Happy Friday the 13th! Thanks to the new commentors on my last post, and especially to David, a long-time reader and Kyoto-related-advice-giver who’s going to be passing through here tonight and invited me to hang out for a bit. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet up before he continues on to the Kobe Matsuri, which I unfortunately won’t be able to attend.
But that’s OK because the Aoi Matsuri, one of Kyoto’s three biggest festivals of the year, is this Sunday!
Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time right now but I just wanted to throw up a quick update to let you all know that I am indeed NOT dead. The weather has been really spotty this week, and I’ve had a lot of homework, so I haven’t had quite as many opportunities to go out as during the previous week. Sunday, for instance, I spent preparing my speech for my Speaking and Listening class. I chose to do it on the time my friends and I were forced to sneak onto an overnight train from Madrid to Barcelona without the correct ticket. Dylan one-upped me…well, actually more like one THOUSAND-upped me…by telling of the time he accidentally rode his bike into the side of a yakuza’s car and 逃げた’ed. Unky Alex was the special guest star who played the part of the Yakuza. LET’S BEST FIGHTING!!
Still, I did manage to squeeze in two short excursions. The first, pictured here, was another “I think I’ll pick a random direction and ride my bike in it” day. YHM is sort of on the outskirts of Kyoto, so if I were to ride towards the North (a direction I haven’t yet explored), I’d already have a nice head-start. This picture was taken less than thirty minutes away from where I live.
I rode my bike “up” for as long as I could, but when the trail got too rough for my little mamachari I had to get off and push. Then I had to lower it down some craggy rocks. Then I had to take off my shoes and carry it across a stream. I wandered for two to three hours, and when I was satisfied that I’d gotten myself sufficiently lost I turned around and faced the direction that I believed to be “back.” Because of the rough terrain I’d passed, I decided that it would be better (and more interesting) to try to find a new way home rather than backtrack for two hours. I quite literally had no idea where I was, so I just walked until I eventually came to a main (and by that I mean paved) road. Yatta! It lead me right to a tunnel through the mountain that I’d just passed over! After riding through the pitch-dark bowels of the mountain for a full five (high-speed) minutes, I emerged to a panoramic view of Kyoto, with Kyoto Tower stuck right in the middle. Check it out below.
The other outing wasn’t as exciting or as long, but much more unexpected. On Wednesday, our shamisen class was canceled (:(), so I decided to pack up and see how many hours I could spend cramming vocab into my brain. As usual, I tried to take a completely unique route towards Starbuck’s. This time, while while riding through a small side street, I suddenly found myself in a huge cloud of sweet-smelling smoke. “This isn’t normal,” my instincts told me. I was right! What a genius.
Stopping to investigate, what I’d found was a tiny neighborhood shrine populated by ten to fifteen Buddhist priests and fifteen to twenty spectators. I’m not sure what they were celebrating exactly, but they had a huge (taller than they were) bonfire of sweet herbs, and were chanting, playing the drums, and blowing conch shells. I hung out for awhile, enjoyed the Zen, and continued on for some studyin’. Unfortunately my day wasn’t as productive as many, because I randomly bumped into three different people that I knew (separately) and spent most of the time just socializing. D’oh!
Here’s a completely unrelated picture that I really like of a dude out for a stroll under the sakura last month.
Oh yea! And the Doshisha cheerleaders came to the Rits campus to cheer against us and promote an upcoming baseball game.
Yeah, I guess you could say it’s been a fairly ordinary week here in Kyoto.
Stay tuned for the Aoi Matsuri!