Saturday, May 27, 2006

reptiles and samurai

kyoto: saturday, may 27 10:02 p.m.
utah: saturday, may 27 7:05 a.m.

"we'll have an adventure
"and several long trips
"we'll make lots of friends
"and maybe get a bite to eat

as we went to bed last night, there was talk that yoshi was planning to come down to visit us today, and a quick e-mail from her said she would be there in the afternoon. at least, i think she said 'afternoon'. yet i awoke to a phonecall from her, saying that we was waiting at the temple were were going to see that day [this 'one stop a day' plan was really working overall].
so we scrambled as best we could, still having some questions about the kyoto bus system and had to stop and ask a nice policeman for directions; he asked me if i spoke english or french. i wonder if he could speak french.

kiyomizu temple is probably the most famous temple in kyoto, due to its grand nature and remarkable views of the nature and the city from it's balconies on the mountainside.
i avoided the busy tourist street on
the way up; if we walked there, it would take hours to get to the 'pure water temple'.
while i didn't see them, i heard that mom and becky got a picture with some maiko girls walking the streets; blast.... my fifth time here, and i still don't have a picture with those mysterious ladies.

we entered the temple by washing our hands and mouth at the font out front, then bought our recommend for 400 yen or so.
by now i was throwing all cares about the cost of film and developing into the wind, and shot all that i wanted to here, including several experiments with 'soft focus' and wholly out of focus images. i'm curious to see if there's anything interesting with that.

walking along, i noticed two girls about my age who were looking at me. i smiled back,
acknowledging that, yes, in a country where americans are rarely seen, i'm relatively
nice and interesting to look at. they pointed to their camera, although my quick hope of celebrity was flashed when they wanted me to take their picture. from their use of charades, i gathered they weren't from around here; they knew enough the name of 'korea' in japanese, and that seems to be about it. i tried to say i had spent a [crazy] day in seoul, but discovered that i don't know how they pronounce it.
at least they got their picture.

nearly all temples and shrines sell little 'charms'--if you have ridden in my car, you may have seen my little 'traffic protection charm' i bought last time i was here. it works wonders.
my dad bought my mom a 'happiness charm', which was returned with a happiness kiss. and mom bought all three of her children 'get married' charms. actually, i think yoshi got one, too. we all displayed our charms as we gathered round the rock which houses the god of love. so things should get interesting from here on out.
at the offering box to the god of profession progression, i tossed in a 5 yen coin, hoping
to get more work when i get back.

the draw of kiyomizu temple is its eponymous 'pure water' which parts into three waterfalls, under which you can stand in a line to take a cup-on-a-stick from either the old lady or energetic jr. high student in front of you and drink from the holy waters yourself. truly, these are blessed with health; i have done it every time and never gotten sick.

now that the culturing of the family had been accomplished for the day, we could take all the time we wanted down this street, looking at whatever junk we wanted.
and we did.

this has really been a good street for me in my japan journeys. as a missionary, i saw a wonderful door curtain that i regretted not buying and so came back and bought it when i was a study-abroading student. it hangs in my door as i type.
on this trip, i decided i wanted to get a 'yukata'--a summer kimono.
and so i found a nice store that looked decently-authentic for its location and price, tried one on, like it, and bought it.
and so mom found one, too.
and so did dad.
girls' yukatas are little more elaborate, and so the lady dressed becky in a kickin' purple one with a red wrap--she looked so good that we all commanded her to buy it.
and she did.
tim bought two-piece lounging thing, and has since declared to wear it everday.

yes, we are a cultured family.

i was afraid food would be a big expenditure on this trip.
not so.
for reasons i really don't feel like analyzing right now, restaurants in japan generally serve only one kind of food; ramen places serve ramen, sushi places serve sushi, takoyaki places serve takoyaki. and bowls of meat and rice places serve bowls of meat and rice. we ate at a bowl of meat and rice place.
the beauty is in the simplicity:
walk in
put your money in the ticket vending machine
push the button that has the picture of the food you want to eat
sit down at the counter
give the ticket to the guy
he gives you the bowl of rice and meat
you eat it
your family does the same
everyone is happy

really a rad country.
i am going to miss this rich eating establishment system.

enjoying his english bus map provided by an exceedingly helpful train booth worker [i ask where i can buy a bus pass; he comes out a few minutes later to see i got it alright to give us five english maps], dad has begun to figure out how to get around this town. he found us a route to the subway that including a walk through a 'shotengai', a sort of covered strip mall; good place to slices of japanese life. dad found a store selling all sorts of old movies on dvd for 500 yen a pieces, and excidedly bought 'the african queen'. watching it in the hotel room that night, he kept commenting on how many scenes he didn't remember being there before. i don't know if the fault lies in my aging father or the questionable asian dvd market.
i pointed out a 'shakey's pizza' joint where we ate as missionaries.
mom took my picture in front of it.

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