Since arriving in Kyoto, I think I have literally ridden a bicycle from north to south and east to west a few times over. My butt is sore. But it is a pretty flat city and quite safe to ride in, no one even wears helmets. Kyoto reminds me a little of Melbourne. There's not very many high rise buildings and there are old 17th century wooden buildings just hidden amongst the modern ones. I got lost walking to my hostel and found myself down this little backstreet with a mossy water wheel out the front, I kid you not.
My last few days in Tokyo were okay. I went to the Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza to see a real life Kabuki performance. The theatre is a cool traditional building, but it's going to be torn down in April so I got in first! It was definitely interesting - only men perform in it and they all paint their faces white and the sets are quite intricate; they have a mechanical rotator on the stage that changes the sets. I couldn't understand a word of course, but I had an English audio guide. I guess the best way to describe Kabuki is like a Japanese version of Shakespeare. I also spent some more time with Claire and a few of her friends in Shibuya/Shinjuku which is the neon wonderland you always see in photos. We went to the top of a tower for a stellar view of the massive metropolis that is Tokyo, illegally ate some ice cream on a ferris wheel and then booked a private room for a Japanese Karaoke experience.
I rode the bullet train or shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, and that was an experience in itself. That thing is fast! I got from Tokyo to Kyoto in about 2 and a half hours. By bus it takes about 8. They have seats like on aeroplanes, but with heaps more leg room. Just as well really, because it costs about as much as an aeroplane too. But it had to be done.
My hostel is very quiet, but comfiest bed ever. And it's pretty central to ride to anywhere, which I have been doing. I have seen enough temples, shrines, waterfalls, Zen gardens and castles to last me a lifetime. The best temple so far was Ginkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion, which true to its name, was golden.
Yesterday I followed this path up into the mountains around Kyoto from one of the temples and I kept going and going until I was afraid I might be lost. There was not a sign of civilisation anywhere and I had veered off so many forks in the road I wasn't sure I could get back. But I did. It was a nice little walk. Then that night I rode into Gion where there are lots of old buildings and exclusive tea rooms where the geisha hang out in. I walked down a dark road and sure enough, a few minutes later a taxi pulled up and two geisha got out and walked into a building. I think they may have been apprentice geisha or Maiko because they looked pretty young and their shoes were really high.
Not much happening on the work front - I don't have a Visa and I can't get one here, so it hinders my progress a little. If I can't get work I may need to cut my Japanese adventure a little short, as it's too expensive to stay here for two months without income.
Wish me luck!
x meg x