Japan 2009: Wednesday, April 22nd
Today was our last full day in Kyoto, so it began (rather early) with my doing laundry, of course :) By the time we got our acts together & got out of the house it was after 10:00 am. We were headed back to the Kiyomizudera & surrounding shops, to do a bit more omiyage shopping before leaving Kyoto.
I’ve been thinking about how different so many of our experiences have been this trip to Japan, compared to the first, & it’s mostly due to our speaking & understanding more Japanese... Last time we were here I was intimidated by not being able to read signs or ask about the things I was seeing. I didn’t do much shopping, really, because I couldn’t find the things I really wanted to buy. This time, when I leave our machiya, I don’t feel nearly so much in a cocoon. I can puzzle out so many more of the signs, recognise what the shops are selling, can ask for specific items I’m looking for. I’ve lost track of the times people have asked us if we live in Japan. And really, although we’ve been studying Japanese for nearly 4 years, there is so much more to be learned. I’ve definitely run into my limits, language-wise, more than once (sometimes because I’m just too tired to find the words in my brain) but I have enough peripheral words that I can get by. It’s so much more fun to be here now- as I expected. And we are definitely shopping more- I feel as though we’re bringing back gifts for half our city :)
If we thought that going to the temple on a weekday would make it any less busy, we were mistaken... holy moly, I think there were more people today than last Saturday. We did visit the temple briefly (I took the video of Brendan doing the water purification before entering the temple for his school project) & bought our last omamori there, then decided it was too crowded & headed out. After shopping a bit, we found a lovely sweets shop with a cafe upstairs (blessedly quiet compared to the street level teeming with omiyage-seeking schoolkids). Charlie decided to have oyakudon (rice bowl with chicken & egg), while Brendan & I went the sweets route. My wagashi (traditional sweets served with matcha tea) were fabulous. We got a small box of one type to take to Tokyo with us, they were so good. As we walked farther & farther down the hill toward home the crowds thinned out until we could navigate without fear of being trampled. Brendan & I find crowds particularly stressful, so we were very ready for home & a rest.
I rested for about 45 minutes & then decided to do our dinner grocery shopping. I will really miss this neighbourhood. It’s become very familiar & comfortable while we’ve been here. When I arrived back from shopping a neighbour was leaving her machiya &, in response to my “konnichiwa” (hello) she replied “okaerinasai” (welcome home), which gave me a lovely feeling that I really was home :)
We spent the rest of the day resting, working on Brendan’s blog & school project, & occasionally catching funky anime on tv. We had a “clean the fridge” dinner & then Brendan & I caught an episode of “Detective Conan”, which is a venerable & still very popular anime here. Now Brendan is getting ready for the ofuro (Charlie used it this afternoon), perhaps the time last this trip, since the apartment in Tokyo that we’ll be staying in next may not have the big tub we’ve grown so fond of :) I keep thinking it’s a good thing we’re looking forward to seeing Shizuka & Jon (our Japanese teacher & her husband, who are also on a visit to Japan) in Tokyo on Friday, otherwise I’d be having even more trouble with the idea of leaving Kyoto. Tomorrow- the shinkansen to Tokyo!