So we’d had enough of the whole Japanese tatami mat thing and decided to move over to the ANA International Hotel. This was the most unassuming hotel I’d ever seen on its approach. From the street, there was just a small sign and an arrow pointing down a long walkway and then a dark covered entrance like you’d see in the basement of a parking garage. But once you stepped inside you saw this:
We first ventured out to Gallery of Kyoto Traditional Arts and Crafts which turned out to mostly just be a place to buy things. But there were a few fun things to look at:
Young girls love these rides because the rickshaw drivers are always young and handsome.
This was on the way to see the monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park on Iwatayama Mountain. There are 130 Japanese snow monkeys at the park, each with a name and known birth date. There was a woman who was actively doing research the day we were there.
It was a very long climb to the top of the mountain and at one we point we were encouraged in our efforts by reading this:
The brochure we were given gave us strict instructions for rules of behavior with the monkeys:
Don’t stare at the monkeys in the eye.
Don’t touch the monkeys.
Don’t feed them outside.
Don’t take a picture on the way.
Really don’t know what that last one meant–everyone was taking pictures.
We had no idea we were going to be inches away from the monkeys when we got to the top, or that we would have this view of Kyoto:
We then walked into the town nearby and visited another garden and temple who’s name escapes me but was very beautiful.
That night we decided to go to a French restaurant. We had picked out one that was supposed to be a kind of “hidden treasure” in Kyoto–excellent but not crazy expensive. We had the hotel call for a reservation, but the phone didn’t seem to be working. We were afraid the place might have gone out of business, but we decided to take a risk, and so we set off in a taxi toward the address.
We got to the approximate street corner where it should have been and Mark hopped out and started walking up and down the streets trying to find it while Meredith and I waited in the car.
This confused the taxi driver to no end. He was already a bit confused, not having been sure exactly where the address was, which isn’t uncommon in Asia, and Japan especially. When Mark returned from his fruitless search, we were able to communicate to the driver the actual name of the restaurant we were looking for. At that point he made a phone call to someone and found out exactly where it was and drove us to it (just down the block).
Sadly, the restaurant was dark. But then the taxi driver jumped out of the car and ran across the street into another establishment! Our turn to be bewildered! He came back a few minutes later and confirmed that yes, they have gone out of business; we figure probably just a couple weeks ago, having seen reviews a month ago on the web. But talk about going the extra mile! And most of this transaction was done with only a couple of words of English and a lot of gesturing.
So we went back to the hotel’s French restaurant and became their only customer that night.
Next Post: Geisha girls
I’ve added another blog on the right that you may be interested to read. It is by a new friend of mine, Xin, a first generation Chinese immigrant who has been living in Ithaca for about 20 years, who is now living in Taipei. She has, I think, a unique perspective on living in Asia.