So now that I have about 30 minutes before we get on the train out of here, I want to update this as much as I can. I recorded another video blog, but I don`t have the connector with me...Anyway.
These past 4 days have been jam-packed with all sorts of temples, shrines, and castles. On Wednesday, we went to Inari, which is this huge shrine on a mountain that serves as a cemetary. We climbed up so many stairs and saw so many graves. It was really, really moving, and I am starting to really appreciate the purpose behind shrines. I really like the shapes of them too. Don`t they call that architecture? Anyway, the gates were these orange square things-I am just going to have to put up a picture. We saw bamboo forests as well...We went to the Nijo castle, and that was pretty cool too. The artwork inside was all done in gold. We couldn`t take pictures or video inside it, but I did take both on the outside. The artwork was so simple, yet complex. It had scenes from every season, and it was a real treat to look at. Oh yea, one really cool thing about the castle was the floors. Jason told us that when samurai or ninjas would sneak into the castles, they would try to be really quiet so they wouldn`t give away their location. But in this castle, where they moved, it didn`t make a sound. Instead, it made a sound somewhere else to trick them into thinking that someone else was coming from another direction. I found that to be really fascinating!! I bought postcards here.
On this night, we walked around Kyoto as a group, looking at the shops and streets. I really like the structure of this city. Everything is so compact and little that every time you turn the corner you feel like you`re in a completely new part of town. :) At the end of our walk, we stopped at the 7/11 near our hotel and bought ice cream. I wanted chocolate ice cream to put Bailey`s over, but the store had neither. Oh well...I tried green tea ice cream, which is pretty good. I`ve had ice cream a lot in Kyoto...four times. :) Each time, a new flavor!
Thursday was a free day. I went running in the morning, and then the rest of the group headed over to the Kiyomizu shrine that was highly recommended by Jason. We walked up a really long street with all sorts of stores, and most of them had ice cream. I got cherry blossom flavor on this day. We spent a while in the shrine, and I took lots of video and pictures. We actually got to see some cherry blossom trees, or sakura trees, in bloom, and they are very pretty. One cool thing about this shrine was that they had a fresh spring of water that you drink from for good luck. A lot of us bought these souvenir cups and drank from it. It tasted really good, but I mean, it was water. Water always tastes good. Lol. It was a neat experience, and one of the group members, Elias, didn`t get in line, so he took pictures instead. That was really nice of him to do that!
After the shrine, we split up, and eventually ended up having lunch at a pizza place. Since the Japanese portions of food are so large, we decided that we should split a pizza. Bad idea. These were really small and thin, and we could`ve easily eaten our own. Kate and I shared an eggplant and onion pizza with gargonzola cheese. It tasted really good, but it wasn`t veyr filling. That`s okay, because that means there was room for ice cream!! We went to Baskin Robbins, and I had Nuts for you flavor...mmm!! We eventually ended up at this really cool strip mall place that the guys stumbled upon. We shopped there for a bit, but I didn`t buy anything. We then saw this arcade place, and went into one of those cheesy photo booths. It was all in Japanese, so we really had no idea what was going on. I had never done one of these things before, so it was all new to me. We did so many crazy poses, but it took us forever to finally get all the prints and stuff. It was so funny because we had no idea what was going on with the machine, and we didn`t know what it was asking us. We just started pushing buttons, and eventually our cool stickers came out. Aww! I think I`ll think of that memory as one of the first spontaneous ones here in Japan. :D
That night, the four of us, Kate, Elias, Kevin, and myself went out for dinner, but the place we initially went to was closed. Darn. Well, Elias knew that there was a ramen floor in the Kyoto station, so we headed there for dinner. I love ramen!!! Seriously. I had pork ramen with chicken dumplings. Yum. We were so hungry by the time we ate it that we just gobbled it up. We then got on a random bus and rode it for a while, switched to another bus, and got off it too early. Lol. Oops! It was about 10:30 at night, and we were just walking down the street to our hotel. I came up with the idea to sing songs to past the time. We sang ``All-Star`` and ``Tubthumbing``. That was a pretty cool adventure too. I really like all the random stuff we happen to do. Another great night.
Oh yea! I don`t remember which night I did this-that sounds so bad-but I went into the onsen, which is a really hot bath. The way the process works is that you wear a robe, with nothing under it, and go into this room and basically shower before you get into the tub. It reminded me of a hot tub, without the jets. Let`s see...the two girls here, Mame and Satomi, helped me through the process. We first washed our bodies, then our hair, and then rinsed everything again. It was a little weird for me being naked in front of all these people, but the two girls thought it was as normal as anything else. Lol. We finally got in, and it felt so good. I remember it was on Wednesday, because we were tired from climbing up Inari. Yea. We spent about 10 minutes in it, and it was really relaxing and calming.
So I guess this brings me up to yesterday...we went to Nara yesterday by train. We saw the biggest Buddhist temple in Japan, and it was really great. It was almost like a park, and there were different buildings with all these cool things in them. The one with the huge Buddha was definitely the best. I bought a couple post cards and took lots of video.
We headed over to Uji and the Byoijin(?) musuem. Uji is famous for their green tea, so we definitely bought some there. I bought some for my host family. We also had a mini tea ceremony and got to see how tea was made in the old days. Got it all on video!! I liked the tea, but it was a little strong. Overall, I do like the green tea here, a lot, but it has to be warm. I can`t do cold. They also gave us these bean snacks that they treat as dessert. Nigate. That means, I tried it, didn`t like it, please don`t serve it to me again. We had a lot of those yesterday, and I was getting really tired of it. We had a fun time at the Byoijin place too. This temple is actually on the back of the 10 yen coin, so it was really neat to see it in real life. We couldn`t go in this one, but I took video of the outside. Pictures too!
Last night ended with ramen again! Yum!! We also walked around in the park, looking at sakura. There was supposed to be a festival going on, but we missed it because we got there so late. We walked to a convenience store and ate some food by one of the fire pits. Good times. Then, we headed back to the hotel to play Uno! Oh yea, I bought some real chocolate after being fooled so many times yesterday by the bean desserts. We played Uno as a group, and it was fun. Lots of fun.
Ok, Kevin needs to use the computer, so I am out!!