I’ve just been to Japan. How do I know? I feel slightly dizzy from all the reciprocal bowing I’ve been doing all week, especially because we were in Kyoto, the politest of the polite in Japan. It really makes one feel special to go to McDonald’s and receive a bow after paying for your order and yet another bow after receiving your food, which is wrapped with origami-precise folds.
Polite they are, but also very French in a way–there was very little English spoken or written in Kyoto. We were defeated in our efforts to use the subway because the ticket machines were entirely in Japanese and no amount of button pressing produced anything that looked like ticket purchasing. Same problem with the ATM machines, although we did eventually find some of those later in the week at the 7/11 stores. That was important because so many stores and restaurants don’t take credit cards!
However, even though there was so little English spoken, people would go out of their way to help you, especially the taxi drivers. Repeatedly they would go above and beyond to search for the places we were trying to find. They really took care of us.
We arrived Sunday night at the Village Kyoto, our hotel, having spent a majority of the cash we had exchanged on our train tickets, because the train ticket machine wouldn’t accept our credit card.
Next we had to find dinner. Just like Corning, many restaurants were closed on Sunday night, but we did manage to find a place close by that had pictures so we could pick out our food.
We seemed to get a lot of fish, either raw, or cooked, or ground up in different, wet, moist ways and served with unrecognizable pickley things. And rice of course, always cooked to perfection.
Our main goal of the day was to obtain money because we were about down to our last yen after also having to pay for dinner with cash. We were unsuccessful in getting on to the subway, so we knew it was going to be taxis all week. We kept seeing ATM machines but, again, they were only in Japanese. In our wanderings we happened upon this market:
After finding a bookstore and buying some guidebooks, we found, buried deep within one of them the addresses of a couple of English ATM’s. Once we had cash in hand we were much relieved.
Kyoto has 2400 temples and I don’t know how many Shintu shrines (it’s a lot). Altogether, it’s more than all the 7-11’s which are on every block, or sometimes twice on a block. We did not attempt to visit them all, much to Meredith’s relief, and it turned out that the 2 to 3 day advanced reservation the guidebooks talk about for some of the most popular gardens and temples is actually 3 months! That still left about 2395 available for our perusal.
I’ll continue with the rest of the trip in another installment, to give me time to do laundry and feed the family. More to come…