Culture shock

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Woke up in Osaka, caught an early couple of trains to Kyoto, put my bags in a locker (they both fit into one of the 400 yen lockers, yay!) and spent a few hours wandering around. This time in Kyoto was a better experience. As I wandered up to kiyomizu, the shops weren’t even open yet. The temple itself was mostly covered up (renovations I guess) but the other buildings were nice. I went into one that was pretty freaky. Basically, you had to take your shoes off, then you went down to the basement. There, it was “very dark” indeed, as I’d been warned. Holding onto a hand rail of beads, I couldn’t see a thing. I wasn’t sure how high the ceiling was, so I was holding one hand out in front of my head, and I was pretty uneasy. Nobody else was down there. What had I gotten myself into?

Then, I heard a group of high school kids coming, so I waited for them (and I think scared them, since they didn’t know I was down there). I wasn’t in the pitch dark part of it. Anyway, I went in after them. Their shrieks and laughing lightened the mood significantly. In retrospect, I probably should’ve gone in on my own, as that was supposed to be the experience, but oh well. Anyway, we eventually followed the railing around to a place where a light was shining onto a stone. You were supposed to make a wish while spinning the stone or something.

After I was done at kiyomizu, I went in search of a teahouse that was in my guidebook. Eventually found it and had some macha with really weird mochi stuff. It was glorpy and served with one pointy chopstick for stabbing it. I didn’t really care for the tea or the not very sweet sweet, but now I can check that off the list! It wasn’t an actual tea ceremony, but I didn’t really have 2 hours to spend on one, anyway.

Back to Kyoto station, grabbed some ramen, and got on the bullet train to Nagoya, then transferred to a slower train to Nagano, and from there to a slower train yet to yudanaka.

Yudanaka and my lodging is quite the culture shock from Osaka. It’s a pretty small town, and my room is in the traditional Japanese style — tatami floors, futon on the floor, table about a foot off the ground, etc. It’s not a nonsmoking room, but it doesn’t smell.

The proprietor is an interesting character. When I got in, he started telling me what I would be doing. Breakfast at 8am, then he’d take guests up to monkey park at 8:30, then we should take the train to another town for lunch, then to some hot springs by 5pm to catch the sunset. Sounds like a plan, he was just rather regimented about it. He wanted me to check out their bath before dinner, tonight, but I opted to wait. No point in getting warm only to then go freeze again!

For dinner, I went to the only open restaurant I saw between the train station and the hotel. I’d actually peeked in on my way up, wondering if it was the hotel. At dinnertime, it was full. Pretty much all older men, most of them smoking cigarettes right next to me. And I think I ate nemo, tempuraed. Whatever it was, was smaller than the shrimp and had a tail.

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