Japan Day 15- Kyoto...
Well, we seem to be getting accustomed (body-clock-wise) to being in this part of the world, because we all slept past 6:00 am today :) We went for breakfast at the coffee shop we discovered yesterday, called the "Colorado Cafe" (in Kyoto, Japan- go fig...). We all had the morning special of coffee or tea & lovely thick slices of toast, baked right there. Charlie added a "healthy salad" to his breakfast- it was coleslaw, really. Brendan had his first cafe latte, to mixed reviews (more bitter than cafe au lait :).
After breakfast we went back to the hotel to figure out the day's plan. Along with our Lonely Planet Kyoto guidebook, we are also using 2 books by Diane Durston, one with walking tours of Kyoto (a gift from our friends, the Scotts- thanks guys!) & one called "Old Kyoto", lent to us by our neighbour (thanks Joe!). We decided to make a short trip (3 stops) on the subway to the Gion district, which is the famous geisha territory in Kyoto. At 10:00-ish in the morning we were not likely to run into any geisha, but there were a lot of historical places to see, including some shinto shrines. Brendan was bothered a bit by tics, but setting kekkais helped, & the thought of visiting shrines motivated him quite a bit, too. He says he feels much better, tic-wise, after visiting a shrine (& he certainly copes better for a while). The subway wasn't busy at all & the signs were in english as well, so it wasn't hard to find our way. I had found some shops to look for in the "Old Kyoto" book, which features places that have been run by the same families for generations.
Our first stop was the Tatsumi Shrine, in Gion, a shrine dedicated to the arts. It sits at the top of the triangle of streets that borders the Gion district & is right next to the historic Shimbashi Bridge. It's very lovely & Brendan payed his first respects of the day there.
From there we walked a few blocks to the Yasaka Jinja, which dates from 1660. On the way over we found a shop selling a favourite omiyage from Kyoto, little candies in miniature obento boxes. They are really cute & the candy is really delicious (not the bland kind we get in the US). We got some to take home as gifts & some for us, of course. They also had fans there, not terribly expensive, & Brendan had been wanting a fan that was more japanese (than the Snoopy one we found at the 7-11 in Tokyo). I decided to get one, too, since it was pretty hot & muggy. (We did some damage at the drinks machines, too, due to the heat).
The Yasaka Jinja is a shinto temple- well, really a whole bunch of shrines. It was amazing. Brendan kept hitting us up for coins to put in the boxes (in denominations with 5 in them, for good luck :) so he could ring the bells & pay his respects. He had a wonderful time walking around there finding all sorts of shrines big & small. Charlie & I enjoyed all of the different, beautiful things to see in & on the shrines.
The lanterns were amazing...
And we were excited to see a miko, a shrine maiden, walking around. A very InuYasha touch!
After our visit to Yasaka we wandered back in the direction of the subway station looking for someplace to eat on the way (it was after noon by now). We headed into a couple of places but Brendan backed-out just as quickly because they were too smoky or smelled of fish. We did find one of the places in the "Old Kyoto" book, that sells things made from antique fabrics, so picked up some omiyage there. The owner put 5 yen coins in each gift before wrapping it, for good luck. We also saw 2 women wearing kimono as we walked back to the subway. Not finding a suitable place to eat, we finally decided to take the subway back & go to the convenience store again for bowl noodles & onigiri to take back to the hotel (& get more for dinner). I am enjoying being in Kyoto so much that I no longer feel deprived by not eating out :) Anyway, the onigiri are really good here- I got a little container of japanese pickles, too, & they were delicious. Charlie has discovered inarizushi- pockets of sweetened, fried tofu stuffed with rice- & he loves them, so he got more of those for his lunch.
We spent the afternoon hanging out in our room. Charlie had read about a small garden near the hotel that dates from 700 AD (!) & we thought we'd take a walk over, but Brendan was pretty ticcy in the afternoon, so I decided to stay with him & Charlie walked over to check it out. I have been doing some hand-sewing while we're in Japan, making some of the omiyage bags designed by Kumiko Sudo (from her book by the same name), so I was content to sit & stitch the afternoon away while Brendan alternated between Adventure Quest & tv for distraction from tics. We put on the NHK educational station at 4:30 & watched through dinner. It was a lot of fun- not just Pythagoras Switch, but other nifty shows (some were pretty goofy & gave Brendan serious giggles, which was neat). One even showed how aburage, what inarizushi is made from, is made! After dinner we played Uno together & Charlie planned tomorrow's trip, based on the weather (it looks to be the only non-rainy day for the rest of our visit). We're hoping to go to Uji, just outside of Kyoto, the tea-growing region. Ryokucha wo kaitai!! (I want to buy green tea!).