Monday, September 05, 2005

Kyoto, Japan

Its my birthday and what a way to celebrate. Saturday morning, Sallie, Berry and Bev Nelson and Roy and I loaded up a van and headed north to Kyoto. The weather was outstanding but we did hear about a Super Typhoon brewing in the south. Nothing we were going to worry about.
We have all been to Kyoto before and we have all loved it, but before we had taken a tour with ITT and this time we were on our own.
We had a lot of trouble finding a hotel that could accommodate us all. We needed two doubles and one single and we needed parking. Parking it turned out was the hardest thing to find. Some had no parking at all, some changed hourly, but finally we found one with free parking, and the price was right.
Well, okay Japanese hotels are expensive. If you can find something for under a hundred a night, you can consider yourself really lucky. The Kyoto New Hotel, (which I don't think is very "new") checked in at just $100 a night for a double and that was a great deal. It had two beds, a refrig, a pot to make hot water, and like all hotels, robes and slippers.
The trip up was about 6 hours long with all of us taking a turn at driving, and we arrived before check in time so we started sighseeing right away. The first stop was to a handicraft place where they showed how textiles were woven, wood was carved, pottery turned, etc. It was fasinating, especially the textiles. We spent a good three hours just wandering around looking at all the Japanese crafts.
Our Hotel wasn't hard to find and like most Japanese hotels, the rooms were small and clean. The beds have to be the hardest in the world, and the pillows are all rice husks or barley or some sort of bean. Also, you can always find porn on Japanese television so I always tell folks not to let the kids channel surf in Japan cause they will get a great education.
We all decided that Italian would be a great dinner and we found a restaurant a couple blocks away. Have I mentioned that Japanese food is expensive. For 33.00 Roy and I had a plate of noodles and some garlic bread and drinks.
Sunday morning, we went downstairs for breakfast and I ordered the Japanese Breakfast for 12.00. I got a green salad, a raw egg, a slice of smoked fish, miso soup and a bowl of rice. I mixed the egg in the miso to cook it a bit. The others only groaned when they saw me eat it, but it was better than their watery scrambled eggs with catsup and corn soup.
We hopped a bus and went to the Silver Pavillion. They were doing some construction but the grounds were beautiful. From there we walked along the river on the Philosophers path, past a half dozen or so temples, like the one above. They are so beautiful, but like castles, temples are all starting to look like, so we headed to the Kyoto National Museum.
I am telling you, it was probably the most interesting one that I have seen in a long time. There were huge Buddas carved from wood dating back to the 15 and 16th century. There was pottery dating back to about the 1st century and examples of kimonos that were just awesome. It was an amazing museum.
Lunch for 4, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and ice tea. 30.00 dollars
Our final stop was the Kyoto Handicraft Gallery where they make and sell everything Japanese from pearl jewerly, laquare ware, woodblocking, textiles, etc. We bought a music box for a friend of mine in Washington and some pictures of Kyoto for us. While we were shopping, the rain started and it didn't let up for the rest of the trip.
We certainly lucked out for dinner. We found this little Chinese place a couple blocks from the hotel and we had the most delicious meal, best Chinese since I have been here. It was a popular place, as tables were all full and folks can in for take out constantly. It was a winner and if I ever go back, its on the short list of places to eat. Cheap to,,,, well for Japan.
Monday we headed home as the typhoon was getting closer and closer and we didn't want to get stuck.

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