Hello from EMD in Kyoto!

Mar 21st, 2005, 01:44 AM
  #1  
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Hello from EMD in Kyoto!

Hi everyone! Its me, emd, in Kyoto. Boy is it hard to use this japanese keyboard. I am at the Westin Miyako. Amazing trip so far, thanks to you all. We loved Tokyo. 6 days was not enough there. Strolled many of the neighborhoods (this drives my son nuts when I call them neighborhoods, he says they are districts). Westin Tokyo in Ebisu is the best hotel I have ever stayed in. Senjosi blew us away on day 1. Ghibli was just incredible. Do not miss it if you have any interest in animation film history. Tokyo Dome for Hanshin Tigers vs. Giants was just amazing. We bought noise makers and banged our bats with the best of them (and I got one of those Tigers short robe/jacket things, I was really into it). Giants won, but not without a fight to the finish from the Tigers. Tokyo Tower, on and on. And 250 high school graduating girls in the hotel w/kimonos on (I think my son is in love w/japanese women). More on all of this later....
Ok, so then we come to Kyoto on Sat. and when we get there it is Illumination festival time. I knew about this but did not realize it was such a big deal. So we stroll the Higashiyama area first evening and there are geishas being drawn by rickshaws. And in the park there are illuminated big original sculptures created by local artists. And in front of each Temple there are big ikebana (sp?) in huge pots (like 8 ft tall), and the temples are all illuminated, from Shonen-in down to Kiyomisodera. All kinds of processions through the streets of Gion and Hirishiyama going along w/this festival. It ends tonight, and I may have to go out again to walk over there and get into it.
The more quiet and contemplative side of that area was apparent early Sun. a.m. when I went to Shoren-in just as it opened and was alone there for almost an hour w/the huge camphor trees and the bell. This made a very big impression on me.
Toji market (21st of every month) is the best market I have been to in the world. We went to that today and enjoyed it so much (and the yen were flying from my pocket). Save your yen for this one. Very good buys.
I have enough that we have missed so far to fill an entire 2nd trip.
Florence, I have thoguht of you so many times while I have been here. I understand completely why you spend so much time in Kyoto. I am seriously thinking of renting a place here for a month in the future.
So now we have 5 days left. Osaka for Koshien High school tournament in morning, sumo in afternoon, and evening Hanshin Tiger vs. Buffaloes at Osaka Dome (all in one day- thanks to mrwunrfl); Nara; Hiroshima (and Miyajima if we are ambitious); and a half day in Ohara and other half hiking Kibune/Kurama. And if possible Nijo.
Hai. We have made several friends here. My son has tried out his Japanese (6 months in school so far). I am learning to bow, how far to bow in particular situations. I love the polite and civilized nature of the Japanese. And hopefully it is rubbing off on my son. He is a wonderful traveling companion, and he seems to be ok w/mom too. That is the best surprise of the trip for both of us.
Trip report in early April after I return. Now that I have found the computer in the library at the Westin, I may be able to check back in again. And guess what- we had absolutely so jet lag at all. None, zilch.
I really do not think I would have done an independent trip like this without you all.
emd1 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 05:17 AM
  #2  
 
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I'm happy to hear you're having such a great trip!
Mealea is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 05:20 AM
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Mealea! Hai! Kibune/Kurama and Ohara are on the plan for later this week. I can see the general area of both of them as I have breakfast each morning in the club at the Miyako. The hills are so beautiful. Can not wait to get out and hike and explore there.@
emd1 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 06:48 AM
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Bonjour emd,

Glad to read you're having such a good time. If you loved Toji's market, try Kitano on the 24th. You can get a great meal in the small noodle restaurant on the right of the sanctuary.

Last time we got there, my mom and I ended up giving the recipe for "sauce gribiche" to a party of Americans from DC who had asked me my advice on their purchases ...
Florence is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 06:49 AM
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Aaaargh, Kitano Tenmangu's market is on the 25th, not 24 !
Florence is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 07:02 AM
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emd; i've been thinking how you are doing. gald to hear all is well.
kuranosuke is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 07:49 AM
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hi emd! Glad to hear you are having so much fun. Your son is very lucky.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 08:38 AM
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How is the weather there? Has it been pretty cold in the evenings?
alan64 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 10:00 AM
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looks like a wonderful trip
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 02:49 PM
  #10  
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I have been getting by w/a good Columbia fleece zip top on most days, over a long sleeved shirt. Some nights I have worn thin silk long underwear and a jacket that has fleece lining- but I honestly think I could have gotten by without bringing the jacket. It has been drizzly two days, hazy a few, and bright sun and warmer 3 days. Have nopt used an umbrella yet.
Florence, we were alredya thinking of that market on 25th. You will laugh at this- in spite of the fact that I was going to pack light, at the last minute I grabbed an empty 21 inch rolling suitacse and brought it along. It is full now.
And I am the lucky one....
emd1 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 05:48 PM
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Sounds like a great trip!
Kathie is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 08:59 PM
  #12  
cwn
 
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Hi,

Enjoyed your post. Am looking forward to the rest-especially any thing on Hiroshima, Nara, and Himeji. We leave April 16th for Japan.

