Sunday, November 11

Kyoto is for Lovers... or Just Friends

Last Saturday I made it back to Kyoto for my second round with Melissa. As an added bonus, I was able to meet and spend the day with my old pen pal who I began writing to at the age of 12 or 13 when our science teachers participated in an exchange. Even though I've been in this country for a year and a half, and had previously been to Kyoto, this was my first time meeting Yasuko. Her sister Sachiko joined us and it was a happy foursome.

"Classical Music" at the Imperial Palace

Our second bit of luck, besides the fact that Yasuko and Sachiko were free at a last minute's notice, was that that Saturday was the last day of the fall week of Open Days, when the Imperial Palace is open to the public. Apparently it's only open during two weeks in the year - in the spring and in the fall. Otherwise it's necessary to get special access, as in the case of my parents and their tour group.

Looking through the gates.

At any rate, we were able to tour the grounds, see inside the buildings, and watch a performance of "classical music," as it was explained to us by the security guard. Kawaii!

Roof of a building on the Palace grounds.

Bridge in the Palace gardens.


After the Imperial Palace we went down the street for some kitsune soba and a look-see at the letters that I had written to Yasuko almost 20 years ago, and that she had kept and brought along with her. How about them New Kids on the Block! Wow.

What a dork.

Joseph goes to Kinkakuji.

From lunch it was on to Kinkakuji, or the Golden Pavilion. The day was kind of mostly cloudy, but we were graced with the presence of the sun just as we got there, and the GP was "lit up" by the early afternoon sun. I had previously seen the GP in pictures, and was only slightly interested in seeing it, but once I was there, and beholding it, I was really impressed. I love this country.

The Golden Pavilion

Joseph, Sachiko, Yasuko and Yours Truly

Once again, the Golden Pavilion

Once again, Joseph and the Golden Pavilion. I'm glad he came.

Melissa and I.

On the grounds at Kinkakuji, we stopped for maccha and the little "cake" that comes with it. We enjoyed the delicious tea and dessert under the changing colors of the trees in the lovely afternoon air. We were so lucky!

Enjoying maccha with Joseph, Yasuko and Sachiko.

The rice-based (almost wafer-like) cake was filled with miso-flavored anko
(sweet bean paste)

After Kinkakuji we headed out to Arashiyama, on a little "Akechi-sen" type one-car train. But since it was getting late, darker and colder, we just walked around, enjoying the sights and sounds (Yaki imoooo da yoooooo!) of the streets of Arashiyama.

Statues and rickshaw at Arashiyama

Joseph, how did you get in there?!
Bad Joseph!

In one of his better moments, Joseph enjoys the kouyou, or fall leaves.


From there it was back to the station to find something warm to eat, and be on our way home. After checking out the Christmas lights, we did have time for one more photo of the group, in front of Kyoto Tower.

At Kyoto Station


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