We left for Kyoto Monday October 10. Getting to Kyoto took some help from people in the train stations – hopefully we’ll do better on the way back. If you stop and even look like a tourist that’s lost people will come up to you and demand to help you, even if they don’t speak your language – its pretty amazing. All we did was walk around near the hotel – seems like most of the good shopping is within about a 10 minute walk of our hotel. The room is small and the breakfast was okay (cheaper by far than in Tokyo).

We stayed in the Royal Park Hotel – The Kyoto – nice hotel, very clean rooms (of course, this is Japan after all), the rooms are a little small and there was only one English language TV channel. I put on BBC World News (only English channel on the TV in the Kyoto hotel) and suddenly we started to get Japanese voice-over – turns out there’s a bilingual feature in the TV which we accidentally turned on since the remote was in Japanese.

We’re spending a lot of time shopping in Kyoto – we are less than a block from this huge complex of covered shopping streets.

We did the geisha walk with Peter MacIntosh – very cool, we learned a lot. Geisha are actually entertainers, not prostitutes. They typically specialize in music or dance. They are not allowed to marry – our tour guide married a geisha and she had to retire. There are lots of women walking around in kimono – they are not geisha, there is a thriving kimono rental business in Kyoto. You can tell by the hair (for younger geisha} and the makeup (if its getting near 6P).

The Kyoto National Museum was closed for a full museum restoration, so we had to content ourselves with the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art (which are across the street from each other). Both museums were worth visiting.

Aviva’s foot started hurting – we looked for a cane at a shop and they were very expensive so she decided we’d just do our best.

We visited the temple of 1000 Buddhas – it’s amazing, there are large statues of the key deities of Japanese Buddhism in front and behind them 1000 standing Buddhas.

I bought a shamisen at a local music store Koizumi (this was my big gift for myself) – this is what Morticia played on the Addams Family; it’s tuned to C – F – C and I’ll post a pic when the instrument arrives, I had it shipped (we were already worried about how we’d back everything we bought – this shop sells internationally).

We’re not what we once were. We decided to go back to Tokyo Friday so we’d have more time for trains and transfers to get home instead of trying to negotiate the train from Kyoto to Tokyo Station, the subway to Shinjuku Station (the busiest train station in Japan), the shuttle back to the Hyatt and then the limo to the airport all in one day. So we went to the train station to change our tickets (easy, the people at the JR counter in Kyoto speak English and Chinese and as usual were super-helpful) and had a nice lunch at the fabulous hotel attached to the train terminal (name/link?). Then we went to the largest mall I’ve ever been inside – multiple city blocks and at least 8 stories of shopping. We went to the Pokémon Center on the 6th floor and got the two plushies Nathan wanted. Then we shopped around. We decided not to go to the Imperial Palace – Aviva’s foot was hurting and it looked like a lot of walking (most temples and shrines are in the middle of a large complex so plan to walk). So we strolled back to the hotel, packed and rested, then shopped a little in the large arcade by the hotel. A guy convinced us to try his restaurant, however, it was all pork, so he took us around to corner to a friend’s place in a basement with yakatori. It was really good!


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