We love markets and are planning to go to the Toji Market also on the 21st of April. What time did you get there? I have read it is a large market - any area especially good? How long did you stay? I am taking lots of Yen!

The lighted temples sound really nice in Kyoto. I read somewhere that Kiyomisodera is in the evening in April. Was the temple light display for the festival only or will it continue into April?

Looking forward to hearing about more special experiences. Where are you eating in Kyoto. I love tempura, any recomendations on good places?
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Mar 21st, 2005, 11:56 PM
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Happy to know you are having a great time in Japan.

Re.the illumination festival in Kyoto, lucky you ! because I was there 6-9 and 10-11 this month (9-10, I was in Miyajima). The Hana-toro (illum.festival) was starting on the 11th. Still I saw some illuminated bamboo forest by the Nene's Path between Kiyomizu and Maruyama Park.

How are you enjoying food there? No problem?
kappa is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2005, 12:31 AM
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Bonjour emd,

Laughing at you about bringing an empty suitcase would be a case of the kettle calling the pot black. I am the proud owner of at least 4 rolling suitcases I had to buy after my second fleamarket in Kyoto, despite sending some of my purchase by mail ...
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Mar 22nd, 2005, 12:45 AM
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Cwn,

Re. Toji market: there are two main ways.

First you walk along the South side of the station (the Shinkansen side), until you get to a crossing. On your right, it goes under the railtracks.

You can go straight ahead (follow the crowd) and it's 10 min on foot on your left. That entry is lined with antiques and second-hand stuff (kimonos, small furniture, various knick-knack). I found some good things there, like old rubber stamps, musical instrumentts, etc. There is also food and one sub-temple with some ceremonies in. It leads to one of the main courtyards where you'll find food stalls and a lot of everything.

On the right of that courtyard is a small museum that you should visit if open (good buddhist statues and scrolls), then a door to another courtyard where people go for some religious purposes. You can enter freely and there are even some tables and seats if you want to picnic.

On the left, you will have more stands of everything, then a plant market and even a restaurant in one of the temple building.

You can access directly there if, instead of going straight ahead at the crossing, you turn left and go along the road for about 5 minutes (again, just follow the crowd).

Unless you're looking for precious antiques, you don't need to go early to find good deal and enjoy people watching.
Florence is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2005, 07:40 AM
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cwn
 
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Hi,

Thanks for the good directions, Florence. I'm really looking forward to this experience. We are not looking for anything in particular. Though I still haven't found an obi and we love to people watch! This usually means we will fine all kinds of things we can't live without!

We had planned to travel light, but after reading this post, I told my husband we should take the bigger rolling case with the packed smaller one inside--just in case!

Again thanks so much!
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Mar 25th, 2005, 03:54 AM
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Re Toji temple market--you do not have to be looking for anything, much less anything in particular. It will all jump out at you. And don't forget to visit the temple also. It is a wonderful temple, although it is not in many of the guidebooks. We were there on the 21st when it happened to also be a holiday, Equinox Day, so it was apparently more crowded than usual, or so we were told by several Japanese locals. It was so much fun. The food was also amazing- come hungry!
We did not make it to Kitano market today. Next time....next time... that has become my mantra.
Ohara blew me away. I can't write more now, but it really shook the little bit of earth under me. It was so simply beautiful at every turn. The best decision I have made on the trip was to stay there a full day today. BTW, Jakkoin is still under construction from the fire, which I had read was arson, but no one here seems to know what I am talking about, even when I use the Japanese word for someone burning something.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 08:49 PM
  #18  
cwn
 
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Hi,

emd1, what am I missing? What did you like so much about Ohara. Three weeks form today we will be in Kyoto-can't wait!

Now I'm worried about reserved train seats after reading the other post. Didn't buy a JR pass, wasn't really a good deal for us since we are flying to Osaka and using the limo service to and from Kyoto. But definitely want reserved seats if we make the trian to Himeji and Hiroshima! I tried to reserve though JTB and they were tacking 20% to the cost of the ticket plus a mailing fee! Desided to wait. That may prove to be a mistake!
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Mar 29th, 2005, 05:39 AM
  #19  
emd
 
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cwn: I didn't use the eki website to make reservations before we left so I am not familiar w/the process, but my understanding is that reservations can be made on that site up to 30 days in advance of the train trip. Check http://www.world.eki-net.com/
emd is offline  
Mar 29th, 2005, 05:43 AM
  #20  
emd
 
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cwn: re Ohara, I should have my trip report up soon but there are also others postings on here about it. Mealea, who lives in Tokyo, said it is one of his two favorite places (the other being Kibune/Kurama area also outside of Kyoto). It is one of the loveliest villages I have ever experienced. Quiet, peaceful, away from the bustle of Kyoto.
emd is offline  
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