Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On the Wings of a Whimsy Bird

Our room with futons at the ready
Recently, I arrived back home at the dormitory with three others that had also decided a random trip to Kyoto was necessary. The idea was ushered in and quickly accepted, though highly last minute. Four of us decided together that we would keep trying to find a room for the chance to travel to Kyoto. Alas, it is nearly cherry blossom time and Kyoto is a hot spot for tourists that have had hotels booked long ago, so we ended up having to stay at a ryokan in Tenri. It was quite a bit of a ride from Kyoto, but we were still a lot closer to it than Nagoya! Getting all the way to our hotel took us nearly eight hours. We left our dorm roughly around 12:30 and arrived in our hotel rooms at 8pm.

Tonkatsu Feast
Our rooms were rather cute. They were small with neatly folded up futons. The owner spoke excellent English and was really nice. He gave us a tour, telling us what was available in our rooms and what was available outside of it (like bathrooms and free tea/coffee). The room Hannah and I shared on the first night had a traditional type of door that slides open and the wall separating us from James and Dylan was paper thin! We could hear everything they were saying and surely they could hear everything we were saying (and we did talk for hours into the night when we should have been sleeping). The second night we got moved to the next room that actually had functioning internet and a large fridge that didn't seem to work well.

Shrimp & Avocado sandwhich
The first night we ate at a tonkatsu restaurant. We decided we would buy the five person feast, a large bowl of rice, and simply chow down till we couldn't anymore. The feast consisted of two types of fried pork and fried shrimp. It was deliciousness, indeed. The next day we made our way to Kyoto, where breakfast took place at Avanti by or in (I couldn't tell) the station. Hannah and Dylan had crepes while James and I ate at subway. I ordered the 'ebiabocado' sandwhich. It contained shrimp, avacado, lettuce, pickles, and tomato all on sesame bread. It was amazing!

Hannah was determined to meet her ol' host family while we were in Kyoto, because they recently moved there, so we wandered around the area the station was in for a while before a meeting was finally in place. Much to my surprise, as I had thought we would meet them, hang out for a while, then carry on, they ended up taking us around Kyoto in their suv. It truly was very sweet. It was not only nice to have a ride, but to have the extra company going around to Temples.
(This is a video of Dylan playing 
Rock Paper Scissors with Kotaro)

A picture of a picture of Sanjusan
First we went to Sanjusan Gendo. It is a Buddhist temple that contains rows and rows of these golden kannon statues. It is forbidden to take photos within the temple, so naturally I don't have any photographs that were taken myself. At the entrance of this temple you are required to removed your shoes, then you travel around through the long room filled with kannon and other statues before you're brought around a museum like exhibit of artifacts and information, then leading you to a blooming sakura tree. Even though much of the history I read while within this temple did not stick in my brain, it truly was a memorable event.


The next temple we visited was Toufuku-ji. It is also a Buddhist temple that was simply filled with beautiful scenes to capture. It was far too much for me to squeeze into one blog! Not only the buildings were beautiful, but the gardens were outstanding. First was the rock garden. I have seen many pictures of such things, but nothing comes close to actually seeing it yourself. It was serene in a way that actual plants could not reproduce. Simply gazing upon the intricately raked garden full of rocks was both awe-striking and soothing. It seemed to have a sense of peace about it that is hard to put into words. Later, I saw the moss garden. It was designed with square blocks set out much like a chess board, but the black squares were replaced with beautiful green. It was the epitome of gorgeous and simple.

Cheese Omelet Curry
After Toufuku-ji, we went to a cute little curry restaurant in a station before heading to our next destination. I was a little reluctant at first about the idea of curry in that moment (I was still feeling car sick), but I was delightfully surprised with a quite delicious sweet curry. Plus, I ordered the 'chiizuomu' curry. It had a large omelet filled with cheese laid over my rice. That omelet was simply amazing. I could have made a meal out of just that.  I took my time with the delicious dish.

Kyoumizu Temple
The last temple we visited was Kyoumizu temple, which we held off for last for the sake of seeing it all lit up at night. I promise you, if you go to Kyoto visiting Kyoumizu after sunset is worth the long walk it takes to get there. Do it!   It is placed on the side of hills which I call mountains. You're led on a path past beautiful lit up buildings and around through balconies that overlook the foresty hillside. Many of the trees on the side of the hills were lit up with spotlights, giving this magical glow to the greenery. The thought of simply floating away over the edge of the balcony and over that gorgeous forest of glowing trees was too tempting.

Prayers in the trees at Kyoumizu
On our way back to our hotel I found three, not one THREE, different flavors of kit kats at the station. Two I had tried before and I had not. One of the ones I had tried I already knew to have an orgasmic flavor. First, there was green tea flavor, which is one I have tried and wasn't bad. Then, there was the cinnamon cookie flavor, which the best thing I've ever put in my mouth. Lastly, there were pancake flavored kit kats. I tried them to discover that they really do taste like pancakes. That is, pancakes drenched in maple syrup. Alas, I was truly happy with my find and our adventures for the day.

The next day we didn't get much done before we realized we had to get a move on if we were to catch a bus back home in Nagoya. The most adventure we seemed to accomplish was a lot of walking, even more sitting, and eating of okonomiyaki at Nagoya Station. Hannah and I ordered the yaki with soba noodles in it. It was a delight, though I thought the sauce was over done.

Two trains and two busses after our departure from our hotel and we were back home in our dorm... where I was greeted with the lovely sign that said (in Japanese) that I had a package. My first care package from my mother had arrived...and it was massive. I had to have help taking it upstairs. Opening it was like Christmas even without the additions of bows and the Christmas bag my mom threw in. I was so excited when I started digging into the pile of food and even more excited by the time I got to the bottom. I was so excited to start eating it!

I love the Japanese food, but I also miss my American food. It is a fact I cannot deny.

Sakura at Kyoumizu Temple

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