We arrived in Kyoto this morning after a train journey from Hiroshima. We ate a delightfully Japanese breakfast in the form of Nestle white chocolate for me and a Hersheys bar and japanese tea for Dad. Once again the journey was brilliant - air conditioned train and quick travelling makes us a fan of the trains here.
When we got to Kyoto we got off the train to incredible heat and 5 thousand people trying to get in one lift (many with a tiny suitcase - wimps) so Dad lifted both suitcases down a long flight of stairs. We set off walking to the Ryokan Shimizu (traditional Japanese hotel) using a fine map that we had downloaded from the website. 45 minutes later we were still going round and round in circles, getting hotter by the minute. Eventually we found an English speaking man who helped us find it - i was so grateful i could have given him a kiss, but i didn't :)
We dumped our bags and went back to the bus station to catch a bus to the Ginkakuji Temple. Before we got there, we stopped to get a drink from one of the many vending machines that are all over Japan. They had run out of water so i got a grape juice as it was the only other thing i can understand the label for - big mistake. It tasted like gone off communion wine and was absolutely gross. I was so desperate for a drink though i drank it all and thankfully have lived to tell the tale.
The bus journey took 45 minutes, so we were glad we didn:t walk as the day was getting hotter and hotter. When we got there, the temple was surrounded by scaffolding but we enjoyed the gardens even though Dad thought the sand and gravel gardens looked a bit like someone's drive in our country. We then walked down the Path of Philosophy which proved a very philosophical experience. That took us to the Nanzenji Temple which was actually rather nice, although we had to take our shoes off to walk round. We caught a bus back and went to a Japanese noodle restaurant. Dad had 'Gyudon' which was beef, Japanese mushrooms and rice - no noodles. Naomi had 'Oyskodon' which was chicken, onion, egg and rice - no noodles. They both had special sauce too so we dread the thought of what that was!
On getting back to the ryokan, we took our shoes off at the door and put on the slippers they give you. We went to our room and Dad got told off for not taking his off before he stood on the wooden floor and tatami mats! In the room, there are no chairs or beds. There are tatami mats on the floor and futons on them which is where we sleep. There is a big cupboard where they go when not being used and dad decided to sleep in there - so he lay down on the middle shelf for a couple of minutes! There were also floor cushions instead of chairs, although Dad wasn't agile enough to sit cross legged on them without falling over which was entertaining. We also found a Japanese tea set and yukata (dressing gowns) so Dad decided we will have a tea ceremony tonight, probably very culturally incorrect again. We were brought a drink to our room - which looked a bit like urine. After Dad tried some we realised it tasted quite similar to how it looked. I tried some and i thought it was like stale weetabix - in other words gross. What is it with the juices around the world?! We have just been brought some juice while we're on the computer, but thankfully it's just orange!
We've discovered another strange drink here, called Pocari Sweat. At first we thought it was odd, who'd want to drink the sweat of a pocari - whatever that is? But after buying some because we were intrigued, we discovered it is a special drink to replace the stuff you lose when you sweat and is quite nice to taste - a bit like flat lilt.
Tomorrow we're having a japanese breakfast here in the ryokan which could prove interesting! Then we're getting another train up to Tokyo.
Love from Naomi and Stuart x