11/16/08
K's House Hostel, Kyoto

This morning I took a shower, turned out they had shampoo and stuff after all. Before I left, one of the employees gave me a map and marked some interesting places to see.

Outside Kintetsu-Nara station there was a huge shopping bazaar, sorta like Asakusa but with a lot more variety. I found a nice place to eat breakfast and then explored the area. I found this wonderful little shop full of anime themed action figures, puzzles and card games. Everything was half off, too. I was carrying two days of clothes etc. in my backpack, so I couldn't just buy everything in sight. I did find some kind of cheap Hikaru no Go trading card game, I got a starter and a few packs. No clue how to play, but the cards are nifty. I picked up a little portable 9x9 go set at a dollar store, but it turned out to be (surprise) really cheaply made. Oh well.

I saw a mochi shop doing their thing, it was a kind of rhythmic thing with two dudes with hammers pounding away. Then they switched to one dude with a smaller hammer and another who flipped the mochi with his hands between hits, and they cranked it up to a really high speed. They really trusted each other and had really good rhythm to do that, it was amazing.

I met with Katie and her friend Kaz at 1:45 at the station, although I did some hiking trying to figure out which station we were meeting at. We went up to a restaurant on the 8th floor of the station, the tallest building in the area. We got a corner window table, it was an awesome view.

We walked through Nara park, saw lots of completely fearless deer. They would come up to you and bow, in the hopes of getting biscuits you could buy at little stands. We visited the Todaiji temple, it cost to get in, but it was really cool. Todaiji is the home of the Daibutsu, the largest buddha in Japan. The temple that houses it is the world's biggest wooden building. I bought some souvenirs, including a little fortune dispenser. I tried it twice and got 'normal' luck both times, and decided not to push it. Katie got 'terrible' luck, and Kaz got 'good' luck. It took some considerable willpower to resist getting the pink deer antlers and the plushie katana that squeaked whenever you whacked anything with it.

After we saw that, we went down to Kofukuji, another temple area. It was getting dark by the time we got there, so then we headed back to the shopping area to look around some more. Then Katie had to leave, and Kaz walked me to the JR Nara station.

The train ride to Kyoto took about an hour, although I was on the local train. Kyoto station is probably the coolest station architecturally I've seen so far. Kyoto is a lot more urban than Nara, something that was apparent as I walked to the hostel. (Turns out I was right about Nara being old; it's the oldest capital city in Japan, about to celebrate its 1300th anniversary in two years.) As you walk out the station, you're greeted with Kyoto Tower, a space-needly thing on top of a hotel. The directions were a bit less clear, but I found the hostel ok. This place is totally different from the one in Nara. It's two buildings, three and five stories, with a very modern aesthetic and card keys and stuff. There aren't any Japanese people staying here either, that I've met in the common area at least.

This was about 9:00, so I went out to find something to eat. There were some restaurants, but it's not that interesting to eat out alone. I found a convenience store and got some soba and natto. The soba turned out to be on some sort of jellied broth that was supposed to liquify in the microwave, it wasn't all that good. The natto roll was good though. I'm finally starting to get a taste for the stuff.

I ate and hung out in the common room until about 10, when Simon showed up. We've been figuring out plans for tomorrow and chatting, now he's reading a book while I type this. It's pretty late, I should go to bed.

EDIT 11/24/08: blogger ate the luck. Fixed now.

3 comments:

mamagotcha said...

Did you take any deer or buddha pictures? (she said hopefully)

Need Flickr access? Lemme know...

Hostels are AWESOME. So is Servas, an int'l exchange program.

Julia said...

I can't believe you would actually pay money for natto. Just blow your nose and scrape out the Kleenex, it's the same thing.

Jeff said...

I don't suppose you remember the old wooden mochi pounder (about three feet tall, two feet in diameter, with short wooden legs) that my dad had plants growing in (the bottom had been knocked to smithereens... it was carved from softwood). I actually remember pounding mochi with it, but we weren't quite as theatrical about it as they are in the festival ceremonies.