Late in the afternoon on the previous day I made my way from hot and steamy Osaka to a slightly less hot but very wet Kyoto. It was pouring. Like seriously pouring. I got myself set up in my hotel – where I would be staying for the next few nights – and took a long hot soak in the tub in my room. Joining me was a cold beer from the vending machine at the end of the hall. I certainly know how to live it up!
I was amazed at just how many westerners there were in Kyoto. At breakfast, there was a large school group of children from a Victorian primary school. I reckon they were probably 11 or 12. What an amazing adventure they must have been having at that age. Seeing such a beautiful part of the world. When I was their age our school took trips to country Victoria in a bus that smelled of vomit.
So yes, there were lots of tourists in Kyoto and I noticed that a lot of the restaurants that I visited offered western ‘style’ food. I say that with a bit of a chuckle as sometimes their interpretations of non-Japanese dishes looked tacky. I always stuck to traditional Japanese dishes and especially ones I had not tried before. Why go all the way to Japan to eat pizza?
It was that first night in Kyoto that I visited the Todabashi store. A monolithic building with something like 9 floors of consumer goods. They sold every style of gadget imaginable. Floors and floors of electronics. And the camera section was just amazing. It was here, that after a few holiday Asahi beers, that I purchased a new lens. And it was a beauty! The Fujinon XF 50-140mm F2.8 WR premium zoom. This thing was big. It was weather resistant which was perfect for rainy Kyoto. And the constant F2.8 throughout the whole zoom range produced amazing sharp images in all levels of light. This made my travel kit a lot heavier but I was willing to suffer.
As with my previous days, I have included in my blog one of the emails I sent home to my family to keep them all up to date on my journey and experiences.
20 September 2016
What a busy 24 hours! Arrived in Kyoto yesterday afternoon via a fast train service called Thunderbird! And it was not even a bullet train. Crazy quick and crazy efficient. Melbourne should just outsource Metro to Japan. The journey was scenic with suburbs of squat housing packed tight followed by rice fields and canals.
Last night I walked a bit of Kyoto and tried some local cuisine of Yakitori. Various and mostly unrecognisable meat BBQ cooked in a special sauce. Not entirely pleasant when I discovered that the yummiest was chicken innards.
It has rained consistently since my arrival this morning. I went to a Buddhist temple and spent some time there soaking in the enormity of the complex and the ancient buildings. Then walked through back streets and tiny alleys to a shop that specializes in Washi paper. The stuff I use to make origami. Boogie will be pleased!
A quick nap and then a short walk to the local shopping mall. It is 80% underground and must cover a huge space under the streets. About to eat some yummy Ramen and Gyoza.
That’s all for now. Love to all.
That first full day in Kyoto was such an eye opener. I visited a temple complex that was just incredible. Awe inspiring design and architecture and so humbling to watch the locals just walk in on their way to work and pay homage. As I mentioned earlier, Kyoto was wet. It was raining pretty heavy all day. But the people of Japan just get on with it and take up their pearly white umbrellas and go about their business. They are a pretty resilient people. Earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear accidents….they regroup and start again.
By the end of the day the rain was starting to soak into my camera bag. Not great. And it is hard to take photos and hold an umbrella. So I retired to my hotel and watched the Sumo Wrestling on the television. For dinner, I walked to the Lawson Family convenience store on the corner. I picked up some obscure Japanese pre-packed foods. The convenience stores in Japan stock so much more than what they do here in Melbourne. It had been a long day. Time for some rest as I had an early start the next day. Happy shooting.