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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« japanese bath | Main | shinkansen »

kyoto arrival

(continuation of a multi-part Blathering, begin here)

Wednesday, September 5th (cont'd)

Kyoto shinkansen station is very large and full of a zillion interesting little shops. I forced Jeff to wait while I browsed a few. There were shops of Japanese delicacies, beautifully hand-painted fans, laquerware, chopsticks...a souvenir-shopper's dream, or at least one with a lot of money. I ended up not buying anything here (though I did do a lot of drooling) because of the prices. A child's fan cost about CAN$30, for example (yikes), though I'm sure it was a good quality fan. If you're looking for high-class Japanese souvenirs to take home, however, this is definitely the place.

Jeff used the washroom facilities in Kyoto station, and came out looking somewhat odd. He said that a woman started cleaning the urinal beside him in the men's bathroom, very matter-of-factly. Definitely not something that happened very often back home in Toronto. :-)

The Kyoto tourist office was excellent, with a ton of useful maps and information. All the staff spoke English.

Despite the heat, we decided to do a 50-minute walk from the station to our ryokan rather than take a bus so we could enjoy looking around our surroundings along the way. Very interesting people-watching opportunities, and the scenery was already much prettier than in Tokyo despite the fact that we were so near the train station. In such an idyllic area, Jeff was self-conscious about the sound of the wheels of his carry-on rattling on the road, feeling compelled to pick it up sometimes and carry it by the handle instead.

I saw my first crane while we walked along a shallow river...I was pretty excited; I'd only seen cranes in Japanese artwork and books, after all. It was wading on the rocks, looking for things to eat in the water (small fish, maybe? insects?). From time to time, its head would dart forward as it grabbed something.

Soon we came to an area with small streets and more traditional-type buildings. On the way, we passed four women dressed in kimonos, sweeping leaves from a street. The scene was so unexpected, so enchanting, that I felt like just standing there like a gaping tourist (which I was, of course). But it was hot, and Jeff and I were anxious to get to the ryokan, and I took a "stealth picture" instead. I'm getting pretty good at taking stealth pictures, where I take photos with my camera without making it look like I'm taking photos. Not all of them turn out, of course, but it's a way of getting interesting people shots without sticking my camera in their face.

We found the street where our ryokan was supposed to be located, Shin-monzen dori", and found the Yoshi Ima itself by recognizing the kanji symbol on a banner by the entrance.

We were finally here, woohoo!

Next: Our first experience with a Japanese bath, first night's feast!

Today's Blatherpics:

- The entrance to Yoshi-Ima, the ryokan we stayed at for two nights.

- Fashion-conscious Kyoto youth. Jeff and I have both seen many girls like this in Japan so far.

- Kyoto intersection. One of the things I've loved about Japan is seeing women in traditional costume mingling casually with the bustle of regular traffic.

- There were a LOT of cyclists in Kyoto. Like Tokyo cyclists, none wore helmets (including infants!!). This photo shows a double-rider style we saw quite a few times in Japan.

- Scene we passed on our walk from Kyoto train station to the ryokan: four women in kimonos, sweeping leaves.

Today's Poll: (courtesy Alison George)

Do you feel you live in a safe neighbourhood?

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