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Friday, June 18, 2010

Kyoto log: boot camp 101 , 102

Kyoto 101
Took Hikari bullet train from Tokyo , reached Kyoto about 3pm. We were in the smoking cabin, even granny woman was inside smoking. Again love the convenience of buying snacks in train. Took some photo with the kawaii jap sales girl hehe.

Put our luggage in ,went separate way with travel mate Kelvin Lim as he was not interested in Geisha hunting.

Embarking on my journey ,put on my headphone, batt died just 50 steps after I walked out of 9hours around Karasuma area. Crossed the Kamo river to Gion area(hanami koji area), asking directions from strangers and police sometimes using sign language.

Arrived at Hanami Koji, excited as I enter the street full of Edo? period houses. Saw a granny in Kimono(it later became common sighting in Kyoto every where), excited at photographing her. Took out map and noticed Kiyomizu-dera temple is near, knowing it was 5pm and 7pm Gion corner show wont be starting soon and Geisha hunting/spotting was not very fruitful at all, hailed a cabbie straight to Kiyomiz-dera temple(largest wooden terrace temple).

Had a quick 1 hour tour around, took some photo, too bad sun was setting behind the temple, it became difficult to shoot, i took them in raw file knowing i had to photoshop quite a bit for this one. Hailed another cab back to Gion area back to Hanami Koji area, as i walked towards Gion Corner I came across this junction(sorry its in chinese i lazy to setup on this lappie i borrowed from first cabin and this machine is in jap) where lots of photographer loitering around. I stoppped and asked , they said its this area where Geisha stays and have their hair make up before going for show at Gion corner or private tea house for performance(more authentic).

Finally spotted 2 Geisha , and went to Gion Corner for cultural performance, it was eye opening. 1 of it was a cultural show that was brought to Japan from china in Tang dynasty, and according to brochure China lost this tradition.

Walked around Hanami koji i felt like I am back in Edo? period. Spotted another Geisha walking out from tea house(dont know if my quick shot turns out to be good,no computer to view it) .Awesome experience. Asked random strangers for Shiarakawa area(introduced by, wasted a bit of time waklking around , finally arrived scenic shirakawa. Took photos, and walked across back Kamo river looking for restaurant by the Kamo river for some more sushis.

Generally in Kyoto,Japan they have beautiful ladies serving up front(business tactic), most of the places are 'hidden', not much pictures, a lil expensive about 30-50 oz dollars for a set meal. I didnt mind paying for the experience but trouble reading menus, and not knowing some of those closed doors what are those.

FInally spotted 1 with sushi pictures, went in excited, almost everyone looked at me as if I was from outer space(hey there were other gaijin,foreigners, too!). Brushing off the looks I askde for menu. Pointing to 7 types of sushie 20 oz dollars plate, he showed me the plate asked me 'size' , i said normal, he was confused, I said..'this big?' , he nodded, i guess he was concerned whether i could finished.

Chose another sashimi, pointed at sashimi sliced raw turban shell (ike sazae), the other highlight was whale meat, had few more slim sushi rolls. bill came out about 21 oz dollars. Asked for light from two guys across the table twice. On 2nd time he asked me whether I am chinese I said yes and he asked where I am from I told him Malaysian staying in Brisbane. He asked me "ni hao ma ?"(how are you in mandarin) , i answered "hao"(good).This is the first time in Japan a Japanese speak my language. Apparently he is a business man and is going to go Shanghai for business.

Went back to 9hrs and called in a night.

Kyoto bootcamp 102
Checked out 9hrs ,went to convenience store for some rice sushi rolls and vege fruits juice for breakfast. While looking for first cabin , a guy about 40ish approached us after seeing us asking for direction from police. He speaks minimal malay and mandarin. Travel mate was a bit skeptical, but i was kinda ok. Turned out he was indeed some random nice people, thank God. He was from Osaka.

Headed to Kinkakuji temple (golden temple) by bus. Off to Ryoanji temple (zen garden) by bus. Off to Tenryuji temple(zen temple of 600 years , unesco world heritage. the zen master was from India). Came back to first cabin by a very nice old train.

Hung out at first cabin, had some beer served by good looking lady with make up and first cabin uniform. First cabin first class is awesome, 32 inch white lcd, spacious room. Had a couple of beer and nissi noodle cup(its better than the normal we have in oz/Malaysia).

My feeling towards to Kyoto is its like Ipoh in Malaysia. It has a lot of preserved tradition buildings ,culture and dressing(kimono and guys dressing in tradtional dress is common here, you can see them catching trains) .

Side note : if the train or sth looks old, it can be deceiving as they are clean, functional, or even high tech in certain sense. Hats off to the Japs.

If I had to use adjectives for Japan, it would be clean,innovative, intelligent consumerism business, high moral value society(its debateable when it comes to woman and man's 'equality'), presentable in looks(men or women generally have nice hairstyle, i wonder how they maintain it!!, make ups for women, suit up for working guys, nice uniform from kindergarden to high school).

I had a rushed Kyoto bootcamp for 2 days but it was worthwhile. I experienced a lot of the old Japan here in Kyoto, and the modern Japan in Tokyo.

I will probably blog about 'unplugged Japan' learning from my travel mate.

For now , good night Kyoto,

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