If i had to describe how my brain feels right now, I’d say it feels like a gigantic pillow of wet cotton candy! The cherry blossoms we’ve seen so far have been awe-inspiring. I hope you enjoy some of these photos from Kyoto. We enjoyed Kyoto so much, despite the weather. It rained pretty much every day and we were very wet.
Kyoto is great city. I’ve heard it has 1800 shrines and temples within the city proper. Everywhere we went, we were rewarded with views of old wooden buildings, beautiful Buddhist temples, and spectacular Japanese gardens. They also have lovely Japanese temples. Then there were the cherry blossoms, the real reason we’re in Japan undertaking this awe-inspiring journey. They dot so many Japanese cities.
Pink petals and pink powder puffs a-plenty greet us at each turn. Magical!
Sakura (cherry blossom) season is a very important part of Japanese culture. Japanese people treasure this time of year and they are out in full-force enjoying the blossoms everywhere.
They bring food (or go to food carts) and then picnic with their friends underneath the cherry trees. it’s a lovely sight to see them enjoying their natural treasures.
We’ve done a lot of sightseeing since we arrived. I brought my fit
bit with me and we are walking between 7-9 miles most days. At the end of the day my feet and legs are very sore, so are Andy’s but it’s worth it.
While in Kyoto, we stayed in an Airbnb studio apartment in the Gion district. While the location was fantastic, the one-room studio was very, very cramped and had absolutely no charm. We made it work, but it wasn’t ideal. We had to climb two very steep flights of stairs to the second floor, and once we entered the cramped studio, there are no pictures or artwork on the walls and it was such a drab place.
In fact, the bathroom was so small, only one of us fit at a time.
Each morning have some coffee at a local cafe and then Andy scouts out our plans. Together we decide what attractions we want to see, and then he plots our route. For those of you who might not know, I have the WORST sense of direction of anyone you’ll ever meet. I am always lost and have no internal sense of how to get from one place to another. So this job falls to Andy. After 23 years of living with this, he’s very good-natured about this great shortcoming of mine.
So far he’s been a great traveling companion! It’s nice that we get along so well. I know that every relationship needs someone to lead and someone to follow and I think this is one thing that makes us successful traveling companions. I don’t want to be the leader and I can happily concede this task to Andy-San for the rest of our trip!
After some coffee, we begin our cherry blossom journey. In Kyoto we had to flight huge crowds everywhere we went because Kyoto was jam-packed with tourists, especially Israelis. We met a lot of cool people from Israel! There were people taking photos of cherry blossoms everywhere. Also a lot of Japanese women rented kimonos and wore them throughout Kyoto and that was really a beautiful site to see.
A few days ago we went to see a Japanese baseball game. Andy loves baseball. Did you know that he used to be a baseball writer? So far we’ve seen one game in Korea and we’re slated to see two more games in Japan. Japanese and Korean baseball fans are crazy loud! There is not much talking or passive sitting. The fans are very engaged in the game. They clap and cheer pretty much non-stop and hit noisemakers called thundersticks together. They also eat and eat and eat. Soba, ramen, fried octopus balls, popcorn and even bento boxes. The stadiums we’ve seen have very large selections of food, much larger selections than they do in the United States, and everything is reasonably priced. No $10 beers like where the San Francisco Giants play. And they have sake, delivered by lovely sake girls carrying sake barrels on their backs. I tossed one back.
Another highlight of our trip has been a traditional tofu (tasting menu) dinner we did. I’m so bummed that none of my photos came out. Each of the courses was amazingly prepared, all served on unique pottery, I do realize that not everyone likes tofu, but Kyoto is famous for its tofu because the water is supposed to make it taste great. The prices for both of us was $106 and it was really worth it. Even Andy came away impressed by the service, the uniqueness of the presentation and the beauty of the meal. Most meals are not costing us anything close to that. I’ll write another blog post about costs, but overall, food prices are reasonable. Not as cheap as a $1 quesadilla we get in Zihuatanejo, (lol) but decently priced by San Francisco standards. Tonight for dinner we spent $32.00 for us both.
Today we took the bullet train to Nagoya. It went 200 miles an hour! It was so awesome. We reserved a seat yesterday, and it took us 32 minutes from Kyoto. We could see far in the distance fine, but it seeing things close up was much harder due to the trains speed.
Tomorrow we’re going to go to the place in Japan where they make plastic food models! Plastic models of food are very, very popular in Japan! A lot of restaurants have plastic food models outside their restaurant windows. This is a primary way Andy and i know what the restaurant serves.
Sometimes we take pictures of the plastic food in the window, and then show the picture to the waitstaff so they know what we want to eat. We’ll have to use this method to eat much more often when we get to cities where they speak less English.
After we see the plastic food factories, we will head to Takayama where they have a very famous cherry blossom festival. We will there for three nights. I’m pretty sure we’re going to miss the cherry bloosoms in Takayama because according to all weather reports, they haven’t even started to bloom yet. This is really too bad, but we knew this might happen when we booked this trip. We’ve been blessed to see them in Kyoto in full bloom–and to see some in Seoul. Maybe we’ll be lucky again. I’ll keep you posted.
More news later about this epic adventure. I have so much more I want to tell you about how interesting Japan is and how much fun it has been to share this adventure with Andy, but I’m going to take a bath now!!!! As many of you know, our place in Mexico doesn’t have a bathtub and I love baths. And our hotel room came with a really great amenity kit and I’m excited to put it to good use.
It pains me to sign off without sharing more about Japan but I’ll save some fun facts for another posting.