Japan trip September 2017

8th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Round Two At Saga-Arashiyama

We got up on time but we took our time on getting around and just talking this morning.  Dana wanted to go to Saga-Arashiyama.  If you have been keeping up with my blog then you would know that I have already been to this place.  But it was raining and I didn’t get to see the other sites that are that area.  Since it was a sunny day today I decided to go with her.

In our conversation this morning, Dana was really looking forward to seeing the monkeys on Mt. Iwatayama that is in the same area as Saga-Arashiyama.  Dana grew up in New York City and never seen monkeys outside the cage.  But for me, because I live in Taiwan, I was not looking forward to this site.  In Kaohsiung, we have a mountain called Chai Shan (Monkey Mountain).  We call it monkey mountain because this mountain is roaming with monkeys everywhere.  There is even a university in that area and the students would tell me that the monkeys will steal your food from you.  If you have food in your bag the monkeys will steal your bag and open it up just for the food.  These monkeys are very smart and aggressive when it comes to food.  So in my head, these monkeys in Japan would probably be the same I thought and I was not looking forward to seeing them.  But I’m doing this for Dana and I went with her anyway.

We left a little late to get to Saga-Arashiyama.  We got there around 11 am.  It was already crowded with people and busy.  I wanted to try riding a bike around Saga-Arashiyama.  We found a sign that told us where a bike-rental store was at.  We talked to the owner and got our bikes.  But we had to return them before 5 pm.  We figured that would be enough time.  The owner also gave us a map and showed us how to get to some of the sits in Saga-Arashiyama and where we can and can’t park the bikes at and where we are not allowed to ride our bikes at. We got on our bikes and we were on our way.

We got to explore the area a bit and see some interesting houses, a meadow field, and we even found 100yen drink vending machine.  I was really happy about this one.  And it wasn’t just one vending machine that had drinks for 100yen, there were three other vending machines next to it that was also 100yen with different drinks in it.  Usually, in the tourist sections, you would not find 100yen vending machines.  So that was a fun discovery.

Togetsukyo Bridge

We finally made it to the Togetsukyo Bridge.  We decided to ride our bikes the rest of the way there, but we ran into a small problem.  There were so many people there that it was too difficult to ride our bikes.  So we tried to find somewhere to park our bikes.  We found some bikes that were covered up with a tarp and some bikes along the fence.  We thought we could park there.  But we saw a sign saying that we couldn’t park our bikes there.  So we rode to the back of the building and parked our bikes back there.

We were getting a little hungry so we found a coffee shop that had some food and AC.   We got a table that was next to the window where you can the bridge and the beautiful scenery.  We ordered our food and we just talked.  After we were done eating we went straight to the bridge.  It was an amazing bridge to look at and take lots and lots of pictures.  You can see the boats that were seating on the outside of the bridge.  And the beautiful mountains in the background.  I can see why this place would be popular in the fall and spring.  You would be able to see the color changing from the trees in the background of the bridge and in the spring you could see the cherry blossoms from the tree behind the bridge.  But the trees were just starting to change color but not enough color yet.  Manly just green still, but that is ok, it was still a beautiful place to see any time of the year.

Jojakkoji Temple

After we crossed the bridge, we went to the left and saw a sign for a temple called Jojakkoji Temple.   There were two ways to get to the temple.  One way was following the road and find the main entrance.  Or you can go up this staircase that takes you up through some nature areas and smaller temples and you will come to the temple through the side.  We saw some high school or university students that were going to the same temple.  They decided to take the side entrance. We just followed them and took some pictures on the way there.  It was very nature like on the way up.  There was even a small temple that was locked up but I was able to get some nice picture of the beautiful garden.

We kept going up the stairs and we finally made it up to the temple.  The temple was very nice looking.  On the side of the stairs, we saw some old looking lamp post that had a house on top of the post with green moss on it.

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The temple had a few interesting thing to see and when you turn left to of the temple you get a nice view of Kyoto City with the mountains in the background.

Mt. Iwatayama (Evil Monkeys)

After we were done looking at the Jojakkoji Temple, we started looking for the evil monkeys, I mean, the cute monkeys that live on Mt. Iwatayama.   We walked down the main road and passed the bridge again from where we first started and found the main entrance to see the monkies.  You had to pay a fee to get in and then you have to walk for about 20 minutes up the mountain.

It was fun hiking up the mountain.   We got to climb some stairs and walk along some nice, wide walking path.  It was nice and calm and just peaceful to walk through.  Not too many people and it was just calm.

We knew we were almost to the top of the mountain because we started to see warning signs about the monkeys.  The sign would tell you not to feed the monkies.  Don’t point your camera or smartphone directly at the monkeys.  Keep at least 2-meter distance from the monkey.  Don’t crouch down to take a picture of the monkeys.

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We were almost to the top when we walked into a park kind of area for kids.  There was a swing, a seesaw, and some tables for parents to seat at.  A small building to the side.  And a rope that went to one side of the tree to the other.  Connected to the rope was a metal stick that you could hold on to and slide across the rope with.  We kept going up the mountain and then we saw a metal slide that went down a small mountain that was part of the park for the kids.  There were some stairs on the side of the mountain that we used to get pass the slide.

 

When we got to the top you can see all of Kyoto.  They even had a seat of tower optical binoculars that you could look through.  Also, some benches you could sit on to just admire the view.  There was also a small cabin that had wire gates on the windows.  You can go inside this cabin to get souvenirs, water, and buy food to feed the monkeys with but you have to feed the monkeys from inside the cabin for your protection.  You don’t want the monkeys to jump on you and grab the food right out of your hand.  At less this way you are protected from the monkeys and the monkeys are protected from you.

These monkeys didn’t seem so bad like the one in Taiwan.  They seem less aggressive.  Some of the monkeys were even carrying a little baby is on there back or they were hanging on to there mothers stomach.  I kept walking along the pathway where the other monkeys were hang out at.  It’s a small pond area and you can see more monkeys just chillin out there.  I was taking some pictures of the monkeys and I forgot that you weren’t allowed to crouch down to take a photo.  I do it all the time in Taiwan with the monkeys and never had a problem.  I just make sure the monkesy are not looking at me and I’m not too close to them.  I was taking a picture of a monkey while crunching down, and I hear someone behind me whispering to me about how I shouldn’t be crouching down.  After he said that to me I got back up and went on my way.

I went back to the cabin and went inside to get some water.  I paid for my water and found a chair inside the cabin.  I was watching other people feed the monkeys.  Then they were telling everyone to go outside because the crew was about to call all the monkeys to feed them.  The crew had a special sound for the monkies that would let them know that it was feeding time.  The crew started to through some food on the ground for the monkeys and the monkeys where coming from all over to get the food.  Everyone stood outside to watch the monkeys get feed.  I stayed inside and to relax and it became so peaceful after everyone went outside to see the monkeys get feed.  I wasn’t interested in it.  I don’t care for monkeys and just wanted to sit down and relax for a little bit.  After I was done relaxing, and the monkeys were done eating, I went outside to sit on the bench and just admire the view.  Dana was still having fun taking pictures of the monkeys and I took a small nape on the bench.  I don’t know how long I slept there but by the time I woke up my arm was a bit red.  Dana came up to me and told me what she saw and how much fun she was having.  I was happy for her.  I’m glad she had fun and enjoyed herself.  I’m glad I did go with her in the end.  I enjoyed seeing the difference on how the monkeys are in Japan then they are in Taiwan.  Also, how the Japanese people take care of the monkeys here.

