Due to the positive feedback I’ve been getting on this new photo layout deal, I’m obviously going to stick with it – I’ve also decided to just start putting photos to the left of my little rants (like this), as I often won’t have a story for every single photo, even though I may really like a particular one.
Now onto the meat. The farther I progress with this kanji program, the harder it gets for me to keep up – but I’m (barely) hanging in there, at the moment I’m on number 833/2000, just 25 short of where I need to be to finish by my target date (yes, I DID make myself a schedule – when it’s this tight falling even a little behind would make my goal impossible to reach). Still, despite the difficulties I’m pretty pleased that I’ve actually managed to learn EIGHT HUNDRED kanji in two weeks. And better yet, the results are starting to show – last night I was able to fully understand a pregnancy warning on a can of beer. Useful stuff!
Even so, I can’t resist exploring the city, no matter how much harder it makes keeping up. The weather has been getting noticeably nicer lately – more sunny days, warmer nights, more temptations to go out and have fun. So, three days ago I decided to take another little excursion to an area called Arashiyama (this picture).
I started off as usual with no particular plan in mind…just riding in the general direction of the area. After roaming around several shrine-complexes on the way I reached my destination (although unfortunately by this time the clouds had returned). Arashiyama is an area in western Kyoto, apparently really touristy during Sakura season but because it’s still winter I seemed to be the only other gaijin there.
And you know, while the cold weather isn’t the best, I love the fact that all of the tourist spots are so opened. It really makes them feel like they aren’t tourist spots at all. Here’s a perfect example: a dude with a rickshaw (very touristy) but no one’s in it (not very touristy). It’ll be interesting to see what this city starts to feel like when the Sakura starts blossoming.
Kyoto City has two main rivers running through it – Kamo Gawa and Katsura Gawa – and Arashiyama is the area containing Katsura Gawa, which leads up into the surrounding hills. I rode my bike along side it for a bit, and while I didn’t go nearly as far as during my last excursion into the surrounding hills it was still very pleasant.
Turning around and following the river south led me to a huge stretch of farmland. But it wasn’t farmland like we think of in the US – only a bunch of tiny fields, each with a homeless-looking shack next to it and an old man or two tendin’ the soil. Definitely a different side of Japan than I’ve been seeing.
And this, my friends, was absolutely the scariest scarecrow I’ve ever seen!
And that’s about all I have to say…about that.
I actually have two more days of exploring and pictures under my belt since then, but as I really need to get back to studying (and this post ended up getting way longer than I’d intended) I’ll save it for another time 🙂