Date: Fri, 29 May 1998

Day 8 - Woke up at 6:30 with a train announcement. Kept attempting to go back to sleep, but it took me long enough to get to sleep in the first place. I tossed and turned for an hour, then got up. Discovered the showers only work at night, and when Kel gets up, she's not gonna be happy. That girl can sleep forever; she went to sleep at 7:45 last night, and it's currently 8:30 and she's still out cold. Not that this is anything new. :) I'll let her sleep until at least 9. I keep trying to get these updates out in time for work, but we never seem to be near a phone then.

Currently on a train, so no data jack on the phone. Best times to check for updates are 10am and 7pm your time. We should get to Ueno in time to hitch a ride on the 11:07 shinkansen to Kyoto, getting us there by 1:30. By the way, all that gozen (am) gogo (pm) crap they teach you in class is useless. They go on military time here. My host dad thought we were getting to Sapporo at 6am because I only said 'rokuji' (6 o'clock). He then said 'jyuuhachiji' (18 o'clock) was correct. Ah, Kel just woke up. 8:40. She didnt care about the shower. But she looks rested. :) More later.

I had another conversation with the lady on the train. She gave us these little cakes and cookies, which made us feel bad because we had nothing to give her. I showed her our trip and talked about the US, our families, Japanese vs. American food, etc. She lived near Oomiya, the stop before ours, where she got off. We got off in Ueno, the final stop.

Well, here we are on the train to Kyoto. Absolutely no problems getting on this one; we had to get tickets in Ueno, then grab the Yamanote-sen to Tokyo station. We still got there with 30 minutes to spare. Thank the Japanese for a really efficient rail system! The weather outside is kind of nasty. It's foggy and rainy, but it makes the wooded hills that much cooler looking. The speed of the shinkansen between stops is about 120mph, best I can determine. Looks really cool in the camcorder with high shutter speed. This trip is still scenic, although not nearly so much as Hokkaido was. We took naps, but we're slept out. Only 15 more minutes to Kyoto. --M

Day 8, Part Two

Muahahaha, I finally get to write first! But I can't think of anything. I'm tired of trains. And it rained today. And I'm homesick, but "Desperado" was on today in English so I feel better. And we talked to a really nice lady on the train who gave us food. Heard about Phil Hartman today. :( Makes me sad.

Okay, so I can't think of as much stuff as Marc. So I'll let him write now. --- Kelly

We got off the train in Kyoto, and headed down the street to the ryokan, which was relatively close to the station. Kel was happy because we have our own private bathroom. I also did some laundry, thank goodness. We headed out and walked into the subway mall where he got pasta to appease Kel again. We wandered out of the underground and walked for what seemed like forever We ran into Nishi-Hyogangi temple, which was huge, but not really that interesting. We walked again forever, and past Higashi-Hyogangi, the sister temple which is bigger still. We walked into a depaato, skipping Kyoto Tower, and then headed back to the ryokan. Traveling will make you tired like that. We grabbed some food along the way to eat in the ryokan then settled in for a niglt of TV. We're tust too tired and the weather's too crappy for anything else. :/ Tomorrow we have a lot planned, though. Sad to hear about Phil Hartman. He was cool, and one of my idols as far as voice acting and comedy go. :( Oh, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! HAPPY GRADUATIONS JAY AND LIZZIE!!! --M

Date: Sun, 31 May 1998

Day 9-Kyoto.

We got up in the morning and were out the door by 9:30. We got breakfast at one of the subway shops, then boarded a bus for Kiomizudera Temple using an all day bus pass. It's a long way up the hill to the temple and when we got to the shops below the temple, WHOA. Tons of people, mostly grade school students. We walked into the temple, which is probably my favorite in Japan. It's situated in the hills in east Kyoto, so it's split into many levels. The view is fantastic, and the moss-covered stone staircases are surrounded by trees and wooden structures. But boy is it a people magnet on a weekend. We passed on the 200 person line for the Water of Wisdom, which I drank last time anyway. :) We headed back down the hill on the same path as the last time I was here, but wandered to Maruyama Park. Very serene, despite the numerous ice cream vendors.

We forged on past temple after temple (the guide book says there are 1700) and ran smack into Heian Jingu Shrine. Shrines are Shinto, by the way, temples are Buddhist. Just as I remembered; very large and orange. I'm not a big fan of shrines. We headed out and around the corner to the Kyoto Municipal Zoo. Zoos have their purpose, but this one makes you feel very sorry for the animals. They don't have a lot of room. There was one ostrich who didn't seem to like me much.

We left there and walked back to the bus stop. After we returned to the subway mall and after finding out there's no kaiten zushi anywhere in Kyoto, we had lunch in a little cafe. When paying, the guy would only speak in his forced english, despite my attempts to let him know I spoke Japanese. He also informed me after he took my credit card that he would be connecting to the card company to complete the transaction. So THAT'S what they've been doing all this time! :) We returned to the ryokan for a little nap. Kel's found these crackers she loves. She went through a whole bag (about 40 2-inch crackers) after we got back and even broke into a second bag. We watched the end of the Munsters movie. A little later we're going out to check out the Kyoto nightlife. -- M

We had sushi and went to a bar. Aren't we the swingers. :) -- K

Day 9 part two.

This is an update to the previous email; Kel's little bit was because we forgot to write the rest of yesterday.

We left the ryokan sans stuff and headed down the way to the subway. We rode up three stops, walked east for a while, and had dinner at Musashi, a kaiten zushi place in the entertainment area of Kyoto. Filled up both of us for $17.70! Cheap! We then headed across the river and up the road the wrong direction. After realizing my mistake, we turned around and headed to the Pig and Whistle Pub, a popular gaijin hangout. I had a half pint of generic beer for 450. Kel was bored so I chugged the beer and we headed back into the entertainment area, then back on to the subway. We got back to the ryokan at 10 pm, the latest since we got here. -- M

Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998

Day ten - Kyoto.

We got up with a very specific itinerary, and by golly we did just fine. No breakfast. We headed to the bus stop and I bought Kel a new bus pass (I didn't swipe mine yesterday, so I didn't have to get a new one) and we took the long bus ride to Kinkakuji Temple. The star attraction of this temple is Rokuonji, a small temple set in the middle of a lake covered in gold leaf so it's very picturesque. We were accosted by four schoolgirls who had us sign our autographs and took our picture. :)

There's also a gorgeous garden. We took the bus to Ryoanji Temple, famous for its rock garden. Very mu (the zen concept of nothingness). We had noodles for lunch at the temple, then headed to Nijo-jo Castle.

This was built by Ieyasu Tokugawa as his home in Kyoto. It's cool because the floor squeaks to warn of intruders, and Bianca sez because the women were very jealous and this stopped them from killing eachother in their sleep. We had some green tea ice cream, then headed to the mall for some light window shopping. We bought more crackers and we went back to the ryokan and watched ST:Generations-boy was Kel happy about that. We got food across the street and got to bed at a reasonable hour for the train to Himeji-jo and Hiroshima early in the morning. --M

:: Beginning : Tokyo : Matsushima : Hakodate : Sapporo : Kyoto : Hiroshima : Beppu : Shikoku : Tokyo : The End : Travel Notes ::

Marc Hernandez :: Kelly Bickford