After Dana was done we went back down the mountain.  We sat in the park area for a little bit trying to decide if we wanted to try the rope with the metal stick on it.  We saw some guys swing from it first and it looked fun.  So we just waited for them to get done.  But then another couple went and swung on the rope.  We decided in the end not to do it.  Dana was too shy to swing on it and I really didn’t care either way.  I was getting a bit tired at this point and when I get tired I get into the whole ‘I don’t care what we do’ kind of mood.  We decided to go back down the mountain.  It didn’t take us to long to climb down the mountain.  By the time we knew it, we were back to the entrance.

Food and Returning the Bikes

We came back to the bridge again and as we crossed the bridge we went on the other side to take more pictures.  After we were done taking pictures we decided we wanted to walk to the Bamboo Forest but we had to return the bikes before 5 pm.  We are also not allowed to ride our bikes in the Bamboo Forest and the street was still heavily crowded with people still so it made it impossible to ride our bikes there.  It was only a little after 3 pm.  Since it was still a little early I wanted to check out the souvenir shops to kill some time and to look for my dad’s boat that he wanted.  But after checking out every single shop they had, none of them had the boat.  We decided to head back to the bike shop.

We went back to collect our bikes and we were off to try to find the bike shop.  We weren’t sure how to get back to the bike shop so we decided to retrace our steps.   We followed the same road that we came on and crossed some train tracks.  We found the bike shop pretty quickly.  It was only a quarter to four and we still had an hour left with the bikes.  We were getting hungry and we decided to go back to that shop that we saw that was next to the 100yen vending machine.  We figured since that vending machine is not in the tourist section we were hoping that the food shop that we saw would also be cheap.  And it turned out we were right.  Once we found the 100yen vending machine, we checked out the shop and they sold noodles and pastures that look like fish.  You could get red bean pastures or cream paster.  I got some noodles and only paid 250yen.  They were so delicious!!  Dana and I got some drinks from the 100yen vending machine and just chilled out by our bikes.  There wasn’t anywhere to sit because it was a shop that sold food that you take home.  You don’t stay and seat around on chairs or tables.  So Dana and I just talked and chilled by our bikes and enjoyed our drinks and I enjoyed my food.  She then went to the same shopkeeper that sold me the noodles to get some fish pasters.  She got the red bean one.  It looked really good and I went and bought myself a fish cream pastures.  As I bit into it, it was warm and soft.  It wasn’t too sweet and the cream was pretty good.

After we were done eating and relaxing for a bit, we head back to the bike shop and returned our bikes.  We started walking down the street and just followed some people for a little bit.  Then I saw the temple that Abby and I passed to get to the Bamboo Forest and we turned right.  I knew then we were on the right track and we kept going straight for a little bit.  Then we saw a sign for the Bamboo Forest and also saw a lot of people leaving or entering into the forest and we turn left.  And let the walking through the Bamboo Forest began.

Bamboo Forest Part 2

It was nice walking through the Bamboo Forest without the rain.  I got some better pictures this time and I knew where I was going.  I didn’t feel lost and the forest was still crowded with never-ending people.  I took Dada down the same path that Abby and I took.  It was a lot of fun.  Once we got to the end of the Bamboo Forest we took some pictures.  Then we saw a couple in their wedding outfits getting their pre-engagement photos done.  They went to the popular spot where everyone gets there photo done in the Bamboo Forest and I really admire the photographer.  I was laying on the ground while taking there photo getting his shirt and pants all dirty. I admire photographers that are willing to go the distance for there clients to get the perfect shot.

After we were done taking photos we went down the same pathway that takes you the neighborhood area.  I got to get a better view of the neighborhood since it wasn’t raining it was really nice.  With the traditional houses and walls around each property.  It was very peaceful and nice and not many people came this way because it wasn’t part of the attraction.

After we were done exploring the area, we had to walk through the Bamboo Forest again to leave.  It was getting late and dark outside and the Bamboo Forest had fewer people walking around.  It was even quieter and quit peaceful to walk through without all the crowds.  The only problem was there isn’t any kind of light post anywhere through the whole forest.  So if you get stuck inside the forest when it gets dark, you will struggle to see your way out.  But we made it out before that happened.  The sun was seating and I really needed the bathroom.  It was almost 7 pm and the streets were getting deserted.  There weren’t many people walking up and down the street anymore and the shops were starting to close for the night.  I was a little shocked that everything was closing down so early.  It was almost 7 pm but this whole area was starting to look dead.

Bathroom Story

I really really really needed the bathroom and I remember the temple that we passed earlier had a bathroom.  So I figured that we could just walk to the temple and I could just use the bathroom there.  When we got to the temple, you have to walk across the parking lot and pass some other shrines.  Dana and I were talking the whole time.  While we were walking I realized I haven’t seen any people here.  We saw a woman earlier that was leaving and two cars that were parked in the parking lot.  I started thinking that maybe the temple was closed.  I was really hoping it wasn’t closed.  I really needed the bathroom and I couldn’t remember if the bathroom was outside the entrance or inside.  If its outside hopefully it won’t be locked so I can use the toilet.  But if its inside pass the entrance, that will definitely be locked and we would have walked all the way here for nothing.  It’s about a 10-minute walk to get to the grounds and I also notice that the other shrines that were open when I was here last were all locked up.  Not a good sign right now.  We finally made it to the entrance of the shrine and everything was closed.  There were locks on everything and there was a gate up.  We looked through the gate and there was the bathroom.  I was so sad!!  The bathroom was right there and I couldn’t get to it.  I was very disappointed and we had to go find another bathroom.  The only other place I could think of was at the food court area.  I remember they had a bathroom and hopefully, the food court was still open.  So we took another 10-minute walk across the grounds and finally made it back to the entrance.  We turned left and walked for another five minutes and we finally made it back to the food court.  And luckily for me, the food court was still open and there was my best friend the bathroom.  Yeah!!  I can finally use the bathroom.  I’m so excited and happy!!

Now I haven’t’ talked about how the toilets are different from the American toilets or Taiwan toilets yet.  I would say some of the differences would be the toilet is really clean.  The toilet stall always seems to have tissues.  Unlike in Taiwan where most of the time you need to bring your own tissues with you because the toilet you are using may or may not have tissues or there won’t even be anything attached to the wall for toilet paper.  There are usually buttons on the wall or on the toilet seat for you to adjust the heat on the seat, change the rotation of the water, or use the spray to clean your butt and dry it.  Also, there is a flush sound to hide the fact that you are peeing or pooping in the bathroom.  Because you know girls don’t pee or poop.  Joke joke.  Hate to burst some bubbles but everyone pees and poops.  Just saying.  Also the most important button of all.  The flush button to clean out the toilet.  I’m used to having automatic or having to look for the flusher behind the toilet.  But to have a button on the side of the wall was a new one for me.  Here are some photos of the lovely toilets that you will very likely see in Japan.

Kimono-Forest

After I was done using the bathroom, Dana and I sat down in the food court area to rest for a bit.  We talked a little and I told her about the Kimono-Forest.  When I was here with Abby I got to see the Kimono-Forest but it was still daytime and rainy and I didn’t explore it much.  I figured while we were here we could check it out.  The Kimono-Forest has a lot of different designed light poll that is on both sides of a walking path.  Most people will be dressed up in their kimonos and get some pictures done.  But the site is a lot more beautiful at night.  All the lamp poll light up and show off all the artwork on each poll along the walking path.  The Kimono-Forest is on the other side of the food court.  Dana agreed to go and we went to the Kimono-Forest.  It looked just like the pictures.  It was a beautifully lit up walking path with polls on each side in different colors and designs.  There were a few people walking in their kimono through the Kimono-Forest.  It was just gorgeous!!

