I managed to salvage a nice evening out tonight. I thought about going to Gion (the place with all the geisha), but I’m going to save that for when I return to Kyoto later in my trip. I have to return here to see everything I want to see.
First I stopped by the local conbini (convenience store) and bought an embarrassing clear vinyl raincoat to make up for the terrible umbrella I bought this morning. Between the two, I was almost dry.
Dinner at Kyoto Station
Instead of Gion, I went to Kyoto Station for dinner and some gawking.
It’s definitely worth checking out. It’s sort of inside and outside at the same time, and there’s a giant department store and a mall there, too. The department store is Isetan, and it has all kinds of stuff in it. (The mall is in the basement, and also has a lot of little stores.)
Japanese department stores are fun. They have things like Dolce & Gabana, Dior, Gucci, etc., then they have a grocery store in the sub-basement.
The real reason you want to eat at the station is the 11th floor. It’s a food court on steroids, with all kinds of different restaurants with all kinds of different things to eat.
So it’s time to climb the stairs:
Yeah, I took the escalator.
I hadn’t eaten all day, so I went to three different restaurants, each of which had something that looked delicious.
The first place had a really good chicken sandwich, with odd-looking Crunchy Things served on the side. (The Crunchy Things were good.)
The second restaurant had a really good little Margherita pizza (it was really little), and the third was Vie de France, where I picked up dessert and carried it back to the hotel.
The Kyoto TV tower is really pretty at night, but I decided not to go up to the observation deck. Here are a couple of shots I took of it:
This one is through the walls of the station:
And here’s a shot from outside:
I wandered around the station just a bit and took this photo as well:
I’m going to try to visit Ryoanji tomorrow if it’s not raining, but odds are it will be, so I’ll probably just head back to Okazaki. I’ll check out of here, then dump my backpack in a locker at the station and do some gawking, if the weather is even halfway decent.
My real arch-nemesis in Japan (besides the toilet paper that feels like 100 grit sandpaper) is the currency. Everything under 1000 yen (~$10) is in coins. As an American, I’m used to bills, even for trifling amounts of money.
So my goal every time I go out is to get rid of as many coins as possible, but every time I come back, I wind up with more coins than when I left.
The true scourge of my pockets is the 10 yen coin. It’s big, like a quarter, but only worth about 1/3rd of one. There are no 25 yen coins. Just 1, 5, 10 and 50.
Ticket and vending machines don’t take 1 and 5 yen coins. So they’re even more worthless than 10 yen coins.
Every time I get rid of n 10 yen coins, somewhere else I’ll wind up with n+1 more. (Assuming that n is the number of 10 yen coins I started with.) Oddly enough, I haven’t amassed too many 5 and 1 yen coins. Individual items seem like they’re priced so that the numbers come out round. Or maybe I’m just hallucinating.
What Does This Button Do-whoooa!
I finally tried pressing the button on the toilet today. Wow. That’s just funky, a little disturbing, but a whole lot better than the toilet paper there. Those of you who have done it know what I mean. Those who haven’t, well… there’s this button, and it has a picture of a butt on it, with a little jet of water aimed right at it. And if you push the button, it pretty much does what it says. It is pretty sanitary, if you think about it. It just feels ten kinds of weird. But the other choice is the toilet paper, so I’ll take a slightly damp butt anytime.
Speaking of butts, it looks like the Chunichi Dragons (the local Japanese Baseball League team in Nagoya) are kicking those of the Yomiuri Giants. Go Dragons!
I think the winner plays the Nippon Ham Fighters, who won the divisional playoffs last night. (I think they call it the Climax Series?)
I’m not really up on J-Baseball.
While I was taking a break this afternoon, I was able to watch some of the Boston-Cleveland game live from the States, which was kind of cool, but also felt kind of weird.