Bicycles in Kyoto

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Sunday, March 6, 2011

12:10 Today has been much more productive, I set my alarm for 9 and ignored it for a while as I got up at 945 in the end. I was awake for 2 hours last night when i couldn't breathe properly. I couldn't breathe through my nose because it was blocked and every time I tried breathing through my mouth to go back to sleep I'd wake up shortly after with a completely dried out mouth. I was not comfortable at all.

Me and Ursula rented a bike for 600 each and went cycling around the backstreets of Kyoto over in the direction of the temples of Higashiyama. We just set off in the right direction and eventually found a temple, we don't know which one but it was quiet, and a service was happening. We think a funeral, and there was a golden gate which i've included pictures of, as well as a traditional graveyard which was unlike anything I've seen before.  
12:20 We  carried on and came across a massive buddha called Ryozen memorial, which also has a memorial to the unknown soldier inside the complex. We had to pay to go in and were given a burning stick to put in a round shrine in front of the big buddha. 
We also were able to walk inside the buddha, were there were lots of statues with the years written under, ie a statue of a year of the horse, or rabbit buddha. I'm not sure how many years of... there are, but there were quite a few statues up there. 
When we went into the Unknown Soldier memorial there was a stained glass window with soldiers on it, and also a big plaque with writing in English dedicated to the soldiers. There was also a room to the side with a glass cabinet and the cabinet had jars of soil in from each of the memorial sites around the world. It looked a bit faded and neglected now, which was a shame, because generally things seem to be upkept pretty well here. 
We walked the bikes down the small pedestrian streets around the area which are all little shops dedicated to local things- food, crafts, art, as well as souvenir shops. We stopped at a restaurant to have some lunch and enjoy the perfectly manicured Gardens from the glass doors we sat by. There were also a great deal of people dressing up traditionally in both the mens and womens costumes, which made our walk around the place quite charming.

The main temple we were aiming for was the Kiyomizudera Temple. There were a lot of people there, but I forget that it's the weekend. The place is supported on lots of beams as it juts out from the hillside.
They have love stones, which you have to walk between with your eyes closed. I decided to try, I have to add though that there were a LOT of people up there and not much space at all. I set off, eyes closed, arms outstretched in front of me as if feeling my way through the dark. People didn't seem to be in the way at all, they must have moved aside as I came past because I can't tell you how many people were between these 2 stones, 20 metres apart(picture of me with the start stone). If you read the placard in the picture it says "This stone is called "Love-fortune-telling" stone. If you walk safely from this stone to the other with your eyes closed, for once your wish'll be granted soon. If you can't, it will be long before your love is realised, and it is said taking advice requires you to have someone who'll help you achieve your love."
I bought myself a Find Love lucky charm as well, so commemorate my walk. Can't hurt can it!
There were a lot of lucky charms for all sorts - Health, wealth, happiness, love, passing exams, oh and here's an obvious one.....traffic safety!!
I also queued for drinking the healing spring water. Drinking from the waterfall is said to have therapeutic properties, hopefully enough to cure my cold at this point if nothing else!

15:21 Having spent several hours exploring and looking at temples, it started to rain so we rode back to the hostel and walked into town. I found a pharmacy and got something for sore throat and I think some decongestants. Cost over 2000Y!! Hopefully it will soothe things and help me sleep and breathe tonight. 
As we walked back towards the hostel there as a demonstration going on against TPP,there was farmers on tractors and lots of people following. Apparently an import tax has gone which now means that people are importing foods for cheaper than the farmers can now sell them.

It was about 4 by the time we got back to the hostel. I sorted my pictures and blog with a cup of tea and then coffee whilst watching a film borrowed from the front desk. A few more people arrived and we all decided to go out for dinner nearby at a japanese restaurant. 
When we got there we had to take our shoes off as we sat on a mat around a table which had a hot plate embedded in it. A couple of guys ordered a japanese pizza, which was really just an omlette, and they cooked it on the hot plate on the table. 
Bliss didn't come because her card has expired and she has no money, and no back up. This is crazy and although I'd like to help, I feel reluctant to get involved in anything monetary with anyone. She already owes Ursula 5000Y.
I ordered what I thought was tempura prawns on rice. What actually turned up was some soggy batter spread over rice, and two very very tough and chewy prawns. I tried to eat it, and ate as much as I could, but it wasn't good, and it was expensive. was just disappointing and everyone elses looked much better. 
Sadly, drinking and eating are low on my priority list, and if genuine food continues to be as expensive as it is, and McDonalds remains cheap and consistent then I'm going to be going for the cheap stuff, just so I can get through this year as long as possible.

Best thing today....biking round Kyoto
Worst thing today....poor food and poor value
Most Beautiful... the peace and tranquility in some of the gardens in the temples
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Deb on

Oh Zo, it all looks so familiar, as do your experiences with the food and medicine! Looking at your photos is really making me miss Japan! Best bet for cheap food is to try to find somewhere where other westerners that live there hang out - somewhere like an english pub, and ask them where to recommend - there is a big diff in price between the touristy type places (e.g. you can tell from the outside what you are getting) and the local places.

Hang in there and make sure you get some rest. Even if you were well every day you still wouldn't have enough time to see everything in any of these places. The way I always saw it was that if you get a taster and think you like it then that's all you can ask for, and then you know the places you want to return to for longer.


ps it took me about a year and a half to finally go to see Mount Fuji, and then it was covered in cloud and I didn't see it any better than I did on the train between Tokyo and Kyoto, so you didn't miss much lol


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