As you can see from the pictures it was just a beautiful site to see at night.  I highly recommend seeing this place at night.  It’s so much better at night then in the day.  We took some pictures and walked through the Kimono-Forest.  There was a little area that you can turn into and you will see a marble ball on a very smooth flat water.  The marble ball is reflecting in the water and the marble has a dragon design on it.  It was very beautiful.  On the side of the wall that the marble ball was sitting on, there was a metal plack that had some information about this marble ball and water.  It said, ‘Pond of Dragon.  Wishes are granted if the dragon that landed in Arashiyama is prayed to. If you immerse your hands in the water, your heart will be filled with peace and you will be lead to happiness.’    This statue just looked like a beautiful artwork to me and I didn’t dear touch it.  But I took a lot of pictures of it.  Here are some of the pictures.

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After we were done walking around the Kimono-Forest we decided to head back to the train station.  It was a very long day at Arashiyama but a great fun-filled day.  We got back to our hostel safe and sound.  I have no idea what I will be doing tomorrow but we will find out soon.  Hope you enjoyed the blog.  If you like what I write please follow me and if you want to see more pictures from my travels, just follow my facebook blog page.  Hope to see you here again soon.

 

Japan trip September 2017

7th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017
Woke up this morning and had breakfast. I meet up with Dana and told her my planes for Sanjsangendo Temple. Dana started telling me how she helped a guy get to that temple by walking there but she never went into the temple. So I asked her if she wanted to go with me and this time go inside the temple and she said ok. Then she wanted to go to another place later on in the afternoon. I figured it shouldn’t take to long. It wasn’t that far of a walk. About 30 minutes and just look around the temple and then come and eat later and go where she wanted to go. That was the original plane but things happen. And this is one of those times.
On Our Way To Sanjsangendo Temple
We had a nice walk to the temple. We had to go over a bridge that went over a river. It was such a beautiful view from the bridge. I was able to see all the beautiful architecture of the houses and see the beautiful mountains in the background. I love walking around Kyoto. It’s such a beautiful place that has so much history and still has a traditional feel to the city.


As we continued walking, my friend Dana started taking some shortcuts. She said the guy that she helped out went down some alleyways. I told her it was creepy because that’s how people get kidnap. But luckily she didn’t and now she is taking me down the same alleyways as the guy she helped out had taken. Down one of these alleyways, I saw a wooden shrine symbol on the cement wall. I have no idea what it means. Maybe it is letting us know that there is a shrine nearby. I thought it was really interesting to see so I took a few pictures of it.

As you can see it’s interesting in its design and how it was placed on the cement wall. I’m glad we took a shortcut.
As we are still walking, we pass by a school. Dana found the school amazing and was wounding what the students were doing because everyone was wearing green, red, yellow, or blue t-shirts. They were playing tug-a-war outside and there was tents seat up all around the field. I told her it looks like sports day because my Taiwanese students have the same seat up at their school on sports day. In Thailand, I was working at a government school and we did the same thing. Everyone has color teams and same for the teachers. I was on the green team and we just help out our students and cheer them on. It’s a lot of fun. We were also cheering on the students from outside the gate. Some students saw us and waved to us. It was cute and fun to watch. After a little bit of watching the student’s play their sports competition, we had to keep moving.

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After walking for about an hour, we finally arrived at the Sanjusangendo Temple. There weren’t many people there so that was a nice break from the normal overcrowded people at most sites that we’ve been to. This temple that we went to holds 1001 statues inside, but you can’t take any pictures. So I just took pictures on the outside of the building for a little bit. Then we paid the fee to get into the temple. You can see signs everywhere about how you can’t take any pictures. There is even a sign saying if you take pictures you will be forced to delete them. It was an amazing sight to see. How all the statues are lined up in rows and they have different god statues standing in the front. The old, worn, down color on each statue and just the design of each statue was an amazing sight to see. I’m so happy we went there and got to see this. I highly recommend this place if you want a break from all the crowded touristy places.


Exploring The Area
After we were done looking around the temple, we decided to explore the area for a little bit. We found a busy road and we started walking down it. I saw an interesting wall building that I thought was a temple. I wanted to take a look inside but we couldn’t find the entrance. We walked down one street and found some small restraints that had Halloween decorations up and after looking at the menu, we suddenly got hungry.

Lunch Story

We walk into the store and take our seats. The waiter comes to us and explained how things work at their restraints. I was wounding why he would have to explain anything to us. I thought he would just hand us a menu, we would place our order with him, and wait to be served our food. Well, things work a little differently at this restraint. He told us we need to use the tablet that is seating at the table. The tablet had a cord on the back of it so it’s not like you can walk off with the tablet. He said there is an English button we need to press first. We did that and everything turned to English. He showed us how to browse through the menu and how to place our order. Then we will just have to wait for our food. Pretty much this tablet takes out the middle guy. The waiter only has to serve your food and that’s it. You don’t have to interact with them much. If you need anything, there is a button you can press and the waiter will come and help you with your needs. Once we figured out what we wanted we placed our order. The food came pretty quickly and it was delicious as always. I’m never disappointed with Japanese food. After we were done eating we went up to pay. Dana had to go to the restroom and I went up to the front desk to pay the guy. At the front desk, they had a bowl of Halloween candy. I was looking at it but wasn’t going to ask about it. The guy at the front desk read my mind and told me I could take some. I was only going to take one but he told me I could take more. I was too shy to take more so he hands me a handful of candy. I said thank you and waited outside for Dana.

Back to walking around.
Now back to our walk and figuring out how to get into this temple. We went back to the main street and just followed the outside wall. I figured if we keep following the wall we should find the entrance eventually. After walking for a bet, we finally found the entrance. We also saw a sign that said this is a women university. But it didn’t look like a university to me. It looked like a big temple ground and when we looked inside it had two big buildings that look like it could have been the dorms. We didn’t explore too much because we didn’t want to get in trouble for being there. After we left we kept walking straight for a little bit. We found another busy road and just kept walking till we found a highway. There was a temple called Otanihombyo and next to the building was a map of the area. We checked out the area and found a subway that was about 10-15 minute walk from where we were at. We decided to check out the temple first before we headed to the subway. Otanihombyo is an interesting temple. In the entrance, you will see a nice bridge going over a small pond area. It was really beautiful to look at and took some photos. After crossing the bridge we entered the temple. There are a few buddies people that will be walking around or doing their prayers. There is a section where you cross under a walkway between the two buildings and there will be a sign that will say, “please pass quietly”. You will need to be quiet because of the buddies people are chanting. Once you cross under the small hallway, we saw a wide space area and a tent that is set up in the center with chairs that are available for the public to seat on. We saw a few people there paying their respects to the temple and giving gifts or money. We took this time to just relax and enjoy the view.


Second-Hand Kimonos
After we were all rested up, we started our walk to the subway station. On our way, we saw some more traditional Japanese buildings and we saw a shop that sold second-hand kimono. We had to check it out. We walked inside and there was a young guy there that knew some English. The young guy looked about his early 20’s I would say. I’m 31 years old so early twenties is conceder a young guy to me. We decided to just look around. But once we got to the back of the room and saw all the different kinds of kimono that you can buy for only 3,000yen, we just had to buy one. To just rent a kimono for one hour you have to pay 3,000yen. I had no problem buying a kimono second hand for the same price just to rent one. We tried on a few kimonos and found one that we wanted. But we couldn’t get the belt there. They can custom make a belt for you but it will cost 30,000 yen. ($260 US dollars) We were fine with what we got and felt we didn’t need the belt.

