Daniel in Japaniel

Wandering the River Kamo

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Arrived in Kyoto with no problems. The ten hour flight went by without notice, before long I was starring out of the emergency exit window (surrounded by Japanese old women) at Mount Fuji floating among the low clouds.

Leaving the plane my eyes were inundated by costumes. Korean Air flight attendents road the monorail with us in their hybrid silk (now some cotton) dresses, a modified blouse over matching tight skirts. Meanwhile Dutch and or otherwise indistinguishable (to me) europeans followed the lines to immigration. My introduction back into the language came haggling with the officers over the temporary travel vista their were giving me. They, unfortunately, misunderstood me to mean that my dad is a stationed soldier in Okinawa. So far so good.

Unable to win them over, I agreed to the 90 days (for now).

That night was spent orienting ourselves on the temple grounds, the public baths, the tatami situation, futons, rice pillows (the equivalent of a bean bag chair in miniature), and the nearby Circle K. We live in a temple hostel called Koshoji, a separate religious building inside a Pure Land monastery called Honganji.

The night was spent with a few friends at a local grill chatting it up with a local university student (also our cook) named Ekai. We talked about the Olympics for awhile and over again he’d apologize saying “USA number one! I’m sorry, Japanese is sooo weak” while exhaggerating a defeated face and stance. Later the a drunk friend of his came in and the owner proceeded to dance and sing around him, introducing the man as “the Japanese John Travolta”. All with some Asahi draft, this made for a nice end to travelling.

Today was spent wandering the city with two students from Antioch (the former college), Charlie and Paul. We left Kyoto-eki and headed east for the river, followed it up stream meeting fishing high school students, bike fixing homeless men, thailand tourists, and relaxed garbage men. Some of the sites included feral cats mistaken for fantastical beasts (at first) “Oh shit” Charlie said, “I thought they were like, crazy demons but then I saw they were legit cats” or something like that. We picked up deuces of Asahi and enjyoed the sites some more. “Only in Japan you got people weed-whackin the river”. The river itself had intricate concrete/conglomerant designs meant to protect from (the best we could guess) erroding the surroundings and or protecting the marshes the plentiful herons were chowing down in.

We eventually cut across the river again and headed towards the Royal Palace where it was rumored a giant indoor/outdoor (still figuring that one out) mall nicknamed the Village by our TA. Inside was madness, we took it all in. Japan is a constant high of sensory overload. At one moment you are watching a mandocello rock out with a jazzy accordian player, the next you’re taking pictures in photobooths with Japanese school girls. The story there though was that they were forced, we wandered into that place and had no clue what to do, Charlie (excited from winning a superhero action figure from a crane machine) egged me on to invite the two girls to show us how the Photobooths are done. Each picture has the three of us eating each other’s faces while the girls continued the classic “V for Victory” pose. Bless their spirit.

For the last few hours, I’ve been dicking around in this new electronics store across the street from this internet cafe called “Bic Camera”. It’s about 7 floors of any gadgetry you can imagine. We spent most of the time looking for cheap watches, and laying in four thousand dollar massage chairs. Every day will be spent in those.

Time is up for my free hour here. Tonight is simple enough sleep for the tired. Tomorrow is more touring and exploring. Monday is the day zazen and classes begin.

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Written by Daniel

September 6, 2008 at 10:37 am

Posted in wandering

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