I wasn’t able to use the keyboard very well on the computers where I stayed, so I wrote what happened during my Japan trip in a journal. I’m going to type out what I wrote in my journal for each day.
This has been a very tiring day, though for some their day would just be beginning (but I do think that many things close earlier in Kyoto than elsewhere in Japan, since it’s more traditional).
I somehow overslept this morning, my alarm being originally set for 5:00 am, which would have allowed me to get on the first subway at 5:30 heading for the airport. Instead, I woke up at 6:45 😦 I think I did the same thing I did last Sunday where the alarm didn’t go off because I pushed the snooze button as I was setting the alarm. I’m about finished with that alarm clock. I made it to the airport by cab. That was about $35 dollars I could have saved. Somehow I got there on time, though I do wish I could have exchanged my money in Korea for a better rate. (The exchange rate for Korean won when you get to Japan is outrageously low).
Next, I set off without much difficulty. Arriving at Osaka Kansai Airport, I went through a fairly standard customs procedure. It does get me to thinking, why can’t the US go back to our less tight security? I decided to get the one-day JR pass in order to get to Kyoto quickly and comfortably. If I go to Japan again, I will save up and get a regional rail pass that will allow me to travel all through the country so I can see things I couldn’t see this time. I napped on the ride to Kyoto due to a severe lack of sleep. Upon arriving, I found my Ryokan (Matusbaya Ryokan) without too much difficulty and left my stuff there. The room is small by western standards, and features straw mats covering the floor. My bedding consists of a mat and some bedding. There is a small TV and an A/C that effectively cools my little room. An electric tea kettle comes with the room, along with some tea and cups. There is also a robe that I will wear as my pajamas. My meal at the station was a basic croissant sandwich and small iced green tea, and that cost around 8 dollars. Things in Japan are pricier than the states, and smaller too. I then went to Kyoto Tower. It was pretty nice, and I greatly enjoyed the views. After that I got a similarly priced dinner (ouch) and got some snacks from a Lawson store.
When I got back to my Ryokan I was pooped. The man behind the counter told me that there was a “light festival” going on later in the evening, so I decided I would go see what it was all about. Held at Nijo castle and another street several blocks out, the one at Nijo castle was the one he thought was better. I went to Kyoto station and then there someone helped me find out where to go. He says bus 206 is the one I need to take. He was a nice guy, in town to visit his grandmother. From Japan, he went to a college in northwest Oklahoma for 4 years. I don’t remember if he knew of Tennessee or not. I found my way to the lights show, and it was nice enough, worth the trek out. In order to wear the cool pajamas that came with my room, I asked the woman behind the front desk to help me tie it. She went above and beyond, tying the (sash?) in a nice bow in the back.