Monday, December 28, 2009

Hannah Comes to Town part 6

Thursday:

This was Kyoto day. Our morning was pretty lazy. Hannah and I ate breakfast and messed around, trying to create as Japanese an outfit for her as possible.

Notice the dress worn over an already-complete outfit, the hat, and the abundant accessories. The cell phone needed a few charms hanging from the end. A conversation that I believe centered around America’s Next Top Model and trying to look good in pictures lead to our picture story for the day. Hannah claimed that the trick to looking good in all those waist-up pictures was to thrust one’s chest and chin forward. Naturally, we exaggerated, giggling at each other, then the elbows came up…There is no title for our silliness, but photographs do show a theme.

I spent 880 at the post office sending packages to the U.S. I hope my earrings reached Texas. Hannah sent some postcards to her family and we were off to Kyoto (400 yen).

I should preface by saying that I had scheduled another stop by Chion-in, which is an old and cool temple that operates as a monk training center. I failed to check hours of operation for our destinations, though, and a fairly lazy morning meant a cutting Chion-in from the agenda.

Our first stop was Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. There’s a lot of history that goes into it. It was built to match Kinkakuji, or the Gold Pavilion, a temple (or something) that really is covered in gold. Ginkakuji was supposed to be covered with silver (kin and gin mean gold and silver, respectively) but someone had died, or something something money, and it was left in its pure wooden glory. I’d heard and read that Kinkakuji was overrated, but that Ginkakuji was an absolute must-see. Silver Pavilion it was.

There are public sightseeing buses that run through Kyoto. They’re usually green and there is a voice that announces the stops in English after the Japanese. They’re also really cheap—210 to Ginkakuji, which is the last stop before the bus turns around and heads in the other direction.

The first of the silliness appears on our way into Ginkakuji.

It costs 500 yen to experience Ginkakuji’s tranquil gardens. The roof of the pavilion was in the process of being re-thatched, so we couldn’t enter it or get really breathtaking photos, but it was still pretty.


There’s a sizeable rock garden, featuring the Sacred Mound and the silhouette of silliness. Silhouette, by the way, is an incredibly difficult word to spell off the top of one’s head.
I took a lot of pictures of the large moss garden as we walked around, mostly because it seemed like the setting for a movie about woodland spirits.

The coins in the pond are centered around the rock on the lower left. The goal, it seems, is to land a coin on the submerged rock. Hannah went first and succeeded. I failed twice.


Kyoto as viewed from where the people in the previous picture stood.
Ginkakuji from the inside.



This area, as many Japanese gardens are, has likely been landscaped to resemble something in miniature. The sea, perhaps, or the Steppes of Central Asia. Borodin reference done-zo. I don't know what it was supposed to represent exactly, but it was fascinating. It was like Middle Earth in miniature. This whole garden made me want to sit down and write a fantasy novel about faeries and magick.

I also tried my darndest to think of a way to practice my French on a couple of francophone tourists, but failed. Instead, Hannah took this picture.
I don't know what my hands are doing.

Hannah and I hopped back on the city bus (another 210) to get to Kiyomizudera. Kiyomizudera (KEE-yo-MEE-zoo-DEH-rah) is one of the top tourist spots in Japan because of its amazing views, weird history, and holy water. Side note: anything labeled “dera” is a temple, all “jinja” are shrines. Guidebooks that call it “Kiyomizudera temple,” are redundant repeaters.

Kiyomizu is a hike from the bus stop. I’ve already posted pictures LINK (fixed, thanks to Gillian's eyes) from when I went with my teacher. Hannah pondered the purchase of souvenirs. Then sun began to set. Life was a bowl of cherries.

See the big gate on the left? Behind the lattices are guardians, also known as bare chested, beer bellied, pop-eyed half-giants. Ladies, don't count them out just yet. I hear they're really funny and have great personalities.
This was the first time that I had taken the opportunity to look closely. "Hey, Hannah," said I in adult fashion, "look at his nipples!"
Hey, Japan, here's a tip: if you want your guardian statues to be intimidating, don't carve marshmallow flowers where the nipples should be.
Otherwise, little girls might come along and take coins from around your feet. Get your hand outta there, Hannah Rose. (Don't worry, she threw it back in a pond somewhere in the temple)
Kiyomizudera is, as previously mentioned (I think), one the most popular tourist spots in Japan. There's the old deck from which to jump for love, the water with which to purify your innards, and maybe some other stuff that's a lot more important to you if you're Buddhist.

Oh, but I'm so happy to be aliiiiiiiive.
Shoulders back, chin and chest out, and leap. This shot took so many tries. At one point I asked Hannah, "Are you just telling me to do it again to see me jump around?" and some stranger walking past said, "Yeah, I think she is."
I'm guessing this is a one-person bell, maximum.
Hannah nails the model pose. Someone's been practicing on pathways to historic sites.

The hills of Kyoto. Anyone who wants to visit, raise your hand. Okay, now use that hand to quit spending money on dumb stuff like food, and buy a plane ticket.
These flowers bloomed in profusion along the pathways of Kiyomizu temple.
I think, though I am no longer sure, that it was around here where Hannah returned the half-giant's treasure. It was probably better off in the holy water. No one wants a dirty coin.

The sun began to set around the time we were leaving. Kyomizu temple can be a pretty quick trip, depending on how many temples you've visited beforehand. You'll notice a sharp decrease in pictures during this day and the following.

Nothing like seeing the sun set over the mountains.

Hannah may need to confirm the timing of the following event, but I believe it was on the way back down from Kiyomizudera that we stopped for ice cream bread. What is ice cream bread? Why, I'll tell you (since I didn't think to take a picture). It's ice cream sandwiched between two halves of a round, crusty roll. Think of a bread bowl for soup, but smaller and with Japanese green tea ice cream instead of soup. Dang tasty.

The streets on the way up and down from Kiyomizudera are full of shops and stalls, mostly catering to tourists. Hannah bought some souvenirs for family members and I tried to lead us over to Maruyama park, which is just west of Kiyomizudera.

I got us lost.

That was pretty much it. I paid 147 for coffee on the way to Sanjo street. We paid 210 to get from Sanjo Keihan station to Nijo, then 360 to reach Kameoka. While on the train I received a call from Margaret, telling me that my rabbit had been spotted (we all know how that ended, so I won't tell you how that felt). I had skipped aikido the week prior to prep for Hannah's visit, so I went that night, leaving Hannah to her own devices. I know, I was a terrible host. I paid my dues at aikido, got thrown around, and the teacher told me in English that I have "wonderful hips." Don't get your onesie in a twist, kids. He was talking about my steady stance.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Goodbye, Rabbit. Hello, America.

video
The ladies at the kindergarten were very nice and spoke to me in a lot of rapid Japanese while I pretended to understand ("Hm, so desu ne," will cover just about anything). I know Kuma is going to be in good hands, so outside:
but inside:

See y'all 'mericans tamorry.