Once we paid and left the shop, we walked a little further down the street and found another seconded-hand kimono shop. It wasn’t as nice as the last one but they had second-hand shoes, coats, kimonos, belts, and hairpins. We walked in and you could defiantly tell that it was a second-hand shop. It was very small and the air inside had that second-hand shop kind of smell. Just like at Goodwill or Salvation Army in America. Everything was crammed onto the shelves on top of each other and a bit messy. We found the belts in the back corner and we had to dig through the belts that went with our kimono. The prices for a second-hand belt ran around 1,000yen to 3,000yen. ($10-30 dollars.) We also found kimonos that were cheaper than the other shop. We found kimonos for 1,000yen to 3,000yen. We couldn’t help ourselves and we bought another kimono with two belts. Total damage for shopping for second-hand kimonos and belts was $60 dollars. Not so bad compared to how much I would have spent if it was brand new. After we got done shopping for kimono stuff we found the subway and headed back to our hostel.
Meet up for language exchange
There was a language exchange meet up in central Kyoto that Dana and I wanted to go too. I found out about the meet up through Dana and she reminded me about the MeetUp app. I’ve used the Meetup app before in Taiwan but I didn’t think to use it in Kyoto. Dana told me about a few events she was going to through the app. One of them was a language exchange. It started in the evening around 7. We had to buy a drink once we get there. We left an hour early from the hostel. We took the subway to central Kyoto. Once we got off the subway we followed the dictations from our screenshots from Google maps the best we could. But of course, as usual, we got a little lost. Dana found a woman to ask for dictions. She was in her business wear clothes and was caring four bags. But, instead of just telling us where the place was she took us there. She didn’t have to do that. She looked busy and she already had her hands full. She didn’t have to go out of her way and walk us to the café. She was very friendly and nice and she kept talking in Japanese the whole time with mixed English.
We finally arrived at our dictation. We said goodbye to the women that helped us. Then we walked into the coffee shop and it was pretty nice inside. It was a traditional Japanese coffee shop where you have to take off your shoes before you go to your table. The Japanese guy in charge of the meet up was seating at the nearest table by the door with some paperwork. We asked him if this is where the meet up is and he said yes it is. He asked for our names and reminded us that we had to buy a drink first. We ordered our drinks and went upstairs. When we got upstairs, there were a lot of people. I would say about 20 people showed up. Most of them were Japanese, one person from Melisa, one person from Thailand, one person from Italy, three of us from America and one person from England. Everyone was very friendly and nice. We talked for a bit with some of the people at our table. Then the host walked in and introduced himself has the host and how he created the meet up for the language exchange. He started splitting us off into groups of three or four. Since there was so many of us, he split the group in half. He put half of the group in a room across the hall and left the other half in the room where we are already in. We got to stay in the room we were already in. Then every 30 minutes the host would have the foreigners move to the right to the next group over. The meet up lasted for about two hours. Got to meet other people and understand Japanese culture a little better and get some traveling advice. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend using the MeetUp app when you are in another country if you have the time.

After we were done, most of the group went home and some of us went out for a late dinner. It was mainly us foreigners that went out to eat and two Japanese women that came with us. It took some time to find a place to eat because it was almost ten o’clock and most restaurants were closing. But we found a place that would take our small group and we had some dinner. We chatted for a bit and talked. Everyone seemed really nice and we had a good time. Then most of us left to go back home after that. We got back to our hostel around midnight.
It was a great day, had some fun sightseeing and meeting new people. Glad that Dana reminded me about the MeetUp app. I’m so happy I went and met new people. Hope you enjoyed the read. Have a good day and hope to see you here at my blog again soon.

Japan trip September 2017

6th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
Rest Day
Dana and I woke up this morning and decided to take a rest day. We were so tired from sightseeing every day and going to two or three places in one day. We had some breakfast and since we are planning on staying in the hostel, we decided to do our launder. Now you would think doing launder in another country wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Laundry Time
Well, the washing machine was smaller. That means more money for the company because you will have to do more loads. It cost 300yen to do one load. About $3 dollars in American money. Once I was in the laundry room and read the directions that they had posted in English. I realized there wasn’t any laundry soap. I went to the front desk and there was a women clerk there and I asked her about laundry soap. She told me that I don’t need laundry soap because the washing machine will automatically put soap into the machine. I said thank you and went back into the laundry room. I put my clothes in, put the 300yen in the machine, and pushed start. Once I closed the lid I notice another difference about the washing machine. It aromatically locks the lid. You can’t open the lid once you close it. You have to wait tell the washing machine is done before it will open the lid back up. I thought to myself that I hope I didn’t forget anything because it’s not going to get cleaned now.
The dryer machine wasn’t so difficult. The dryer machine cost 100yen, about $1 dollar, and I just through my clothes in there, shut the door, and pushed start. Both machines take about 30 minutes. There is a whiteboard on the side of the machine where you write your name, time, date, and your card key number. This lets the staff know who cloths they are if you forget to take them out. They even have a note on the bulletin board in the laundry room. The note says if you forget to take your clothes out they will put the clothes in a basket and put their own clothes in. Sounds reasonable to me. I have to do that in Taiwan too. If you forget to get your clothes but your basket is seating there, they will put your clothes in your basket and leave it there just so they can get their clothes washed.
Finding lunch
In the afternoon, we got hungry and we decided to check out Kyoto Station for some food. In the station, there is a map of all the different restaurants inside the station and what floor they are on. We looked at the map and found a store that served the main dish and some different side dishes on one big tray. It looked really good from the picture so we decided to hunt this place down. The map said the restaurant was on floor B1. We went looking for B1 and it turned out to be more difficult to find then we thought. We walk around for about 30 minutes but none of the stairs or escalators went to B1. We couldn’t even find the elevator. So we went to the information desk. There was a woman there that knew English and we told her we were trying to find B1. She thought we meant the bus station and was asking which bus station we are looking for. We tried again to tell her we are looking for B1. She still didn’t understand. Dana was able to remember the word floor in Japanese and it took the women a moment but she finally understood that we were trying to find floor B1, not the bus station. She pulled out a map for us and told us we had to go on the other side of the station and there will be some stairs that we can use to get to B1 but then we have to go down a hallway and there will be a subway station. We need to pass the subway station and keep walking. There will be a door on our left and that will take us to the food area. Took us a little bit but we finally found the restaurant that we saw on the map.
We got in the restaurant and took our seats. They gave us an English mean and everything looked good. They had orange chicken, beef, pork, and so on and most of the side dish came with a salad, radish, and the daily dessert. I went with the orange chicken and it came with tofu. Dana got the same thing as me. When our food arrived it looked so good. The orange chicken didn’t taste the same like in America. It was very soft. It wasn’t chewy or crunchy, just soft with orange sauce on it. My tofu was covered with a brown sauce of some sort, can’t really describe the taste, and then I had my rice, Japanese style salad, radish, and mango pudding. It was all very delouses. It was such a good lunch.

 

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Lunch

 
Anima
After lunch, we walked around the floor B1 and found some more delouses restaurants and cafes. Everything looks so good to eat. After we were done walking around, we went to the shopping mall that was across the street called Asty. It was a nice shopping mall. It has clothes, jewelry, kitchenware, stationary stores, and a small grocery store. Not much for fruit or vegetables, but it had stuff for your home and snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. I bought some snacks for my sister and myself. Then I bought some more souvenirs for my family. After we got done there we went to the top floor and once you get off the escalator you see an Anima store. This was like a dream come true for me. I’ve never seen an Anima store before and always wanted to go into one. In the Anima store, they have all the latest anime collection toys, dolls, key chains, buttons, folders, stickers, trading cards, posters, DVD’s, CDs and manga books. I only knew a few of the anima because I don’t keep up with it like I used to. I didn’t buy anything because I wasn’t crazy about collecting things like this anymore. It was interesting to see and I highly recommend going to one when you get a chance.

