We first went to the Byodoin Temple in the town of Uji (just south of Kyoto). This temple is one of the most famous buildings in all of Japan - a picture of it even appears on the 10 yen coin.
The temple is often called Phoenix Hall because of the statues of birds on the roof, along with the fact that the side areas of the building look a lot like wings, making the whole building look like a bird about to take off. The picture below shows the main building with 1 of the wings - just imagine the other side of the building having a nearly identical wing.
From here, we headed towards Kyoto itself, but got delayed. Maybe it was the white guy driving our van, or maybe we pulled out a little far before stopping, but something about the situation made this motor scooter driver try to swerve and/or lock up his brakes. The fact that the roads were wet from rain didn't help. End result was he fell and had some scratches on his leg and his bike. There was no contact between us and him, but being good citizens we made sure he was Ok, called for the police, and filled out all the forms.
Actualy, the driver (who was a school employee and fluent in Japanese) did all of this. We got to sit and watch the process from the van. Very interesting. The police were amazingly thorough, even measuring the length of the motor scooter (who knows why).
After this delay, we headed to the Inari Shrine which I had visited the las time I was in Kyoto (the one with all the Torii arches). Then off to Gion and Ponto-cho for dinner before heading back
The Ponto-cho area of Gion is known as the night life area for Kyoto. Many bars, restaurants, and clubs, especially based around one small alleyway (photo above). While there, we hoped to see some Geisha (traditional women entertainers - have the white faces and wear kimonos and well versed in music and entertaining). Unfortunately, we did not see any.
Though I didn't see too much new because of our dealy, it was definitely an interesting trip. In some ways, better than predicted, as I have seen many shrines and temples already (which are often the main thing whih people go to see when sightseeing).
During a bike ride last weekend, I had one of those little experiences which tell me how well I am progressing My batteries had run out in my camera, so I was looking to buy some new ones. I stopped at a local store (basically a room filed with goods). I was able to converse with the woman who worked there in Japanese. Wasn't a big discussion, but it did involve me asking if she had batteries, determining the size I need, and then me getting some food. Some small talk (am I student, 'Oh, I speak so well', etc.), plus paying for the batteries and munchies. No cash register here for me to read the price off of - she used an abacus to add up the amount, so I had to understand the amount based on what she said. I understood basically everything she said, and she what I said. Yeah! I am making progress!
Some news, which I seem to have left out from prior updates. I am staying at the homestay until I finish my studies here in Okazaki. The homestay started as a 1 week trial, but it has worked out so well that we decided to continue it.
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