There is Something I Don't Understand

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There are a number of things that I don't understand but the buses do have me puzzled.

I was up pretty early today...before 7 am I think...and I got ready slowly and checked my emails, tried to respond to the ones I couldn't successfully send last night.  I set out a little after 8 and hoped that I could get to the moss garden by that I realized the letter mentioned 10 specifically.

I couldn't believe it...even with my hard-earned orientation toward Kyoto Station, it took me a half-hour before I got to the proper bus stop:  #73 according to Frommer's guide.  I looked at the sign for the Kokedera michi to be on the list of stops but I didn't ask why it wasn't...perhaps because of my serious language barrier.  In any case, I got on along with 4 or 5 elderly folks who looked as if they might be going there too.  I began to look out the window to see if there were signs on the stops identifying them.  There didn't always appear to be and I wasn't sure that I could identify it if it were announced either.  I asked the gentleman in front of me who kindly consulted the driver and was told I was on the wrong bus and needed to get on #29.  The old folks got off and the driver told me too get off as well.  By the time I gave him the correct change, the old folks disappeared.  I asked a young man where Kokedera Temple was and he said it was 5 km away.  I only had about 20 minutes to get there at this point.  This was the famous moss temple that I sent away to get permission to enter and now it was all screwed up.  A lightbulb went off and I started looking for cabs.  Wasn't that a bright idea?? 

I made it in time!  There were lots of others and we were ushered into an open pavilion with low tables and calligraphy equipment.  I managed to spill the water for the ink.  First I thought I spilled ink but it was watery so I thought they had washed the trays.  No, it was water to mix with the ink block.  I can't sit at this low table to type on the computer much longer.  Anyway,, we were to write our names and addresses on one side of a little wooden board and our wishes on the other.  Mine with Roman alphabet was definitely not as artistic looking as the Japanese letters.  After we did this, we got to give a donation and lay our boards on a table with a prayer.  Oh, I forgot the beginning, several monks chanted...and it was very restful after my hectic arrival.

After the preliminary, we were allowed into the garden.  There appeared to be a photography teacher and his students because he was advising them and they were quite intent on getting the best shots.  One young woman stood for a very long time in front of some moss....I know this because I wanted her to move so I could get a scenery shot without her in it.  I hope some of my photos come out because I cannot adequately describe this beautiful setting.  There was a lake, lots of trees, some Japanese-style buildings and gates and lots and lots of moss.  There was a lovely dappled light coming through the trees onto the moss and amazingly there always seemed to be ripples on the water.  How did they do that?

I didn't realize it but everyone else had left and they were waiting for me to leave too.  So I did.  I was very hungry at this point...around noon...and got a black sesame soft ice cream cone.  Just as I was about to finish it, a bus came...#73...that was heading back to Kyoto Station.  Why didn't my bus come here?   As I listened to the stops, one appeared to be on Anne's list so I decided I would try to go there.  Of course, I was still having problems figuring out what the stops were.  I got off at one that looked promising, asked some European-looking people what this place was and they said they didn't know.  It turned out to be Arashiyama so life was golden.  Oh, I forgot when I got off, that city bus card that I had bought and thought I used on the first #73 bus didn't work on this one.  The driver was a little huffy about it.  It was a mystery and is still a mystery.

Arashiyama was a very scenic place for Japanese people to go for a nice time in the summer:  boating, walking around in the woods, beautiful scenery and food.  There were rickshaw boys giving people rides on land and boats for rides on the river.  I went in search of the path through the woods.  I saw signs with paths but most were labeled only in Japanese...there were some signs in English for the different points of interest so off I went.  There was a lot of uphill, some stairs, some roads.  I started getting confused.  Went to  an overlook on the river - very nice scene.  Then as I went on, one path petered out, another path seemed to go nowhere special.  After I reached a temple entrance and tried to continue up the road past the temple, I was told it was the end - only a private road.  There was another road leading to a memorial park so I checked that out.  It was quite interesting:  there were a lot of stone monuments, but most of them had big boards with calligraphy similar to the ones we worked on at the moss temple.  After the memorial park, I went to the temple.  More great scenery, a super view of Kyoto and more moss.  After this, I figured it was time to get back since I had run out of water and was beginning to be very thirsty.  I should mention that people here looked oppressed by the weather - lots of women had towels either on their heads or were wetting themselves with them.  I didn't want to get heat stoke or anything.

I manged to get back to where I started with only a few false trails = one uphill.  I was not happy about that but I figured I needed all the training I could get for Fuji-san.  I bought some water from a vending machine and caught a bus back to Kyoto Station - #73.  It left us off very near where I caught the original one but this driver wouldn't take my card either....unless they were just telling me I needed more money because the card only goes  within the inner zone.

I wandered around Kyoto Station a very little bit before I found the restaurants and I picked a different one tonight.  I had some tempura today - good but not so good as yesterday's sushi.  The young staff had to do some kinds of yelling  one to attract customers and the chef while he cooked - I am not sure why, but it did add some excitement to the meal. 

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