Here are some of the highlights: Drinking hot sake at a night-time Cherry Blossom viewing party, counseling the distraught mother of a rebellious teen at four in the morning in a youth hostel, taking a knitting class at a coffee shop, teaching a drunk man how to say the Pledge of Allegiance in a 10 person ‘standing room’ bar, and eating cow intestines and raw liver. Yum.
I think the best part of the trip was the new friend I made. She’s this really interesting neo-hippie Japanese chick who’s lived in Oregon, Hawaii and Sri Lanka. Her dad and brother are Buddhist monks! Cool, huh? I only met her for the first time two weeks ago, at a friend’s dinner party in Shimokitzawa. I told her that I was planning on visiting Kyoto the following weekend and staying with some random dude who sounded a tad on the creepo side, so she invited me to crash at her place.
Her ‘place’ ended up being my very own furnished apartment in a building that her grandmother owns…in the heart of Osaka. We spent the weekend riding our bikes along the riverside, eating, sitting in parks and drinking coffee ice cream floats and then eating some more. Parts of Osaka reminded me of Paris or 5th avenue in New York. I wouldn’t mind living there if I ever move back to Japan.
Parts of Kyoto (land of tourists and temples), reminded me of Disneyland; costumed, heavily made-up Geisha (both real and tourist), pristine blocks re-created to look like 15th century Japan (ala ‘Frontier Land’ in Disneyland)and hordes of camera-toting tourists on the search for that elusive celebrity spotting. In the case of Disneyland, that would be Cinderella or Mickey Mouse, but in Kyotoland, it was a cherry blossom tree in full-bloom or a true-blue, honest-to-God Geisha.
I saw both, but didn’t get a chance to take a picture of either one.
I don’t know why all of the fox statues had baby bibs pinned onto them. A very thoughtful touch, no?
This is a picture of me in front of a shrine praying…for a husband. It is said that if you are young and single and looking for a spouse, you should visit this shrine, give an offering, ring the bell, clap twice, bow and make a wish. I prayed that the Shinto God would kindly overlook my meager 30 cent offering and send a good husband my way…Preferably one that doesn’t live with his parents or own a cell phone charm. : ) This is Japan though, so I might have been a bit unrealistic with that last part.
I’ll let you know how that works out.
PS Vielen Dank, Domo Arigato and many Mahalo’s to Julie for her many helpful sight-seeing suggestions.