Wednesday 19th August – Kyoto

Sex shop and sake was what I forgot! We stopped by a sex shop today and found some rather… interesting things.  Cards and dildos etc (sadly enough no Hello Kitty ones for Scott however. But the strangest thing was that we saw all of these items, and a rocket shooter at the top. The mind instantly starts to wonder why doesn’t it?

And outside this shop, I decided to look at a drink which I had bought earlier in the day. ‘Colin, What does this mean here I’m not entirely sure of this character’

‘Osake desu’ Sake! I’d accidentally bought a Peach flavoured sake.  I admit that two of the things I’ve gotten addicted to while here are unagi, eel, and peach flavoured things.

So today we got up rather early (which is surprisingly difficult over here) and travelled by a very packed train with all of our baggage. And you know what? It’s really heavy! FAR too may souvenirs for friends and family already which is already a good/bad sign. Not sure which yet but I already want all of them for myself! So after all of the travelling I was really tired by the time we got to the ryokan especially after the incredibly packed bus and people even squishing back at every stop just for the doors to close properly. If I lived here I wouldn’t ever get on the bus!

But the ryokan here is amazing! Very friendly staff who great you right from the font door in formal yukata, shoes come off right at the entrance, which they take and memorise your faces so that you don’t need to worry about retrieving them. Basically, there’s a little box around the side with Colin’s name on, and they bring your shoes out whenever you even approach the front door.

So after being formally greeted with sweets and tea, it was back out for us where we separated from Colin, and got very lost somehow. I would like to point out that I wasn’t orienteering at this point and had not been given the directions by Colin either! Luckily enough though I still made myself useful by asking where we were and where to go etc. so it’s great that I know a little Japanese! Petros was useless! And the roundabout journey with tons of backtracking was very very hot, but there were some great temples to melt in.

So after this we managed to finally find Colin, Sayuri san and Ayano san. Although Stef and I needed to dash off to use the toilet only to find our first Japanese toilets! Little basin things on the floor, with a pole in front to hold onto if you need, and no soap either. Ah! When covered in sweat, sun cream, and crouching hoping to god that you miss you knickers, you feel rather stupid, but glad that you brought your cucumber wipes! Although sadly enough although these are traditional and actually rather hygienic, I did find out later from Ayano san that these are disappearing around Japan a little.

So after this we had a nice walk around another temple with some very interesting traditions. We walked through a pitch black can’t see a friggin’ thing route following big Buddhist beads with our left hands. Rather scary, but would have been worse if I’d never done Rangers beforehand.  So basically we went around blindly and it was slightly unnerving, then came to this strange section where there was a stone which you needed to turn while making a wish. After this you emerge almost as if out of the womb out into the boiling hot air again. Basically it was actually nice and  cool to be religious!

After this we went to the cupid section where you needed to walk in between the love stones. First off I opened my eyes a bit which ruins it, but the second time I used the contours of the pavement to guide me, and got a cheer from some onlookers who I think found it rather amusing to see a gaijin stumble around!

We queued up for long and healthy life water where I almost hit people over the head, but it was definitely fresh. So now I will  have my wish fulfilled, find my true love and have a long healthy life apparently. I wish it were that simple!

For lunch the girls took up to a place where I tried duck sirloin and tempura! Yum I forgot how good it was! Soy bean ice-cream from a nearby vendor wasn’t too bad as well apart from the fact that I dripped it absolutely everywhere!

Later on we went to the Animate store where unfortunately we had to leave fairly quickly but it was heaven! Compacted Akihabara but better. If only we could go back but we don’t have that long in Kyoto! Maybe in Shibuya? Although what was funny was that I showed Petros a pair of cat ears, and he bought them! I didn’t at the time but if I find them again…

After this we had karaoke with the girls which was amazingly fun. They were obviously having a great time, sang some songs with me (and seemed a little impressed) and even picked Evangelion (love that song) Keiko san joined us this evening who didn’t speak much English, but was really really friendly again. And also, new discovery, grape drink thing. Great stuff!

Dinner was at a quite convincing Western place where I had pizza, garlic toast, and the BEST tiramasu! What was great was outside while we were waiting, the girls were playing some weird hand game thing so on impulse I did that thing where you reverse your hands and wiggle your middle fingers. The girls seemed quite surprised by this and had no idea how to do it! It’s the simple things which really catch me! So I showed them how to do it. And once we’d got in I go two nice compliments. First of which was that they liked my pronunciation, and second of which apparently I reminded them of the main girl from Mamma Mia! Apparently I’m quite cute and remind them all of her. Not entirely sure why though but…

So they guided us back to the bus back to the ryokan (they weren’t going the same way as they don’t live right in Kyoto) but we made a promise to find each other on Facebook. Yay! They were really cool to hang out with!

On a final note, the ryokan was still amazing, but the onsen was FAR too hot. Petros despite being Greek and able to handle the heat was also a wuss and didn’t even go in himself. What?!?

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