In Japan - Kyoto
Ever since my last trip to Japan, I always wanted to visit what one call one of the best preserved cities in Japan - Kyoto.
On New Years Eve, I finally got the chance to get there with some help from Vivo san, a friend I met last January.
We met him around 9:30 a.m. at Kyoto Station which is about a 25 minute train ride from Shin-Osaka station by JR Shinkansen line.
I wasn't feel that great in the morning because of my own mistake. One thing I've learned about different cultures is that no matter how much you hate something, you must act like you like it (or at the very least try it) because you do not want to offend them.
Well, I thought cracking a raw egg with soy sauce into a extremely hot bowl of rice for breakfast would be a good idea. That was until I realized the egg doesn't really cook in the rice as I expected. I could only take a couple bites and knew it would give me a rough morning.
Anyways, that didn't last long once I got walking around and some more food in my stomach. Especially after slurping up some zenzai or a sweet red bean soup with rice dumplings.
Throughout the day, Vivo san helped guide us around Kyoto so we could see a bunch of temples and shrines, including: the Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji (also known as the golden pavilion) and Ryōan-ji, which is famous for its rock garden.
As we trekked around Kyoto by bus, taxi and tiny, one-car trains I realized we couldn't have done this all without a fixer/translator/friend. I am so glad we got to have his company, too. We'll meet up with him one more time before we head back home.
Of all the things we saw, seeing a young geisha in training and the golden pavilion were the most impressive.
While the photo of the young geisha is straight forward, it's just an icon of Japan that I could not pass up asking her to stand for a portrait.
To close the night, we had some sushi (believe it or not, only the second time I've had it here) in Kyoto Station before coming back to the hotel to pass out. I didn't even get to see any sort of celebrations because I was sleeping by 9 p.m.
Thursday I'll be in Osaka alone, with hopefully something to do. Since it's now 2009, a lot of things are closed, especially the first day of the year.
Happy New Year to all those in the United States!