Kyoto is big. Not so much geographically as site-seeing wise. One could visit everything in Kyoto, but they would go blind from all the temples and shrines and palaces. It is crazy. Otherwise, Kyoto looks like Osaka with a different love hotel area. At this point in our trip, I was on death`s door (in my terms, so just feeling really unpleasant and not hungry and needing to use the loo every four seconds. Really, Aron was probably suffering more as I get needy and whiny when I am dying). I wanted my mom. And a clean place to stay. Aron pulled through, hero that he is, and found us the Hean no Mori hotel in eastern Kyoto. It was lovely and had an onsen AND a bakery on the first floor! How great is that. The first place we went to was unmentionably disgusting, but the owner was very kind and gave us postcards and pretty chopsticks. When we got to Hean no Mori, our room wasn`t ready and we had been biking in the rain for an hour, so looked quite a sight. They set us up in their cafe and we got free eats (which wasn`t worth much as I was sick) but it was still some damn good service, for which I am quite grateful.
Despite illness and bad weather, we visited 3 of the 200 zillion UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto. I am not much for temples/shrines/palaces after the first one. We did see the impressive Nino-jo (Nino castle) which was built for the Tokogawa shogun when he wasn`t in Tokyo (which, sad to say for the hundreds of laborers who built the huge establishment, was about 20 days in 150 years). The castle was outfitted with special floor board architecture so when people walked the floors squeaked. They are called `nightengale` floors. The rooms were unreal impressive with brilliant 17th century artistry on the soji and very cool mannequins all geared up to look like samurai and female attendents. It was wild. Sadly, we couldn`t take either photos or sketches, so you should really go see it yourself.
In Kyoto, we also got over my illness with a little retail therapy in Gion, home of the last vestiges of geisha life and lots of great stores! We hit a major mall in search of replacements for Aron`s near tattered shoes. Of course they had nothing, but our true purpose was realized in that one of the saleswomen helped us find a specialty shoe store. She even called to confirm and printed us a map! We each bought shoes that fit us and are both happy (ok, not me. I have buyers remorse when it comes to footwear. I don`t like my feet). Amidst our shopping, we found a great Italian place for dinner and I finally bought some Japanese makeup. Woo hoo for blue/green eyeliner!
As we walked through Gion to our bus stop (it was nearing our 9pm bedtime), we saw lots of young women in kimono and a strange clan of super tan men and women with crazy hair styles and black or white suits. It was...weird. They had a whole crowd and there were gaijin all standing about confused and fascinated. There were Japanese people staring too, but they somehow are not as noticeable. We considered going for dessert, or a drink , or a movie, but really, 9pm is when we crash. We headed to a cobini (convenience store like 7-11) and grabbed aloe yogurts instead, then ate them after our onsen. Just perfect.
Aron has become highly skilled both at the Japanese language and at reading maps/bus schedules/etc. He can figure out where we need to go and how to get there, whether by bus or bike. I think I will keep him. Hee hee.