Kyoto 2016: Nishiki Market and End

February 28, 2016

After attending Mass at the Cathedral, I made my way back towards Kyoto Station. Along the way, I passed through Nishiki Market again. It was closed at the time I passed through it on my way to the Cathedral. Now, at about lunch time, the Market was bustling with people and store owners yelling across to attract customers.

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Hmm, Nishiki Market…The best way I can describe it is an open-air market with a roof above it. The Market comprises several blocks. It’s like walking into an Asian grocery store back home but far more diverse in oddities and delicacies with way more people browsing around.

I merely passed through taking glances at the offerings in each store. Nothing grossed me out or shocked me because, being Asian myself and having been to Asian markets before, I’ve seen some crazy things. While I didn’t stop by to actually buy and eat something,  I was just more wow’d at the variety of things you can find and the amount of people looking around at Nishiki Market, locals and tourists alike.

After Nishiki Market, I walked a long while back to Kyoto Station. I decided to walk the rest of the way to take in more sights. Sure, it would have been a lot faster if I took the subway. If I took the subway, I wouldn’t have seen random cats chillin’ like they own the place. Multiple times.

For more information on Nishiki Market, click here.

This second trip to Kyoto was pretty awesome! I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the various places that I was able to visit, even if it required a lot of walking, hiking up two low mountains, and not nearly enough vending machine drinks.

There are still many things to go see in Kyoto. I’m certain that I’ll have to make a return trip to Kyoto sometime in the future. 😀

-JD

 

Kyoto 2016: Kawaramachi Cathedral

February 28, 2016

After taking pictures of the cherry blossoms in the Imperial Palace Park, I made my way back to the cathedral. I think I had about fifteen minutes to spare, and I spent that time finding a pew and settling in while the choir practiced.

The 10:30 AM Mass is in Japanese. One thing I love about being Catholic is how that no matter where I am in the world, the Mass is the same. Sure, it may be in a different language or expressed differently, but the core of Mass is the same the world over. #CatholicPerks

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I wish I could speak more to the experience, but it really wasn’t that much different than previous Masses in Japanese that I’ve been to. I mean, I was pretty attentive to the homily even though I had no idea what the priest was talking about! I’m sure it was edifying and educational. As in previous Japanese Masses I’ve been to, the choir sounded beautifully awesome singing hymns in Japanese.

After Mass, I checked out the book/gift shop next door to the cathedral. When I walked in, I realized that wow–the Daughters of St. Paul must have exclusive rights to running cathedral bookstores in Japan or something because this is now the third cathedral that I’ve been to with a bookstore run by the Pauline sisters.

When I finished browsing the bookstore, I hunted around for a place to eat. I stopped at a chain Japanese fast food restaurant that I’m familiar with, and I ordered a hot pot-looking meal set that looked tasty. And it was!

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Burned my mouth a little because I didn’t wait for the noodles to cool off in the separate bowl, but it was worth it.

After the cathedral and lunch, I decided that it was time to say goodbye to Kyoto and slowly make my way back to the bullet train station.

-JD

New diocese discovered! ==Roman Catholic Diocese of Kyoto==

Kyoto 2016: Imperial Palace Park

Date of Travel: February 28, 2016

I checked out of First Cabin decently early in the morning. My main goal was to go seek out the Kawaramachi Catholic Cathedral. It’s the seat of the Diocese of Kyoto. I wanted to hit up the 10:30AM Mass in Japanese.

Well, I found it. But I had quite a while before Mass started so I decided to kill time and walk around some more. Pulling out Google Maps on my phone, I saw that Kyoto’s Imperial Palace was several blocks away surrounded by a park. I headed off that direction.

But first, I ran into City Hall.

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I continued northwards and eventually reached the Park. I entered in and was entirely amazed at how vast the park seemed. Besides getting distracted by a Japanese woman in the distance walking her dressed up poodles (and subsequently, the poodles going to the bathroom…), I couldn’t get over how incredibly wide the paths are. The pictures below probably doesn’t do much justice, but practically all the main paths through this park seemed to be wide and lengthy.

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I walked towards the Imperial Palace, but I guess it has certain hours because it didn’t look open for a gaijin like me to just mosey on in to see what’s up. By the way, it was a long walk because the palace sits pretty far in the park from where I entered.

