Friday, March 21, 2008

Japan Travel Diary: Day 2 pt. 2

The first real day in Japan. It started with a bullet train to Kyoto from the airport hotel in Tokyo. When we got off the train, we were in the basement of a large department store. We wound our way up to a grand entrance/exit and then I saw it, a statue of Astroboy, the patron cartoon character of Kyoto. While in awe and begging for my wife to take a picture of me and the statute, we were approached by a small band of Japanese school children, all wearing the same ill-fitting yellow baseball caps and equally gangly red back packs. In broken English, peppered us with questions, they asked our names, what sports teams we liked, how we liked Kyoto, then their hands shot out with folded paper crane as a gift and one of the children, standing the furthest away, took our picture with disposable camera tied around his neck with a piece of twine. They then asked us to sign in their little signature book. All very cute.

However, as we walked parallel to the building towards the cab to the hostel, we were approached by wave after wave of school children, so quckly that I couldn't get my camera out before another wave asked if we liked soccer and forced a paper crain on us. The kids were running at us by the end, from all directions. Before we got in the cab I remember seeing a teach mouth "I'm sorry" in English with a slight shoulder shrug.

The rest of the day we got to explore the real Kyoto of the Gion district, filled with tea houses and geisha, litterally. It was rather daunting. We couldn't, and still can't read any Japanese and were jet lagged form the trip. Because all the tea houses had only Japanese signage, we started slightly starving. I filled my belly with some street food, which was barbecued mochi, with sweet soy sauce. Picture a firm marshmallow with barbecue sauce. I liked it, Alex . . .not so much. Because of our culture shock, we retreated not to our traditional Japanese room, complete with futons and tatami mats, but an Irish Bar(!) staffed by a frenchman. It was a cool place burried as most swank places in Japan on the 7th floor off a narrow, windowless building. In Japan, it works. Just ask the other places we saw like, "Club Boob" and "Atomic Cock Tattoo".

*The Yona Yona was a canned barleywine that was delicious and the Yebisu was the less Budweiser-y alternative to the ever present Sapporo and Kirin.

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