoto Cheapest Inn’ and it was clear why.  To be honest, the place was as expected, but it was a 20 person dorm, the showers, toilets and chill out area were downstairs, and the reception, beds and internet PC were all in one room.  Not nice.  For a couple of quid more I’m in the fantastic K’s House in Kyoto.   I’ve also booked with them for their place around Fuji which is good.

(Picture : Gion traditional architecture)  Anyway, on initial impressions Kyoto is just another Japanese city.  Once you know it a bit better there are nicer greener or more traditional areas like the Imperial Palace Gardens, the Philosopher’s Walk, or Gion, however it is hard to escape crowds completely, even in low season some places have many schoolkids around on tours.

I’ve went to see a few places but to be honest, like in Asia, as fantastic as temples are they just don’t do it for me.  A fleeting visit is as much as I need, unless I took a book and could chill out in the gardens or whatever.  In saying that, they are impressive, beautiful and can have amazing gardens.

I’m more interested in finding out about the Japanese culture and speaking to people, but that’s the part that’s hard here.  I should have got a guide but I was never organised enough to know where I was going and when.  I went in to watch some of the locals paying Pachinco, a pinball type gambling machine of some sort.  The noise was incredible when I opened the door but I had no idea what they were doing and didn’t even purchase any steel balls to play with as I couldn’t fathom out what they were doing! (Picture : Pachinco hall)

I still laugh when I see the plastic food displays outside cafes and restaurants though – all kinds of displays are made to match the food – even plastic beers,or ice creams!

I have also managed (shock horror) to make up a list of my souvenirs to buy from the craft museum!

I even went to a traditional show at Gion Corner last night which was a waste of my £12 – yet again, nothing wrong with it (apart from all the seats in the theatre being at the same level ensuring a poor view if you weren’t at the front).

Last night I went into a local type bar close to the lively Gion area (I keep getting taken back there) called A-Bar.  It was full of locals with some gaijin too.  I went along there because it was meant to have a good vibe, and  served yakatori style food.  So I ordered a beer, and some fab dishes like ‘Avocado and sashami salmon with wasabi may sauce’ and ‘sashami makura(?) – tuna’.  Superb.

Just as I was paying to go, the locals whose table I was sat down at started pouring me some beer, so I ended up having quite a good laugh with them with broken English, and we got the beer pouring ritual going well (it’s considered almost admitting you are an alcoholic if you fill your own glass….you may thin k I should have carried on but if you fill up theirs, they quickly take the hint ;-> ).  It was my second night in Kyoto and my second taxi home due to missing the last buses.

  (Picture : Kyoto Tower)  Today it was the palace, another temple and a chilled evening in the hostel, as it’s the first I’ve stayed in in Japan that has a decent chill out area, similar to the hostels in New Zealand, but with a Japanese style.

Anyway, tomorrow it’s the tea ceremony with the ‘couchsurfer’, maybe another temple (there are loads but I’m only going to see a few) then the next day I’ll visit Nara for the day, coming back to Tokyo for the night, before going to Osaka the following day.

 Posted by at 2:02 pm

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