Kyoto

We have arrived in Kyoto.  It was very strange telling our group of 19 goodbye after having spent the last 3 weeks with them.  It was also very scary to embark on a leg of the journey with no liaison or guide to take care of getting us from one place to another.  Once Catherine dropped us off at the check-in counter, we were on our own.

The plane sounded funny, so despite the fact that I’d only had about 3 hours sleep, I stayed awake the entire flight keeping it aloft.  The flight wasn’t crowded so I was able to move to an empty row of seats, & I watched as we descended over the ocean with all of the ships going in & out of the harbor.  Susie slept the whole way.  In fact, she fell asleep on & off all day – every time she got still for just 5 minutes.  I knew that meant that she was really sick, & I gave her every chance to sleep because I knew she would push herself to keep going if she thought she was holding me up.

Anyway, we arrived at Kansai airport, & some quick questions revealed to me that the trip to Kyoto was 2 hours, not 15 minutes.  Oh boy.  We managed to get through immigration & customs in little time; however, my fatigue almost caused a major problem.  After we’d made it through customs & walked through the door of no return I realized I had left my sheets with all my flight, hotel, & everything information on the desk where we had filled out our paperwork.  The Japanese are so proper & polite.  We found a very kind older gentleman who escorted us around through “staff only” doors back to where we’d been, & another young woman helped us look for the papers.  Someone had already thrown them away, but she found them.  Thank goodness.  They all giggled at me when I made heart attack motions.  They are so reserved; I’m sure I was quite a spectacle.

Then onto find the proper train – all this while lugging 2 tons of luggage because we bought half of China while we were there.  The whole thing was very stressful for me.  Finally we were on a spacious & immaculate train & could relax.  I wanted to fall asleep & did for just a little bit, but Susie was so lethargic she couldn’t stay awake, so I kept waking up for fear of missing our stop. 

Then a taxi ride.  I handed the gentleman our address & map.  We have since learned that he took us quite a circuitous route & we paid twice what we would have otherwise.  At last we arrived at our ryokan.

We seem to have the deluxe room in the place.  It is two rooms, straw mats, futons on the floor.  Sliding paper walls & window coverings.  Having the sitting room is very nice.  We looked out one window, & we can see a pagoda.  From our front room we have a view of Kujiami temple.  We decided just to relax & unwind for a while.  By this time we had been traveling for about 10 hours all total.  We both laid down on our futons for a while, & I dozed off.  At 5:00 the gong at the temple sounded & woke me.  Susie stayed fast asleep.  I decided to sneak out & let her sleep.

There are some steps across the narrow little street outside our front window, so I decided to walk up them.  The steps went up & up & up & then suddenly I could see the head of a colossal Buddha – or it might be a Guyan, not sure.  I went walking around the grounds of the temple, though the temple itself was closed.  Attached to the temple is the Japanese memorial for the unknown soldier of WWII!  It was so cool.  Of course I knew Wallace would want to know everything about it, so I’m going back when it’s open.

I came back & got Susie.  She roused herself.  First, I took her to show her my discovery across the street, & then we went walking the streets of our district.  We are truly in the geisha district.  It’s all so mysterious & quiet around here.  Finally we found a place to eat.  I was starving to death.  It wasn’t particularly cheap, but it was very satisfying.  I had curried pork cutlet & rice with a salad & a big tall beer.

We wandered back to our ryokan about 8:00, & the district was all shut up & quiet as a tomb – kinda weird even, especially after being in China where everything is so bustling & noisy & open.

I tried to take a shower when we got back, but I guess I didn’t understand how to work the thing because I only got half wet before it kicked off.  Oh well.  I toweled off & decided I would have to skip a day.

We crashed at the late hour of 9:00 pm & didn’t wake up until 8:30 the next morning.

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