Kyoto, June 8
- First we went to Myoushin-ji, where we saw old buildings (temples and such) and a really nice Japanese garden. It rained on us a little! There was a bamboo pole in a pond in the garden, and if you put your ear to it, the trickling water sounded like music. I want one! Some middle school students interviewed us for their English class and had us write a message about world peace. (Weird!)
- Next, we went to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavillion. This is a building where the outside is covered with gold leaf! It overlooks a nice lake and was very pretty. We had lunch at a little cafe nearby (curry and noodles!).
- Heian-jingu, a Shinto shrine. The big attraction here was the gardens, which surrounded the shrine.
Kanazawa, June 9 and 10
- Took the train from Kyoto to Kanazawa. My first attempt at reserving train seats, and it worked okay except we got stuck in the smoking car!
- We arrived before check in time at the hotel, but they let us leave our bags there while we wandered around town. We had lunch at Mos Burger, which appears to be some sort of hippie hamburger joint. It was pretty tasty, but Ben says the hamburgers were way too small! We wandered by a park where a girl was practicing saxaphone and had a chocolate bar, then went back to the hotel and watched TV for the rest of the day.
- We watched this crazy show called "Oi, Nippon!" where these people go to different parts of Japan and a funny fat guy eats weird stuff, like sea urchins, fish that are still flopping (head first), squid, etc. After TV, we went to dinner at a little ramen shop, which was very good!
- Next day, we went to Kenrokuen gardens, which is one of the biggest landscaped gardens in Japan. It was very pretty, but I actually liked the little garden in Kyoto better (maybe because this big garden was full of tour groups being led around by people with megaphones!). We walked past Oyama Jinja, then went to the Omi-cho Ichiba, a big fish market! There were lots of strange sea creatures still moving! I took a picture for posterity.
- Dinner at the train station in a little cafe where I had "meat spaghetti" (kind of like chili on spaghetti) and Ben had pork cutlet curry.
Matsumoto, June 11 and 12
- The train ride from Kanazawa to Matsumoto was beautiful! We took one express train to the middle of nowhere, then got on a tiny single-car train that chugged its way up the mountains. This was my favorite part! The Japanese people on board were taking pictures out the windows too! We then transferred to another express train to Matsumoto.
- In Matsumoto we checked into the hotel, and it was raining again. We had dinner at Denny`s, hoping for some good home cooking, but it was surprisingly un-American (mostly Japanese food or Japan-ized versions of American food).
- The next day, we went to Matsumoto Castle. It was very pretty! This castle is very old (1500s) and is still largely standing and in good condition. We went in and up into the tower, where Ben hit his head in the stairway and we got some nice views. It also had a big moat! We went to a little park after that which had some nice waterfalls and ponds and hills and such. We saw some sort of festival going on inside a cultural center but couldn`t figure out what it was.
- Back at the station we hung around in a department store and looked at the Engrish on the clothing, then had dinner at a Nepalese buffet where the waiter talked a lot because he couldn`t speak Japanese and was glad to see people who spoke English. Unfortunately, we couldn`t understand half of what he was saying because of his thick accent.
More in next post!