The Slightly Longer Way Series - Table of Contents
|Day 0 – Friday, May 05 2023 to Sunday, May 07 2023||Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo||-|
|Day 1 – Monday, May 08 2023||Train from Tokyo to Kyoto||-|
|Day 2 – Tuesday, May 09 2023||RSJP Orientation Day||W1D1|
|Day 3 – Wednesday, May 10 2023||Placement test, Kinkakuji/Golden Pavilion||W1D2|
|Day 4 – Thursday, May 11 2023||Kyo-Yuzen Dyeing Workshop||W1D3|
|Day 5 – Friday, May 12 2023||Mori Touki-ken Pottery Workshop||W1D4|
|Day 6 – Saturday, May 13 2023||Ichihime Shrine, Nishiki Market||-|
|Day 7 – Sunday, May 14 2023||Nara, Todaiji Temple||-|
|Day 8 – Monday, May 15 2023||Urasenke||W2D1|
|Day 9 – Tuesday, May 16 2023||Nijojo Castle||W2D2|
|Day 10 – Wednesday, May 17 2023||Tojiin Temple||W2D3|
|Day 11 – Thursday, May 18 2023||Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, Tsubomi||W2D4|
|Day 12 – Friday, May 19 2023||Kyoto Station||W2D5|
|Day 13 – Saturday, May 20 2023||Kamogawa River, Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai||-|
|Day 14 – Sunday, May 21 2023||Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai||-|
|Day 15 – Monday, May 22 2023||Kimono-Pro||W3D1|
|Day 16 – Tuesday, May 23 2023||Ritsumeikan Library, Hama Sushi||W3D2|
|Day 17 – Wednesday, May 24 2023||Domoto Insho House, Kamogawa, Ichijoji||W3D3|
|Day 18 – Thursday, May 25 2023||Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Hama Sushi (with Kel)||W3D4|
|Day 19 – Friday, May 26 2023||Super Karaoke||W3D5|
|Day 20 – Saturday, May 27 2023||Nothing special|
|Day 21 – Sunday, May 28 2023||Demachi Masugata Shopping Street, a long walk home|
|Day 22 – Monday, May 29 2023||Nothing special||W4D1|
Thursday, May 18 2023 (Day 11)
One of the ring straps on my bag broke today, which seriously annoyed me. The strap and hooks don’t seem to be very secure — the strap has a D-shaped buckle on both ends, and each buckle is supposed to snap onto one of the rings on the bag to convert it into a backpack (two straps) or a shoulder bag (one strap), but the rings themselves have hook buckles that can be opened for some reason, and they have opened mid-use and sent my bag falling off my shoulder and toward the ground three times during regular use already. Two of those times it happened by the crossroads near the nearby Saiin Station, and in one of those two times both my Yasaka Shrine protection omamori badge and my Yuuki Yuuna keychain fell onto the ground, though I thankfully managed to retrieve both and secure them better for the next time that that ring buckle came loose.
Anyway, when my bag came apart again this time in front of the ice cream shop mentioned below, I thought this was the same thing happening again — but this time it was not that the ring buckle had come loose, but that the entire faux leather strap that the ring was attached to had torn itself right off the bag somehow. I have not even been particularly overloading the bag. I have other rings to attach the strap too, fortunately, so I can still sort of continue to use it, but somehow I don’t think that this bag will last my full trip.
While my apartment is pretty darn clean, one thing that did make me go hmm is that the rim of the little cooking pot I have is a little blackened or stained from someone’s past use. I haven’t gotten sick from using it though, so whatever, especially since nearly everything else is in near perfect condition, but that pot, it’s a strange one. I’m calling it black.
I do appreciate that the apartment gave me free toothpaste AND toothbrushes though. They’re pretty good toothbrushes too. And they were in little sealed plastic pouches when I arrived too, so unlike the pot, I knew that they were new and clean.
I also wanted to make sure I had hover text for our teachers and coordinators today, so I’m listing their names here. Mr Tanaka and Ms Nishioka are our coordinators, and Mr Katsuki (Mon, Wed), Ms Kaneko (Tue) and Ms Hara (Thu, Fri) are our three Japanese instructors. Lauren, someone I met today, requires her own hover text as well.
My sleep has been really punctuated the last few nights, I have been finding that I fall asleep right around 8 pm or 9 pm, wake up and nod back again a couple times between then and 2 am, and then remain up for a good chunk of the night after that to do my blog and homework. How weird.
Lastly, I received my Sophia acceptance letter today. Period of Acceptance: September 21, 2023 to September 20, 2024
Zian and I had decided yesterday to try eating from the convenience store on campus this morning, for a change of pace. What we didn’t count on was that the store didn’t actually open until 8:30 am, which didn’t leave us with much time after paying for the food to wolf it down before class started. But we managed. My actual breakfast was a couple slices of bread with actual strawberries stuffed indignantly between them.
Class was fairly fun and passed quite quickly. Among other things, we were given a couple of sheets listing the difference between regular Japanese and the local dialect, Kansai-ben, and Ms Hara, who was from the area, demonstrated the intonations of the dialect. That was very interesting.
This was lunch:
During lunch, we met the students from another university, Case Western Reserve University, from Cleveland, Ohio. Today was their first full day after yesterday’s orientation, and their first lunch hour with the Buddies and us. There were five of them plus their Japanese teacher, and they were schedued to be here for two weeks or so, until June 2nd.