 

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Anima Shop

 
CoCo Curry
After we were done looking around the shopping mall we headed back to our hostel and just relaxed. Dinner came around and we were both hungry again. We both wanted to check out a place called CoCo Curry. We both heard about this place from our favorite Youtuber, Simon and Martina, and in one of their YouTube video’s they go to CoCo Curry and talk about how to order and things. There was a CoCo Curry near our hostel and we just walked over there. There was a menu outside on the wall, and we checked it out. I decided to get the fried pork curry and Dana wanted to get the fried cheese one. I would compare the fried cheese one with cheese sticks but it was one big one. We went inside and we both talked about what level of spiciness we wanted to try. The highest level is 10 and we both decided to try level 7. We placed our order and waited for our food to come.

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Our food came pretty quickly and we were both excited.  I tried mine first and I found my curry not to be very spicy at all. I thought maybe if I took another bite it might get better but it didn’t. It seemed to be regular level spic to me but I thought I said level 7. I wasn’t sure and I just kept eating. But Dana, on the other hand, was struggling. It was very spicy for her and she kept needing to drink water. I didn’t understand. Why was I ok with level seven and she wasn’t. I was joking with her about how I can handle my level seven just fine. Then she had me try hers. After I took that first bite I finally realized my plate was not a level seven. Her curry was very spicy. I couldn’t even handle it. I started drinking a lot of water with her and I only had one bite. Then it occurred to me. On Simon and Martia’s channel, they did talk about how if they see a caucasian person they won’t give you the level you want. They think it will be too spicy for you and just give you regular spicy level. That’s what happened to me. We looked at our receipt, and the receipt said one level seven for Dana and regular spic level for me. Even though I said level seven. This is the first time where they stereotype me based on my look and take action, that I was ok with. Level seven was too spicy for me and I wouldn’t have been able to finish my plate. Dana couldn’t even finish her plate. Usually, I get annoyed when people stereotype things about me because I’m caucasion looking but this is the first time that I’m grateful they did. It was an interesting experience.
Hope you enjoyed the blog. Please, have a look at my facebook fan page and see my pictures from my travels in Japan. See you again soon.

Japan trip September 2017

5th Day In Kyoto, Japan

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Abby’s Last Day

We got up in the morning like normal and got breakfast. We talked about our planes and Abby reminded me that this is her last day. I’m so sad but she has to go back to Beijing and teach English. As I will be doing the same but back in Taiwan. I will miss Abby but that’s the life of a traveler. You meet new people and become close to them and they move on to their next destination.

Went to Fushimi Inari-Taisha

We took the train to get to the shrine. It didn’t take long to find the shrine once we get off the train. Just follow the crowd. Once we got to the entrance, we saw so many people. Even though we went in the morning, it was still pretty crowded but not too crowded were you can’t move. On our way up, we passed by a few souvenirs shops that I need to check out once we get back. Need to pick up some stuff for the family. Then we arrived at the first of many Torii Gates. Just rows and rows of them. It looked the way I was hoping they would. The first time I found out about Fushimi Inari-Taisha was from the movie, “Memoirs of a Geisha”. From the movie, the Torii Gates just looked amazing and beautiful. Even though Hollywood reconstructed it that it looks like the girl is running on a flat street. But in real life, you have to climb a lot of stairs. One of the main reasons why I chose to come to Kyoto was because of this movie. It was a little difficult to get a good picture of my self and my friends at the beginning because of the crowd of people that were trying to do the same thing. But the further we went up the shrine, the thinner the crowd got. Then I could finally get some decent pictures without all the people.

We found out most of the people that we came in with didn’t want to climb to the top of the shrine. But we did and because of it, we got to see some amazing shrines with the fox and see an amazing view from the top of the hill. It took us about two hours to climb to the top. We saw some hikers once we got there. You can seat on a bench or rocks to relax and enjoy the view. That’s exactly what we did.

 

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Amazin view from the top.

 

We climbed up some steps and found some more fox shrines. At some of these shrines, there will be a small booth selling candles. The candles are used to make your wish to the fox god. I would see people buy a candle and the shopkeeper will light the candle for you. Then you walk over to the shrine and show your respect, make a wish, place the candle in the ash or sand (I’m not sure what that is that holds the candle up but it looks like sand to me), then ring the bell. Then the fox god will think over your request and decide to grant it or not.

After all the walking and climbing stairs, we went back to the viewpoint. At the viewpoint, they have ice cream stands there. They were selling soft served soy milk ice cream. You can get reviled flavor, a twist, (but this twist was with soy and green tea) and green tea flavored. Dana got the green tea flavored and I got the twist. My ice cream tasted pretty good. The green tea flavored overpowered the soy flavor. You can taste a little bit of soy milk but it wasn’t very strong like the green tea. It was nice to have an ice cream cone and admire the view.

After we were done eating our ice cream we started climbing back down the stairs. We knew we were getting closer because we started seeing more and more people coming up the stairs. Once we got back to the bottom of the shrine we started looking at souvenirs. They had about five or seven different shops that were selling souvenirs. A lot of key chains, postcards, magnets, Geisha dolls, samurai dolls, Japanese style tea cups, Japanese style sake cup set, fox mask, and so on. But my dad requested a Japanese boat figuring. My mom’s friend went to Japan and came back with one of those. I looked at every shop they had at the shrine. No luck. They sold everything else but that. I will not give up though. I will keep looking. But I did buy a Japanese doll for my dad and some postcards and magnets for myself.

Once we were done looking around, we went down a street that had a lot of food stalls. We checked out every food stall and everything looked so delicious. We were drooling. Well, I was at less. All the climbing up the stairs made me hungry. It was lunch time anyway so Abby and I got beef on a stick. And Dana got some noodles. Our beef on a stick was really good and juicy. Dana shared some of her noodles with us and her noodles were good too.

Time To Go Back To The Hostel

After we were done eating, we took the train back to Kyoto station. We went to a coffee shop that is nearby the station to relax from our long day. Its Abby and I favorite coffee shop because they sell pumpkin lattes. I’ve lived in Taiwan for four years and they don’t do themed food or drinks there for the holidays. Abby said the same thing for Beijing. So seeing that Japan does have themed food and drinks we just couldn’t pass it up. Dana didn’t care too much about because America has themed food and drinks everywhere every year. We ordered our pumpkin lattes and we sat down and just relaxed. We just chatted for a bit about what we did and what we liked about the shrine. After we were done drinking our coffees, we walked back to our hostel. Once we got back we had to say goodbye to Abby. The hostel will hold on to your stuff for you even after you checked out. We said our goodbyes and gave her a hug as she is off to Osaka before she has to go back to Beijing.

Dinner Time

Dana and I both took a nap because we were really tired from everything we did today. After our nap, it was about dinner time. I recommended to Dana about going to Pontocho area, which is located in downtown Kyoto. They have lots of different food. Dana said there is a food place we could eat called We took the subway there and followed our Google map screenshots, and we got there ok. We didn’t get to badly lost. The restaurants were busy. A mix of foreigners and Japanese people were standing in line. There was a waiting list outside that you had to sign your name and write how many people are in your group. We were 6th place on the waiting list. We had to wait outside tell our names are called. We used this time to look around the area but not too far because the sign said if you are not here when they call your name you will lose your spot.

More Host Boys

While we were waiting, we saw some more cute host boys standing nearby the restaurants. We got a little nervous at first but then we realized they won’t say anything to us because we are poor looking. I know they do profiling and want people in the club that have money to spend. They will look for brand names items that you are wearing or name brand handbags. Also, we notice that they aren’t talking to any foreigners. I did some more research about host clubs and found out a few things. They want their customers to become regulars and don’t want someone who only wants to come to the host club just for the experience. Also, they want local girls because they know the customs of the host clubs, speak Japanese, and have to pay in cash. No credit cards. Just a few interesting facts I found and just by observing the host club boys because I had nothing else to do while we waited for our names to be called.

The dinner was pretty good. We order some boneless chicken wings and some dumplings. We tried there orange spicy sauce. The orange spicy sauce was so good. Dana took a picture of the bottle to reminded us to buy some of it later from the grocery store.

