May 032005

You know, every time I finish a post I’m already thinking about what I want to write next time. There are so many interesting things, from little cultural differences to wacky experiences, that don’t make it into my posts due simply to a lack of time. Yet before I get a chance to write about them, something else always unexpectedly comes up and prevents me from doing so. And so my list of “interesting things” builds and builds.

Yeah, life here is pretty tough.

So, Golden Week (a week of consecutive holidays) has finally arrived, and I’m lovin’ it. No class means that I have enough time to both study and go back to exploring Kyoto, a city where ten years wouldn’t be nearly long enough to unlock all of its secrets and treasures. I started on Friday, our first day off, with a climb to the peak of Daimonji, something I’ve been intending to do since I took that hike up into the surrounding hills three whole months ago. If you haven’t all figured this out by now, I love outdoors/physical activities, unfortunately they often conflict with my main reason for being here: to learn Japanese. But the day was once again gorgeous, so I packed up my gear – one Tupperware of broccoli, one of grilled chicken, one of rice, a bottle of water, my cameras, and 500 kanji flashcards – and I headed off.

Yet I was surprised to find that the hike itself was quite mild; no heart wrenching inclines, no rock faces, and no slippery trails. The clearing with the huge kanji was packed with around fifty Japanese climbers, from six years old to sixty, hanging out and enjoying the view. I took a quick breather and decided to press on. I couldn’t head back without really challenging myself, could I? So I continued to the peak. And when I got there, I found a sign indicating the next higher peak was only another kilometer away. Why not?

Suddenly, it had turned into exactly the type of hike I was looking for. After passing the first peak, I didn’t see another person for the entire two-hour climb – and descent – into the neighboring Shiga prefecture. That’s right, I once again hiked beyond the borders of Kyoto. But while I didn’t find any other Japanese people, I did find a rusty old abandoned shack partially concealed in the forest just off the trail. You know, the kind that’s featured in every single horror movie you’ve ever seen? Complete with its pile of empty beer bottles, bed made of old boards and tattered rags, and perfectly maintained mini-shrine. I guess it’s probably good that the “inhabitant” was out when I happened by.

Anyways, I went until I was satisfied that I wasn’t going to make it all the way to lake Biwako before dark, then I headed back. Vacation day #1: over.

Vacation days #2 and 3: Grammar study and Vocab study.
Vacation day #4: Class (Huh? Oh, I guess Ritsumeikan doesn’t believe in giving us Monday off like every other University in Japan. D’oh…)

Vacation evening #4: My first Ofuro here at I-house II. I’m telling you, they spoil us with this place! Ain’t nothin more relaxin’ than a hot Ofuro until 2:00 in the morning. Well, I guess it might have been a little more relaxing without [name hidden for privacy] waving his unmentionables about in a most disturbing fashion.

We’ll just write that one off to his bottle of wine, shall we?

Vacation day #5: The official opening of the Aoi Matsuri, the biggest festival of the year in Kyoto. Today’s event: horseback archery.

To be continued…

  One Response to “Golden Week 1: The Hike”

  1. I felt I was on the hike with you, thanks for sharing it. I’d love to take it someday. Us folk back home here are very proud of you and pleased you’re having a great time. Work hard play hard.

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