Japan Trip Day 3 - 2010-07-06

Photos from today.

Today we planned to check out a few more of the major temples around Kyoto, but first we needed to get some breakfast. We headed up the road where we walked yesterday, since there were a few little breakfast places that looked tasty. We ended up finding one that had an americanized breakfast and decided to give that a try. I'm not up for fish for breakfast quite yet.

It was pretty tasty, and almost exactly what we had at our hotel yesterday, but rather than an 'omelette' they had a fried egg. Plus, it was about 1/3 the cost, so I was pretty pleased.

As we walked around this area, we stumbled upon a stationary shop where Kellian wanted to pop in. I had forgotten my puzzle collector business cards, so we tried to ask if they were able to print some for me. This was a real challenge because the shop owner spoke zero English. Kellian managed to communicate with her through a combination of gestures and drawings, but unfortunately it was going to take 7 days for the job to be complete and we didn't have that kind of time. Oh well! The shop keeper seemed to have a fun time trying to figure out what the heck we were talking about.

Next, we decided to head over to Nijo Castle, which looked like it would be pretty cool. After walking for about 20 minutes in the sweltering heat to get there, we discovered that it was closed on Tuesdays. How randomly annoying!

Since we were really hot and tired from our walk, we decided to take the subway over to our next site, which would be Nishi-Honganji Temple and Koshoji Temple. On the way we stopped by a Kinkos to get some more business cards made. The guy at Kinkos didn't speak much English either, but he knew enough to figure out that I wanted him to photocopy my old cards in black and white onto white paper.

In this area, we also found a bookstore that had a nice looking phrasebook that we thought would come in handy.

We continued on to the temples, though the walk was fairly unpleasant. We walked along a major road which wasn't nearly as nice as the little backstreets around our hotel. Getting tired of this, we cut in along some of the side streets, but it was just a residential area, so that wasn't much fun either.

Eventually we ended up at Nishi-Honganji and Hosoji Temples. They were quite large and very cool looking, though not a whole lot different from the other temples to our untrained eyes. We sat in each one for a little bit to rest and cool off before heading on our way.

Next,  we made our way over to the Higashi-Honganji Temple, which is evidently the largest wooden structure in the world according to a sign that was posted outside. It was magnificent (check out the photos of the outside) but it wasn't orders of magnitude larger than the other temples, though it was pretty large.

After that, we headed to get some lunch. We were looking for a particular restaurant that we saw in the Lonely Planet guidebook that we had, but unfortunately once we found it, it was closed. Some Japanese folks walked up while we were figuring out what to do, and they were also surprised that it was closed. They headed into the place next door, so we followed suit.

It ended up being a nice little restaurant, it looked like it was family run with the father cooking and his daughter and wife waiting tables. We ended up sitting at the bar, which was nice since I was a bit tired of sitting on tatami mats while eating. They didn't have an english menu, so I told them in Japanese that Kellian didn't eat fish or meat with a phrase that a friend, Justin, gave me before we left.

They understood, and after conferring a bit determined that veggie tempura would be a good bet. I told them fish was fine with me. Our lunches were quite tasty. Mine consisted of a small lump of fish and some veggies in a sauce, some spongy white blocks in another type of sauce (I don't think it was tofu), rice, and  some miso. It was all pretty tasty! Kellian had the same stuff, but rather than fish she had some tempura which was also good.

After that, we headed back out into the heat to check out Shosei-en Garden, which sounded pretty cool. It was very green with water throughout the garden. After hanging out there for a while, we decided to make our way back to the hotel to rest and find some air conditioning.

After enjoying some AC and Avatar for a bit, we headed over to the Gion area to grab some dinner before checking out a traditional Japanese culture show that Kellian wanted to see. We stopped by before eating to make sure we could get tickets, and ended up staying for the earlier show rather than returning later.

I was pretty tired and hungry at this point, but the show was only 50 minutes, so we thought it woul be good to do it now rather than rushing back from dinner. The show wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It started out with a Japanese tea ceremony, accompanied by live Koto, Japanese harp, and some folks doing Kado, Japanese flower arrangement. Any one of those by themselves would have  been a bit dull, but everything happening at once kept it more interesting.

Next, they had some Gagaku, which is Japanese court music, that was really unpleasant. It was quite shrill and dischordant. After that, there was a traditional comic play that was mildly amusing. Then there was some Kyoto Style Dance, with the dancers dressed in elegant kimonos. This was also not particularly impressive. Finally, was a puppet play (Bunraki) that was pretty cool. There was only one puppet doing some sort of monologue, and it took three people to manipulate the puppet.

After that, we headed out to find some dinner. We found a neat looking narrow side street that looked promising, but it was completely deserted, so we didn't know if the restaurants would be closed. We ran across a Geisha who bid us 'good evening' (konbanwa), as she passed and disappeared behind a closed door. Neat!

Eventually, we settled on a restaurant that looked decent (thought it was hard to tell), and went inside. We were pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be quite nice. We had learned our lesson from the prior night and ordered three dishes, since they tend to be small. We started out with some fried tofu in a sweet sauce, that was pretty good.

I ordered salted sweet fish, which ended up being a whole fish, though it was tiny. It was quite intimidating since I couldn't even figure out how to get into it: the skin was completely in tact. Eventually I just tore it open and started eating. It wasn't bad, but there wasn't a lot of meat on it. Kellian had some grilled eggplant with miso sauce that was also pretty tasty.

It was 9:30 and we were completly exhausted since we didn't take a nap, so we took a cab back to our hotel and went to bed.

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