After dinner, we walked around a little bit. It was only 9 pm and we started to see drunk people on the street. Then we saw a few bars and one nightclub. We realized we were on a party street. We went another street down and it was a big difference between the two. The other street was just a bunch of stores to go shopping at. They had a lot name brand stores and some local stores. Everyone seemed pretty sober on this street, unlike the other one.

After our interesting night out, we headed back to our hostel. After our crazy fun, we started making plans for tomorrow and headed off to bed.

 

Japan trip September 2017

4th Day In Japan. Day Trip To Osaka.

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Getting to Osaka Station

We got up in the morning and ate breakfast.  I asked Abby one more time if she was going to come or not.  She decided not to come with us.  She was only in Japan for four days so she wanted to make the most of it.  I understood.  So Dana and I went to Kyoto station.  We had to ask the information desk on which train to take to Osaka station.  Then we found our train and we were off.

We arrived in Osaka station and we decided to to take another train.  We had to go one more stop and I wasn’t sure how to get to the church by walking.  We don’t have the internet on our phone unless we have Wi-Fi.  We got on one of the trains that we thought we needed.  My screenshot of Google maps said to take the train to one stop and get off.  So We did that.  When we got off and read the sign, we realized we were at the wrong station.  We didn’t understand what we did wrong so we asked the guy that was working the platform how we can get to the station we need.  We found out what we did wrong.  We were on the express train.  We needed the local train.  The express will skip stops and we missed our stop.  Once we figured that out we got on the right train and finally arrived at our destination.

Mustard Seed Church 

The church was right across the station.  We were only a few minutes late.  They were already singing when we got in.  So we found some seats and started to sing along.  They had a projector on the screen that showed the words with English and Japanese.  But when they started singing in Japanese the screen will show Japanese first then English.  I found this a little different compared to Taiwan.  New Life will show English, Chinese, and Romanization.  I can read Romanization and I thought they would have that too.  But at Mustard Seed, they only have Japanese writing and English.  I was sad.  I couldn’t try to sing along very well in Japanese.

After service, we found out that they were having a potluck today.  We lucked out.  We got free food!!  Can’t say no to free food.  We talked to a girl that was from America.  Her name is Julia and she is in the JET program.  What a coincidence.  Dana is trying to get into the JET program and here at the church is someone that is in the program.  We got our food and we sat with Julia and another girl name Vivian.  She is from Taipei, Taiwan.  She is on a work visa for three months working in sales.  We chatted for little bet about Taiwan and how it compares to Japan.  After we were done eating, we asked what we could do nearby.  Julia recommended Dotonbori.  She said there are a lot of shops and food there.  Plenty to do and see around there.  She said it’s near Osaka station.  So now we know what we are going to do now.  Off to Dontonbori.

Dotonbori

We walked back to Osaka station and walked around the station first to see what we could find.  We found so much Delishes food in the area.  We were drooling over all the wax food set up in the display case.  But we just ate and decided to get the parfaits.  It was so good!!!  I love ice cream and Japan is big on eating ice cream and sweets.  Here is a picture of a wax figures parfaits.

After we got done eating desert we walked around some more.  We found Dontonori and I didn’t know what expect.  I didn’t know anything about this shopping area and when we got there I was surprised.  There were so so so much food and shops everywhere.  We walked around for most of the time there.  We saw a big video game arcade place.  Someone was playing Dance Dance Revolution and there was a big crowd watching the guy.  After a few hours of walking we ended up back at the arcade place and he was still going at it.  I was surprised that he was still there and still going strong.

Capsule Toys

We also found a capsule place.  There where so many choices of capsules to pick from.  You could get some anime capsule toys or key chains, small food toys, Halloween Pokemon toys, Hello Kitty keychain or toy, and so on.  I found the Halloween Pokemon toys and just had to have one.  Most capsule toys cost 200yen or 300yen.  It’s a lot of fun and I got addicted real fast.  I found a Sailor Moon keychain capsule machine.  I grew up watching Sailor Moon and just for 200yen, you can get a Sailor Moon keychain.  I figured I would just get one Sailor Moon keychain.  Once the capsule came out of the machine I opened it up and I received Sailor Jupiter.  My favorite character because I love the color green.  Then I wanted another one.  Its only 200yen, it’s no big deal.  Well, by the time I was done I ended up with three Sailor Jupiter’s, two Sailor Mars, two Sailor Venues, one Sailor Moon, and one Luna.  I spent a little over $20 dollars on this.  Haha. I had to walk away before I spent more.  Those capsule machines are addicting.

Food

We started getting hungry again so we walked around for a little bit.  Dana wanted to try this shop that she saw on YouTube. So we walked around for a little bit and we found one of the shops that she has been wanting try.  It was an Okonomiyaki shop.  We sat down next to the bar area and looked at the menu.  It has Japanese and English.  We decided to share our food so she got the Okonomiyaki and I order Takoyaki.  It was so good and filling.  I’m glad we shared our two dishes.  Yum Yum!!!

 

Host Boys!!

After dinner, we walked around some more.  We found a bridge and took some pictures of it.  Then I notice a really big poster on a building that was advertising handsome men and I realized it was a host club.  I only read articles about host and hostess.  Also, seen anime and Japan drama that showed Host and Hostess and what they may or may not do, but I never thought I would see one myself.  Actually, I forgot all about the host clubs in Japan.  Once I saw the picture all my memories about host clubs started flooding back to me.  Usually if you see these signs there is a host club nearby.  I started getting nervous.  I told Dana about the poster and how there might be a host club nearby.  We started walking down another street and there they were.  There were two of them standing near the intersection.  I got really nervous.  I was like, this can not be happening.  I’m seeing them in real life.  It was star stuck.  Realizing these people are real and not just a fantasy.  I got to nerves to keep going so I Dana and I turned around and headed back where we came from.

 

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Host Boys Poster

 

Getting Home

We took the train back to Kyoto.  We were very tired.  We got back to Kyoto around 11.  As we were walking back to our Hostel, I realized, I didn’t know how to get back in.  The staff lock the door at 11.  Dana couldn’t remember either.  We both remember something about using our key card but couldn’t remember where to use it at.  Maybe on the door or some side entrance, we didn’t know.  Once we got to the hostel the staff were still inside.  We were both relieved.  We tried to open the door, but of course, it was locked.  The staff opened the door and told us to use our key cards next time.  We told her we didn’t know where to use the key card at.  She pointed to a padlock on the side wall and showed us how to use it.  Haha. That was a little embarrassing.  But we got in the hostel just fine and got around for bed.

Hope you enjoyed the story.  Sorry for being so behind.  That’s why I’m writing dates at the top of the blog so you will know what day this all took place.  So much has happened and I have so much to write about.  Remember, if you want to see more pictures from the trip to Japan, and get some spoilers from the pictures of what I’ve been up to, just go to my facebook blog page and have a look.  Write again soon, I hope.

 

Japan trip September 2017

3rd Day In Kyoto, Japan

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Woke up this morning to a rainy day. I looked at the weather report and it said it would rain most of the day. But Abby and I had plans today to go to Saga-Arashiyama area to see the bamboo forest and then go see the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion). It wasn’t raining so bad so we decided to go out anyway and hope for the best.