We had nothng formal planned after lunch, and Zian and I had plans to visit a nearby temple, Ryoanji, after liunch. While chatting to someone from Case Western, Zian found out that they were also headed to Ryoanji this afternoon, so one thing led to another and we ended up informally joining their group for the visit there, after their teacher confirmed with Ms Nishioka that it was okay. We also learnt that although the Ritsumeikan office was aware of and roughly overseeing their presence as well, and that they would be joining us for a couple of activities next week, they were largely a self-guided group in terms of activities, and this visit itself did not involve either Mr Tanaka or Ms Nishioka, although the latter followed us partway to the temple, which was a mere five minutes away from Ritsumeikan‘s western gate, before wishing us well and turning back. Two Buddies also followed the group along while helping to keep them engaged in conversation and such.
I did see this house along the way that seemed to be for sale, and had pictures posted out front on their gate, posted in a very half-Internet, half-traditional, sort of way:
The temple itself cost 600 yen to enter, and involved a path that wound its way through a large pond and led to a main building with a rock garden inside. The group, along with many other visitors, sat on the steps of the rock garden for some time to contemplate their choices in life that led to that point:
There were also rooms with dragon murals painted on the walls, and unlike Nijojo the other day, we were allowed to take pictures of this one — just no flash photography for whatever reason.
They took a couple of pictures, though I largely tried to avoid the photos as we were guests along for the tour but not really part of their group. In particular, I captured a picture of Zian taking a picture of the rest of the group, which I really liked:
Zian and I also picked up a goshuin, of course.
We then left the temple and headed back over toward the main Ritsumeikan bus stop. Along the way, we stopped for ice cream at a small traditional shop. The store was called Kyotsukemono Tomikawa and this blend of vanilla and matcha ice cream cost a little over 400 yen. This was also where the ring on my bag, that I was complaining about earlier, snapped.
We then disbanded after a final group shot:
One of the girls in this Case Western group was named Lauren, she’s pictured here looking back at the camera.
She requested to tag along with Zian and I on our further adventures, although we didn’t really have any follow-up plans for the day. We readily agreed though, and after some chat, we decided to visit a shopping street near the hotel that Lauren and the rest of her group were staying at, which was located near Omiya Sanjo, about halfway between the neighbourhood where Zian and I stayed (Saiin/Nishioji Shijo), and where the hotel where the rest of our RSJP group was staying (Kawaramachi Nijo). It might be worth noting here that Shijo translates to something like Fourth Street, whereas Sanjo is Third Street and Nijo is Second Street, those are horizontal streets that run through Kyoto. Nishioji, Omiya, and Kawaramachi are vertical streets, and something like Nishioji Shijo is basically the intersection between the vertical Nishioji Street and the horizontal Shijo.
By this point the three of us were just speaking English, since speaking Japanese, while educational, was also just stressful, especially without a mentor of some sort there. We took a bus to the shopping street, which was called the Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street — it was a horizontal covered shopping arcade that ran along the Third Street and intersected a bunch of vertical streets along the way. It looked like this:
This shopping street apparently had a lot of “independent”, family-owned stores, so there were things like shops specializing in bicycles, paper, hats, bags, second-hand shirts (and only shirts), fresh produce, and then weirder ones like this shop that specifically seemed to revolve around books featuring cats:
And this half-locker half-vending machine thing selling bags of onions:
After we reached the end of the street, we stopped by a Lawson convenience store, and then looked around for a place to have dinner. Lauren saw an interesting-looking okonomiyaki bar/diner nearby called Tsubomi, which was halfway between where we were at the east end of the shopping arcade, and where her hotel (and the bus back to our neighbourhood) was, so we headed in that direction.
Tsubomi turned out to be a really interesting experience — it was a tiny and somewhat seedy shop featuring a kitchen area that took up most of the shop, as well as a bar area lining the side of the kitchen with space for about eight people. We took three seats there and basically watched the owner, who was a kind man who could speak a tiny amount of English to communicate with us and a German couple that came by later, and his mother, an 82-year old woman who made our takoyaki and gave us an extra piece for free so that we would have nine pieces to split among the three of us equally, cook our food on hot plates in front of us.
Even though we were the first customers there when the shop opened for the evening at 5:15 pm, he apparently had another standing order for a mother and her kid who came by later on to pick up some noodles to take home, so it was around 6:30 pm before we finally actually got our food. It was late to the point that Zian actually had to head back home for a pre-arranged zoom meeting after an hour of waiting for the food, so we arranged for her food to be packed up as takeaway instead. Yet it was still a pretty fun evening watching them cook the food in front of us and enjoying the ambience of the place. Some pictures of the bar and cooking follow:
This was the bowl of takoyaki that the three of us shared before Zian had to go:
My meal was ebi (shrimp) yakisoba:
Whereas Lauren had buta (pork) okonomiyaki:
And Zian had ebi okonomiyaki, which looked basically the same, and was sliced into chunks and packaged into two plastic containers. The yakisoba was pretty good, not the absolute best I’ve ever had but I’ve eaten a lot of noodles in my time, and the experience (and to a certain extent, the wait time) did elevate it somewhat. I didn’t try the okonomiyaki, although Lauren said that it was sweet. Our reviews of the takoyaki were positive as well (although I’m no expert on that front).
Our evening wrapped up after that, we made plans to meet up again on future days and go out to more places if possible. I made my way back to my place with Zian‘s dinner in a bag, and handed it to her at the entrance of my lodging once her meeting was done and she sauntered by my place to pick it up.