After another good breakfast we emerged from the hotel to discover another sunny morning waiting for us outside. The weather on this trip has been fantastic! Much much better than the weather back home during this time of the year. We had to ride a bus to our first destination this morning, Ryoan-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple. It was really beautiful and since we got there right away in the morning it was also quite peaceful.
The Ryoan-ji is famous for its Karesansui garden—a garden comprised of small white pebbles and a bucnh of large boulders used to symbolize the sea and land. The garden has fifteen boulders but from any angle you look at it from you only see fourteen.
Once you achieve enlightenment however, it is said that you should be able to see all fifteen. We spent a little bit of time just sitting on the edge of the garden, silently watching the unmoving objects. I can understand its appeal, and if a large group of tourists hadn’t arrived in short time, I would have liked to spend a while there. Just sitting enjoying the scenery and the sun. We walked around the remainder of the temple and then did what was becoming one of our rituals of hitting the souvenir shops. A vender was giving out free samples of her tea. Apparently it was a special kind of tea only to be found in Kyoto—Seaweed tea! Despite the premise, I tried it anyways and found that it was probably the best tasting tea I’ve ever had! It was really salty though and tasted a lot like sea water!
We all got on the bus once again and headed for Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion.
It certainly was very golden! It had been recently restored, so the golden paint was especially vibrant. The ground where it is situated as a long history dating back to the 1200s when it was the site of a villa. It was eventually turned into a Zen Buddhist temple and has been burned down several times ever since. This temple had a little wishing place where you tried to get your coin into a cup, throwing it from about ten feet away. I tried several times and managed a rim shot, but couldn’t land a basket. I was so close!! This place also had talismans in English and I contemplated getting the victory one or the good luck with school work one. I didn’t get either however. It was interesting though that one of the most popular kinds of talisman were for safe driving! I should have gotten my brother one of those!
like Memoirs of a Geisha
Our last stop of the day was to the Fushimi Inari shrine.
This place was especially amazing because of the pathways it had completely covered in vermillion Torii gates! I believe it was where they filmed the scene in Memoirs of a Geisha where she’s running through them! The gates were all donated and bare the names of the donors on them. The shrine itself is dedicated the kami of rice, and people go there to pray for wealth.
girls at karaoke
Unfortunately it grew late and we didn’t have time to do all the things on the agenda for the day, so we cut our losses and headed back to the hotel. We agreed to meet at seven though, to take the bus back to the Gion district to do karaoke. Finally!
We got a private room at the karaoke place and thankfully Lackey-sensei came with us to help us figure out how to work the karaoke machine! When we’d gotten the hang of it, we had way too much fun.
I sang a bunch of songs though I hadn’t originally intended to. It was really hilarious when the words to the English songs were wrong and whilst I knew the right words, since I was reading the screen I’d sing the wrong ones! Weird! The best performance of the night I’d say would have to go to Joe who gave a rousing rendition of the Ghostbusters Theme Song. Time passed really quickly and before we were ready our hour was up! We reserved the room for another half an hour and probably could have stayed the whole night if we hadn’t had to catch the bus back to the hotel and if we hadn’t been out of money! Especially me! I had to borrow some from Bethany until I could get to the ATM in the 7-11 down the street from the hotel.
boys doing Weezer's "beverely hills"
I was really satisfied with the day as a whole and extremely happy to be able to say I’ve done karaoke in Japan! I was also stoked to see a real Zen garden and maybe when I get home I’ll get one of those hand held ones for myself! I’ll have to keep it at school though as my cats might mistake it for a litter box!