Bamboo Forest

We took the train again to get to Saga-Arashiyama area. We had to go to a whole different part of the Kyoto Station to get to the train that we needed. We took the local train and it would be five stops before we arrive. Once we got there we just followed the other tourist people. Once we got to temple called Nonomiya Shrine we had to turn left. We wanted to find the bamboo forest first so we made a mental note to come back here and check it out. It didn’t take to much longer to get to the bamboo forest after that. It was amazing!! The bamboos were so tall that you do feel like you are in a forest. The path starts out thin with a good amount of bamboo but once you go further in the bamboo forest the bamboos get taller and thicker. You will see some shrines along the way as you walk through the forest. There is even a small temple along the way. Once you get to the other side of the bamboo forest you will see a lot of tourist standing around waiting there turn to get there picture taken. If you take your picture at this point it will turn out really nice with the bamboo being at there tallest and thickest part of the forest. It will be a nice long path behind you in the picture where the bamboo looks like it will never end. Such an amazing thing to see. We took a different path wounding where it would take us. It took us to the residential area. It was a very quiet area with not many tourist people. The houses were very beautiful with a big gate or wall for privacy. The road between the houses where very nature like and beautiful to walk through without many cars around. We got turned around and ended up going in circles. So we retraced our steps and found our way back to the bamboo forest.

We finally made it out of the Bamboo Forest and I could finally breathe again. There where so many people there and even with the rain it didn’t stop anyone from going out and about. We went back to Nonomiya Shrine and checked it out. It was pretty nice. A lot of small shrines here and there throughout the grounds. You have to pay to go the rest of the way in but we decided not to because we were looking forward to seeing the Golden Pavilion.

Bus

We took a bus to the Kinkakuji area. It wasn’t too far from the bamboo forest but since it was raining we didn’t want to walk in the rain. To take the bus, it is a flat rate fee of 230yen. No matter how far you go. It will say on the bus wall if it’s a flat rate and if it’s not it will tell you when it won’t be a flat rate anymore and what stops those are. When the bus arrives you have to get on through the side door. Not the driver door. The driver door is used to pay for your fare and to exit the bus. So we got on the bus and we just stood on the bus because all the seats were taken. Once we arrived at our destination, Abby used her IC card and so did I.

Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion)

Once we got off the bus, we just followed the crowd again to the Golden Shrine. You will have to pay to get into the temple. It’s about 500yen. Once you get in, you will have to walk a little bit but then you will see a split. You will want to turn right because that is where you can get a good picture of the temple and a selfie. It was AMAZING!!!! It was just amazing to see and all its wonders. I can’t explain how beautiful this temple was. So here is a picture. Not as good as it could have been if it wasn’t raining but you get the point.

We walked a little bit more after we got done with our picture taking at the temple. There are a few little things to see but not too much. The main thing at this temple is the golden temple itself.

New Friend

We headed back to our hostel after that. We got some food and coffee and just rested after that. Once we got back to our hostel, a new girl moved in the bed next to Abby and across from my bed. We started talking to her. Her name is Dana and she is from New York. She is going to be staying in the hostel for one month to study Japanese. She just graduated from college and wants to get a job with an agency called JET. JET helps you get a job in Japan teaching English for one year. I hope she succeeds. It’s not easy to get into the JET program. The competition is pretty high.

Anyway, I told her about how I’m going to go to church in Osaka called Mustard Seed. I wanted to find a church that was bilingual in English and Japanese. I found one in Osaka that was close too Osaka station. We can just take the train to Osaka station from Kyoto station. Not too difficult. I invited both Abby and Dana to go with me. Abby said she might go and Dana said she would definitely go. We both wanted to make new Japanese friends. It’s good to have a local as a friend so they can give you all the information that you can’t find on the internet or books.

Should be a great day. We are planning to spend the day in Osaka after church service. Might as well see what is there before I have to stay in Osaka for three days. Hope you enjoyed the read. Talk to you guys again soon.

 

Japan trip September 2017

2nd Day In Kyoto, Japan

Friday, September 15th, 2017

It is still hard for me to believe I’m here. I never thought I would come here. I gave up on this dream a long time ago. Now that I’m here and it still feels like it’s a dream and none of this is real. I’m still waiting for myself to wake up. But I’m really here and this is really happening.

Breakfast Time

I got up around 5 am. The rule in the hostel is you can’t use a hair dryer till 7 am because people are sleeping. So I just lay there waiting for 6 am. Once 6 am came around, I got up, took a shower and cleaned up. The hostel has a coffee shop downstairs and I asked the guy that was working at the counter what time they serve coffee. He said they start serving drinks and breakfast around 8 am. It was only 7 am. So I went to 7/11 that is just down the street from the hostel. The 7/11 here is really nice. It has a lot of choices for sushi, rice balls, and so much more. I saw the rice ball and just had to have it. Checking out was a little different for me. They have a tray that you need to put your money on. They will ask you if you want a receipt, and they give you a bag for free. You have to understand. I’ve been living in Taiwan for four years. The 7/11 in Taiwan you just hand them your money in there hands, you have to take the receipt, because they have numbers at the top of the receipt that is used for the lottery every month, and they will charge you if you want a bag for your stuff. So going to 7/11 was a little different for me.

 

I went back and ate my breakfast. By then it was 8 am and I could have some hot coffee. My friend Abby that I just met yesterday came down to eat breakfast from the coffee shop. We talked about our planes while we ate and drank coffee. Then we were off.

On Our Way

We decided to take the local train. Their trains look similar to the subway but its above ground. Also, it’s a bit tricky to get the right rail line or subway line. Some trains will say on small print that this is a local train. That means they will stop at every stop location. Or it will say express. That means fewer stops. Also, some subway/train lines don’t connect to other lines. You will have to leave the subway/train station and go above ground and go down a block or two to get to the other subway/train line. It’s a beat confusing for me and even more confusing when you don’t have internet on your phone. But luckily I was with Abby and we both could be confused together and work on figuring out wish subway/train to take.

 

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Nijo-Jo Castle

 

Nijo-Jo Castle

When we got to Nijo-Jo Castle we were early because it wasn’t opened yet and there was already a line of people at the ticket booth. The ticket booth wasn’t opened yet. We walked on over to the ticket booth and got in line. We didn’t have to wait too long before the ticket booth opened. We bought our tickets for 300yen ( about $3) and got inside the castle. The castle is a beautiful place with reconstructed buildings and an open space garden area. There is even a guard tower that you can climb and get a good view of the castle grounds. There is another area that you get to go inside the castle building and get to see all the artwork on the walls in each room and the layout of the palace. They even had a few wax figures to show what there day to day life is like in the palace. Most of the wax figures would be bowing down to the king on one side of the room, with there weapons on the floor. The king would be on the other side of the room, sitting on his knees and seating upright, looking at his servants. But you can’t take pictures inside because of the artwork on the walls.

After we were done walking around the palace, we walked over to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. It was a long walk to get there. We got lost a few times and made some stops along the way. The stops that we made were at different shrines that we saw. I find the shrines here beautiful. I love learning about different religions and why they do what they do. I see temples and shrines as artwork. It always has beautiful designs on the temples/shrines, an amazing layout of the area, and the attention to detail to each building and entryway. It’s just amazing to look at every day.

 

 

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Kyoto Imperial Palace

 

Kyoto Imperial Palace

It took about an hour but we finally arrived at Kyoto Imperial Palace. When we first arrived there, I didn’t see anything but a park. We walked through the park and then we saw the wall that is surrounding the palace. We had to go to the palace to get to the main entrance. This place was free to explore which is always a good thing. When you go in you have to get in line and pick up a visitor’s tag that you put around your neck. Then you can walk around the grounds freely. It was another beautiful palace with beautiful gardens and building structure. You’re not allowed inside the building of the palace which I was sad about. But it was still worth it to see.

Pig Shrine

After we were done with the palace, we started walking towards Gion area. That’s the area where you can see Geisha in the evening. I was looking forward to that. 🙂 But our next stop before Gion is a pig shrine. Yes, I said a pig shrine. A whole shrine detected for a pig. It makes me laugh. My friend guided us there and it was an interesting shrine. They had these paper charms with a picture of a cartoon pig on it that you would hang up and make a wish. They also had a few statues of pigs there and a small description about how this pig got a shrine. It was very interesting to see and highly recommend seeing the pig shrine.

