Sayonara Kyoto

It’s midnight, & I’m so wired I can hardly think about sleep.

This morning Susie & I slept in a little, & when we got up it was pouring rain.  We had decided to use our last day to the fullest, but the downpour & enjoying our instant cup of coffee while watching the view of the rain falling on the pagoda outside did slow us down a little.

Finally we headed out & had our easy to reach $5 breakfast down the road.  Fortified by another cup of coffee & breakfast, we headed out to tackle the city with our newfound knowledge of the city bus system.

We got on the right bus & went straight to Kinkakuji temple, the site of the golden pavilion, just in time for the bottom to fall out.  Being experienced travelers by now,we just pulled out our ever-present umbrellas & enjoyed the lush green of the maples and the moss.  The pavilion itself sits on, or rather over, a large pond.  The top two floors are coated, inside & out, in gold leaf.  Oddly enough, they won’t let you go inside.  The surroundings of the temple are richest shades of emerald, & jade, & forest greens.  It reminded me of my grandmother… “look at all the beautiful shades of green.” 

We took turns sharing umbrellas with strangers & taking each other’s pictures with our cameras.  Alas, somehow I didn’t get a picture of myself there.

We puttered around in the souvenir shop during the worst of the downpour, & on the way out I stopped for some green tea & vanilla swirled ice cream.  Yum.

Then back on the bus.  I’m an old pro now.

We headed down to a little pedestrian shopping district, but many places were closed.  I didn’t mind though.  The place was deserted compared to Taramachi shopping district, so I was able to meander & look without feeling like I was going to get run over.  You have to watch out for the bike riders though. They can clean you out if you aren’t watching for them.  I looked up once & saw a little boy, maybe five or six, completely covered by a rain slicker peddling with his goulashes on this tiny little bike down the mall.  He hardly looked old enough to know how to ride a bike, but he was smiling ear to ear, obviously proud of himself, as he zigzagged across the entire width of the mall, blissfully unaware that at one point he nearly caused a 3 bicycle pile up & sent a couple of adults careening toward some shop windows. 

I found a place that prepared sushi at the counter & had 8 nice pieces of sushi for about $6.30.  Unfortunately there are few places to sit, & I don’t see Japanese people eating on the go.  Oh well, I’m a tourist, & I don’t know any better.  So I sat down on the wall of the courtyard children’s playground in the center & had myself a little sushi feast.  I ate octopus today & found it quite tasty & not at all boingy liked I’d feared.  The salmon was especially excellent.  I skipped the clam, as it has the consistency of chewing an uncooked tongue.

Then I heard a high-pitched giggle & looked over as bicycle boy was sliding down the slide in the rain into a puddle at the bottom.  He reminded me of my nephews so much – Daniel especially.  Just playing by himself, entirely unselfconsciously giggling & stomping & singing & entertaining himself while his grandmother looked on.  I took some pictures of him twirling his umbrella & stomping & washing his hands in the puddles.  He finally noticed me, & I showed him his picture on my camera.  He looked unimpressed & went back to his puddle. 

We wandered around for a while down the street outside the mall & found nothing of particular interest.  We hopped a bus & headed back into town.  There were three women, in their late 60’s I would guess, all dressed to the nine’s in their immaculate & very expensive kimonos, complete with tied obis and covered with an outer yukata.  Their stockinged feet in wooden clogs & covered with plastic covers to protect them from the rain. Their hair styles were works of art.  Many women, including young women, dress in traditional elaborate kimonos for a nice evening out.  I could hardly stop looking at this group of friends, they were so striking.    

It was still early yet, so we looked for a place to have a quick drink & a sit.  I took us over to where I’d found the Irish pub the night before, & we explored the area.  Found a store with antique silk fabric.  Wow, that was neat.  Unobtainable, but really neat.  I bought a couple of postcards there.

After having exhausted our options on that street we headed back to the Irish pub.  It was, at least, a sure thing & we were ready to take a load off.  A different person greeted us from behind the bar, & the place had a particularly fun & friendly atmosphere this evening.  We ended up meeting some people from Yorkshire & Canada & chatted them up.  Had a few American drinks & a lamb pita that was good.  We checked our emails & sent some home.  It was uncomplicated & familiar, & to be honest, we’re both looking for familiar. 

Susie & I both admitted to each other that our hearts are already back at home, & we aren’t fighting it anymore.  I miss my kids, & Susie’s are coming into town the day after she gets home.  Plus, we were a real sight tonight.  Both of us primping & plucking & powdering like we were getting ready for a first date.  We’re ready to see our guys. 

Packing had its usual challenges.  Susie has a routine every time we’re leaving a city.  She becomes convinced that there was something she bought that she has lost.  She unpacks everything she has in all her bags & spreads it around her like some kind of untidy nest.  She frets & mutters to herself all the way through it.  I used to try & help her find the missing item; then I started encouraging her that it would turn up.  I have since learned that it is part of a ritual I do not understand, & I just assume I am unnecessary to the ongoing discourse.

Now there is nothing left to do but to go to sleep, & as impossible as that seems, I guess I will try it. 

Sayonara Kyoto.

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