23 March 2007

Adventures in the Kansai

We've been super busy the last week travelling all over the Kansai and seeing all the major sites. Here's a short day by day for the folks at home.

Friday the 16th - We went to Nara to see the Daibutsu (giant statue of the Buddha - see above). Dad had his map eaten by a deer and Julie and I gained enlightenment by squeezing through the Buddha's nostril (and got nasty bruises in the process). We had a yummy dinner at Eishu (Hana and Shu's restaturant) and then went for Karaoke with Hana, Shu, and Mr. Suzuki (?). Dad and Julie sang a lovely rendition of 'Mellow Yellow'.

Saturday the 17th - I had to do some demo lessons at the new school so Dad and Julie went shopping in Kobe with Hana, Non-chan and Non-chan's two girls, Satoko (see above - with Dad at the famous Boob Mountain) and Yuki. I joined the group for the first half of the trip and then went home to work, but not before we took some funny purikura (picture stickers) of the seven of us. After Dad and Julie got back to Sanda we had planned to play Mah Jong but everyone was so beat (especially after traipsing an hour out of the way to go to the tofu place and finding out that it was closed) that we decided to call it a night after a nice dinner at Suzuya.

Sunday the 18th - Sumo Day! We got up super early to go to the Sumo and spent the whole day cheering on our favorite wrestlers, eating, drinking and relaxing. After the sumo Nori-san took us out to dinner at a wonderful kaiseki restaurant in Umeda (thanks Nori-san!!!) and we enjoyed good food and good conversation.

Monday the 19th - We went to Arima Hot Springs with Nori-san, Hana and Shu. We took a cable car to the top of Mt. Rokko and took in the absolutley stunning view of the untouched forests and waterfalls, then went for a hearty grilled mutton lunch! In the evening we bathed in the natural hot springs at the hotel and had a very nice dinner. I got a tofu set which was fantastic and also some loquat juice. After Nori went to bed, we taught Hana and Shu how to play set-back and stayed up late playing cards.

Tuesday the 20th - We took the train to Kyoto. Dad got a little car-sick on the bus to the station so we had a brief rest, but then soldiered on to Kyoto. We visited a little festival at Yasaka Shrine in Gion and wandered around searching for a maiko parade that had been advertised only to find out that it was only on Saturdays. We were a tad disappointed but we did get to enjoy the festival atmosphere at the shrine and a yummy dinner at Kirin-ya restaurant, where we had a creamy pumpkin soup. After dinner we chilled out at the hotel and watched weird Japanese TV shows, and found several funny Engrish signs (see above - the Japanese actually says, 'In case of evacuation, keep low to the ground and hold a handkerchief over your mouth.'

Wednesday the 21st - This was our major sightseeing day. We started out in the morning at Fushimi-Inari Shrine, then went to Sanjuusan-gendo and Kiyomizu-dera before finishing up with another visit to Yasaka Shrine and a swing round Maruyama Park to see the modern ikebana (flower arrangement) exhibition. Finally at Kodaiji temple we watched a group of very earnest young men perform thier original version of 'You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog' in heavily accented English including some extra verses about Snoopy and Huckleberry Hound.

Thursday the 22nd - Before leaving Kyoto for Hiroshima we visited one last shrine, Heian Jingu which was about a 5 minute's walk from our hotel. I'd never been there before, but the gardens were spectacular (see above), and I wish we'd had more time to explore them. At 12:12 I put Dad and Julie on a bullet train bound for Hiroshima, and hopefully right now they're enjoying the city!

More later! Goog Afternooner!

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