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A few things I learned about this park, through various signs posted and observations I made:

  • Military activity was pretty high back in the day, and many locations scattered throughout the park are designated as places of significance such as “This one guy stood posted here with a lamp all night” or something like that.
  • There are over 50,000 trees in this park. In other words, there are almost as many trees in this park as there are students at Texas A&M University. Wow.
  • Great place to write poetry. I’m pretty sure I saw an elderly gentleman doing just that.
  • Great place to practice baseball. Apparently there are baseball fields also on site.
  • Why yes there is, in fact, a cherry blossom grove.

On my way back out, I noticed a small crowd gathered in a particular area of the park. I realized that it was because of the grove of cherry blossom trees that are in full bloom. I guess they peak in early March in Kyoto, but it was neat to see a good handful of them in this park. But of course I had to take pictures!

I had a blast trying to take cool pictures. Of course, I actually had to “wait in line” for some trees because some other tourists were attempting to do the same.

After sneaking in some more pictures, I made the long trek back out of the park and made my way back to the Cathedral.

To be continued.

-JD

 

Kyoto 2016: First Cabin

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Date of Travel: February 27, 2016

When I was planning this visit to Kyoto, I knew that I wanted to stay one night in Kyoto. Unfortunately, it was kind of a struggle to find somewhere cheap. Several Japan trips ago, I tried one of those “capsule hotels” for the first time. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic. It was super cheap! Like $33 for one night! I was hoping for the same in Kyoto.

I did some extensive Googlin’ to find similar places in Kyoto and came up with a list to check out. I used agoda.com to search those places and eventually book something that was reasonable and available.

I ended up with First Cabin. It’s a little bit more of an upscale capsule hotel that strives to go for that business/first class airline feel. I wasn’t able to nab a First Class “cabin”, and I ended up with one of the last few Business Class ones that were available on Agoda.

A brief tour:

What I liked about it:

  • Way more head room–easily double the size, vertically, than what you’d fine in a normal capsule hotel
  • TV had more channels, though I didn’t really watch
  • Fresh towels to use their “shower booths” and bathrooms as well as loungewear to wear around
  • A place to hang my clothes
  • Very clean
  • Didn’t hear my neighbors

I slept pretty soundly because I was really tired from hiking up two low mountains and walking around Kyoto and Arashiyama.

For more information about First Cabin, visit the website here.

After waking up in the morning, I grabbed a shower booth, got dressed, checked out, and headed out for another day of adventuring in Kyoto!

To be continued.

-JD

Kyoto 2016: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Date of Travel: February 27, 2016

After visiting Monkey Park, I headed back towards the main drag through Arashiyama. The streets were a little more crowded because it was later in the afternoon. When I crossed the scenic bridge again, I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye two Japanese women dressed as geishas.

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I saw other Japanese ask for pictures with them, and a part of nearly did the same but my sore lacking in conversational Japanese made me think twice. In my hesitation, they ended up across the street on my side where I was walking, and even passed me.

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Now, this is Kyoto. I’ve read multiple times that the likelihood of seeing a geisha is highest in Kyoto. Truly, I didn’t think I’d see any this trip since Arashiyama is far, far away from the Gion District where it’s the most likely to see them.

I was attempting to walk towards the Bamboo Grove, but for some reason they were also headed in the same direction that I needed to go. I didn’t want to make it seem like I was the weird foreigner/tourist following them so I stayed back at least ten steps. They eventually made a turn somewhere just before one of the entrances to the Grove.

I entered at one of the edges of the Grove. However, I was not really convinced that it was a grove. It evoked more of a forest feel rather than a mere grove.

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So. Tall.

I wasn’t sure if there was any prescribed path as there seemed to have been multiple paths in the “forest” so I just followed where most of the crowd was walking. I eventually came to a fork and randomly this steel drum-playing guy was jammin’ passionately among the bamboo stalks.

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I took brief break to sit down on a rock while listening. Then I proceeded to keep walking, and I ended up on some other edge of the “forest”. Then I somehow ended up in a neighborhood. Then out of nowhere, I was at a train station. I fortunately found my way back to where I entered the “forest”.

Some more pictures:

There is no cost associated with the Bamboo Grove. It’s decently close to Arashiyama Station and Monkey Park. One thing I noticed, in particular, is how you can pay for a Japanese guy to run you around in a carriage through the Grove. Carriage-wielding guys seem to be a thing in Arashiyama, in general. Not sure how much it costs.

By the time I got done walking through the Bamboo Grove, the sun was setting. I decided to grab food along the same street with the scenic bridge. I found a place that specialized in “things on rice”. I ordered some beef on rice set (with miso soup), and it was delicious. I was pretty hungry having walked around a lot.

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After dinner, I slowly walked back to the subway station taking in the sun setting in Arashiyama.

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To be continued.

-JD