 

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Pig Shrine

 

Now, on our way to Gion district. We got there in the afternoon and it was very busy. There are lots of shops and kimono rental stores everywhere. You can see a lot of tourist people wearing kimonos up and down the streets. The kimono looks very beautiful but I don’t think I will wear one. To rent a kimono it cost about 30-40 dollars just for one hour. Most people do it just for the experience and get their pictures taken in traditional areas. I sneaked in some pictures of a few tourists that were wearing them that day. We also saw several rickshaws in the area. That is where a guy is pulling a rickshaw with one or two people inside the cart. It’s really neat to see and watch them pass by you. There were a few shrines that we visited and also a traditional looking tower. We also saw a couple getting there wedding photos done in the area. There was a photographer and his assistant taking a lot of photos of the couple that were dressed up in kimonos. Then we saw some high schoolers, about six of them, dressed up in kimonos and they where standing along a bridge. Their teacher was taking photos of them and a small crowd started to form. After the teacher was done taking their photo everyone in the crowd wanted to take their photos. The students looked surprised but went along with it. One after another, a tourist was coming to take pictures of them. One of the tourists asked their teacher, not realizing that they are students if they are geishas in training? The teacher explained that they are not geishas in training. They are students and are just on a school field trip. The only sad thing about going to Gion area is that I didn’t get to see a geisha because they only come out in the evenings. I will have to go back there in the evening and see if I can see one before I leave.

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The rickshaws that I mentioned.

 

We decided to head back to the hostel but we needed to find the right train or subway. Just because you see a station doesn’t mean that’s the one you need. The first station we went to was not the right one. We only figured that out after we were already down in the station and looked at all the different signs and maps and realized this was not the one we needed. We had to go all the way back up to the street and walk about two blocks to get to the right one. (I don’t remember the name of the stations very well though out my trip. I was always going to different train stations or subway stops and could never remember the names.) We finally found the right train that we needed and headed back to the hostel.

It was a great day of walking and exploring the area. Even though we got lost but that’s part of the fun. Its how you find new things that you wouldn’t have found if you stuck to your map correctly. Hope you enjoyed the read. More to come soon when I’m not too busy or exhausted from walking all day. Remember, if you want to see more pictures from my trip, just click on my Facebook blog page below.

 

 

Japan trip September 2017

First day in Japan

September 14th, 2017. Thursday

I made it!!!!!  I was a little worried that my flight was going to get canceled because of the typhoon but everything went ok.  My flight left on time and we flew over the typhoon with very little turbulence.  My flight was about three hours and I landed in KIX (Kansai, Osaka) airport.

Once I landed in Japan the first thing I noticed was the security checkpoint where foreigners have to go through.  There was a lot of people and I thought I would be there for two hours.  But I got through everything in 30 minutes.  They had about 9 people there working on checking us though.  It was very efficient and fast.  No problems.

SIM Card Fail. 

Next, I wanted to check out the bus tickets.  I read online that the bus from Kansai airport to Kyoto station comes every 30 minutes, but then I saw a SIM Card stand and decided to check it out. I wasn’t planning on getting one.  I was just going to use the free WiFi from my hostel, coffee shops, and 7-11.  I went over and talked to them about getting a SIM card.  You can get a SIM card for one month for 5,000yen or for one week for 300yen.  You can have a demo on your phone to make sure the SIM card will work and check out the internet speed.  Everything worked fine during the demo and they did tell me there wouldn’t be any refunds.  So I paid for the SIM card and they help me to get it sit up.  Five minutes later my phone shut down and restarted itself.  Thinking, no big deal.  My phone does that sometimes.  Another five minutes, it happens again, then again, then again.  By this time I was already on the bus heading to Kyoto.  I just switched out my SIM cards and haven’t had a problem since.  But back to the original problem.  So now I’m back to my original ideal.  Free WiFi at my hostel, coffee shops, and 7-11.  And 5,000yen less.

Bus Ride To Kyoto Station

Everyone was so nice to me at the station.  I went to the window to buy a ticket and she said I could use the machine on the wall because it has English.  Keep in mind, I was told that nothing will be in English in Japan.  So I was happy with that.  Got my bus ticket and got in line for the bus.  There were two lines for the bus.  I didn’t know wish line to get in, but both lines were for the bus too Kyoto Station.  So I just got on the left line.  Turned out one line was for more than one person or groups, and the line was for single riders.  So I guessed right.  The bus driver was helpful to me.  He only knew a little English and spoke Japanese the whole time.  Luckily he was using body language with me so I could figure out what he was saying.  The only thing I found strange was he asked me if I was ok with sitting on a lower seat.  I thought he meant the floor because the bus was full and the only place left was the aisle way.  I didn’t think much of it.  I said ok it was fine, thinking I was going to sit on the floor, and I get on the bus and it dawned on me what he meant by a lower seat.  On the left side of the bus are these side seats that you pull down to sit in the aisle way.  I went to the one that was in front of another woman.  My first attempt to get the seat down was a big fail.  I had no idea what I was doing and I was so nerves that I couldn’t think.  Apparently, it was a lot easier then I thought. The other Japanese people on the bus saw me struggle and three people, left, right, and in front of me ended up helping me all at the same time.  There is a latch on the side of the seat that you push to unlock the seat and it comes down.  Then you left up the small back part for the seat.  Now you have a small seat in the aisle way that is connected to the seat next to it.  I was so embarrassed.

 

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This is what the inside of the bus looks like with the side seats that you can pull down.

 

Arriving At My Hostel

 

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LE9 Hostel in Kyoto. 

 

I booked a Hostel called The Lower East Nine.  I booked this one because it was a 10-minute walk from Kyoto Station and one-minute walk from the subway. When I arrived at my hostel, there was another girl waiting there.  She was checking in. When I arrived I told the guy I was checking in.  He decided to wait on telling the other girl the rules because it would be easier for him to tell us both at the same time.  So I filled out my paperwork and he explained the rules to us.  Then we both went to our rooms and settled in.  The girl name is Abby and we started talking to each other.  She was only in Kyoto for four days and was going to Osaka for one day.  Turns out she is an English teacher in Bangjing for an orphanage in the countryside.  She has to do a visa run from time to time and this was one of those times.  What I found even more interesting is that she is also from Indiana and her parents are from Auburn In.  My hometown.  I haven’t met anyone from Indiana since Thailand.  It’s a rare thing to happen as a traveler to find someone from Indiana.  Most people I met come from California, N.Y., Boston, Texas, and Chicago.  So we got along really well and we decided to plane trips together for tomorrow.  We plane to go see Nijo-Jo Castle, a pig shrine, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Gion area.  Should be a great day.  🙂

We went out to eat and found a shopping mall that was close to the Hostel.  The other small restaurants didn’t seem to be open yet at 7pm.  Or if they were open, there was no one inside.  We looked around at some restaurants and looked at the menus that they had outside of each restaurant.  Most places we looked at were priced around 500yen to 1,000yen.  Not so bad.  We found one that we both wanted to try.  It was a restaurant that served Okonomiyaki. So we tried it out and it was very delicious!  Loved it!!  I would highly recommend eating this when you are in Japan.  I can’t really describe the taste of it.  It’s just amazing!!

 

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Okonomiyaki!!!  Yum!!!

 

As we started to whine down, we went back to our hostel and went to bed.  The bed is so comfortable.  It was pretty easy to fall asleep.

Hope you enjoyed my story so far about my trip.  More exciting things to come.  I meet a new friend in the hostel, small day trips in Kyoto and Osaka, and more embarrassing stories to come.