Wednesday, 30 September 2009

'Lost in Kyoto'

According to our son Mike, there is a song called 'Lost in Kyoto' ... we have been lost a couple of times but have always been helped out by a local more than willing to oblige us and point us in the right direction. Most Japanese (in Kyoto anyway) seem to know English ~ even if it's just a smidgen. We try and speak what little Japanese we know when we can.
So we have been literally lost in Kyoto, but figuratively not so much, feeling 'at home' here from the start. Having family here adds a certain element of familiarity. However yesterday's news of a tsunami hitting Samoa and the loss of life there, with threats of high waves on NZ's coastline made home seemed very far away, and I did feel a little homesick for familiar faces and locales.

Some dancers I went to see with K, whom we got to know when she came over to NZ for S&E's wedding. She was able to translate for me the information about the beautiful costume's ornamental details and history. It was great having my own personal translator!

A tree covered with paper fortunes. This is one of the many temples (Bhuddist) and shrines (Shinto) we have kindly been taken to visit in Kyoto ~ 'temple city'.

Our friend adds her fortune to the tree.

This is a prayer request that had been hung on another notice board ~ we thought it was rather cute. And it was in English too, which helps!

Outside the temple I have dubbed 'the temple on the hill.' Great views over South Kyoto. When we were there with Steve, there were hordes of school students on a school visit, which I guess could have been annoying but I actualy found their excitement and energy only added to the enjoyment of the visit. They sure were noisy! But it was a happy noise.

In this photo you can see how crowded it was. Steve took this ~ we are there somewhere in the front right by the rail. You can see my red top.

Steve also took us around his old hood in the Gijo district. He has written an interesting blog about it as among other things, it is where the Japanese mafia hang out. I am standing in front of the many 'tea houses' (which is a euphemism.)

This is called Kyoto Kitchen by the tourists and is a long, long line of stalls full of food.

I wonder what they sell here?

This guy bakes biscuits as you watch, using a toaster / hot plate apparatus to bake them on.

Any account of Japan wouldn't be complete without mentioning the funny and quirky (to Westerners) things you see here.

... like branch proppers ...

... mannequins to show how smart your trousers can look while deep bowing! ...

... fair enough too I say! ...

... Steve said that paper v scissors settles many scores with his students and is accepted without question as a way of settling dilemmas or conflict ...

And everywhere you go there is always a 'Pig and Whistle' somewhere for ex~pats to meet up and have a beer and play darts.

One of many delicious Japanese meals we have enjoyed. This is at a vegan restaurant. We are being very spoilt. When we don't eat out, we get to eat E's fabulous cooking (and Steve's a pretty good cook too ~ must be in the surname!)

We are off to Hiroshima today ~ a trip on our own. A litle nerve wracking to go without our guides and interpreters.


Clare Dudman said...

Fascinating, Kay - what a wonderful time you're having! That temple looked so full it looked like it was in danger of falling down the hill, and I loved that first picture of the close up of the dancers' faces - expertly done!

Anonymous said...

Hello Kay
Just catching up on some of your impressions of Japan. Glad to see you're enjoying Kyoto. The weather's been horrible in Kanto the past few days so hope it's missed you! And it's good to see some photos of familiar places. I lost count of the number of times I visitied Kiyomizu Temple (did you drink the water?) when I was living in Osaka and the streets around there are also fun!

paris parfait said...

Thanks for sharing these interesting glimpses of life there! Love the paper prayers on trees, the signs and the branch propper! When my daughter was three, she played rock, paper, scissors with a little Japanese girl on a plane en route NY - Amman. They couldn't communicate via language. But they played the game over and over again, giggling all the while. xo

McDinzie said...

oh love it love it love it....great piccies...and I just love the quirky Japan. dont know if I could.

only a week to go!!!!!!

pst...somebody close to us is having a b'day on the 11th...and its a BIG one

dinzie said...

I think you've clinched the 'Photo of the year' with that 1st picture og the dancers ....awesome.....:O)

Love the quirky bits :O)especially that shop :O) But deep bowing manequins!!!!! who would have thought it !!!!


January said...

What a fabulous trip! Thanks for the photos. Looks like you're having a wonderful time with your family.

Love the photos of the signs in English.

Avus said...

Loved the "bowing trousers" pic and the witty (and historical) use of the "scissors beat paper". )If only Hitler could have accepted Churchill's "V" sign and backed off we could have saved the world a heap of heartache)

rel said...

Oh Kay, what an awesome adventure you are on. So much to take in; your powers of observation must be in overload mode. ;)
I'm reminded of the few months I lived in Yokosuka Japan, recuperating from wounds received in Viet Nam. I was certainly enamored of Japanese culture; still am for that matter.
Soak it all up my friend. You and "R" look like you're having the time of your life!

Becky Willis Motew said...

Wow, just wow!!!

And all I've done this week is remember to use a grocery store coupon. Gorgeous! Love the bending trousers!


Jan said...

Wonderful pictures, Kay. I really enjoyed this post. I'll be back again soon. Great to keep in touch.

apprentice said...

This is a lovely post Kay. The shots of the dancers especially and it is lovely to see half of your family all at the table together. The wee one has really grown!

The footage of the tsunami, and the earthquake, has been heart-breaking.

Take care and enjoy the rest of your trip.

Anne Camille said...

Kay, I just finished reading your Japan posts. Thanks so much for sharing. I love the small museum sign. Am amused that rock/paper/scissors is used to settle debates. There is a story - don't know if it's true or not -- about a Japanese business man who couldn't decide whether to have Sotheby's or Christie's auction his artwork, so he told them to use Rock/paper/scissors to figure it out. When your choices are equal, it makes as much sense as anything for deciding. :)

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