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|
Saturday, May 20 2023 (Day 13)
I was curious, so I peeked at my Google Maps history. This was the main part of my walking route for today:
At least the light blue part of the trail here. I started at Gion in the bottom right and ended at Kyoto Shiyakusho Mae in the top middle. I also walked back and forth several times along that stretch of road in the northwest. What a mess. The visible dark blue segments are my buses to and from the area, from Nishioji Shijo out west.
I ventured out of the apartment today at around 11:15 am or so. Zian is a great person, but one thing about travelling everywhere with her is that we will never visit a curry shop because she abhors spicy foods. So, since we seem to do stuff separately on the weekends, and I was by myself today, I went to a curry shop for lunch!
The shop I went to apparently specializes in Kyoto versions of Sri Lankan-inspired Kyushu Curry, according to this site (local). It was decently good, though a bit pricey (with rice, it came to 1510 yen) and I regret not taking the hottest option. I took the middle spice level option out of three available options because I knew I had several hours ahead of me still and didn’t want to face stomach troubles or anything along the way, but medium barely made me sweat at all. They sat me at the bar, though, so I took several pictures of the cooking process, the bar, and the eventual food.
There was a bowl of rice hidden underneath that egg, and some tomato hiding behind a cracker in the back left side.
After lunch, I went back to the main thoroughfare running through my neighbourhood, and took the bus way east, basically to the Gion area just west of Yasaka Temple, to start the portion of my afternoon and evening in the area which is covered in the map above.
The first part of my walk took me through Gion area, where I popped into several shops and bobbed up and down the river of humanity flowing along the pavement.
I was hoping to find the fans in the shop located in the bottom right of yesterday’s poster, reposted here:
But while I did find the shop, a souvenir shop largely selling wooden and paper fans, fan cases, and fancy things to put one’s fans on, I didn’t find the fans themselves, so I assumed that they were sold out. While looking in other shops though, I saw a diaper brand that startled me:
This brought back an odd advertisement jingle from my 90’s childhood in Singapore that I had long forgotten about, until I saw the name of the brand, Mamypoko, and it came unbidden back into my mind.
Walking west and out of the Gion area took me to a commercial area with several tall buildings that housed department store-style shopping malls. The main one I burned a couple hours in was Kawaramachi OPA, as it had a second-hand thrift store (the Book-Off Plus sign in the following picture) in it that included Japanese CDs and anime merchandise alongside clothes and bags and other thrift store things:
I bought two second-hand CDs from the 8th floor Book-Off Plus store there, then a cheap card holder from the Daiso dollar store on the 7th floor, and then a mousepad — finally a mousepad I sort of like after many many years — from a Korean goods specialty shop named Munit on the 6th floor. Later on in the afternoon, I also stopped by another Book-Off branch further north, one which I had been to before during my previous Kyoto trip, and picked up a third CD. A picture of those five items together is provided here:
Walking around the neighbourhood between the two aforementioned stores took me through some narrow alleys, with gems like this:
Those words, which basically means the equivalent of “In Case of Fire”, is usually reserved for things like fire hydrants or hoses or something, but here it’s used for a random bucket of water.
More importantly though, the streets brought me to the riverbank of the Kamogawa River — technically just Kamogawa, or Kamo River, since gawa means River, but it’s easier to write Kamogawa River because Kamogawa is also a separate city in Chiba. This was my second time here — I had walked a little bit of the riverbanks back during my last trip to Kyoto at night, but this was my first time here in the afternoon and evening. There was a steady stream of people young and old, locals and tourists, strolling, jogging, cycling, walking their dogs, sitting down and having a snack or a chat, fooling around, or doing whatever else along the riverbank, but it wasn’t “busy” or bustling per se. And there was a cool breeze and lots of nice shade to hide under, especially on the western side of the bank, so walking here felt amazing and very healing, especially with the constant sound of rushing water.
I started off on the east bank:
Kamo means duck, and there were a good number of ducks around the place:
As well as other majestic birds, like this grey heron staring off into the distance:
And some high schoolers having a best friend moment under a bridge:
I broke off from the river here to visit that other Book-Off store and when I returned I crossed over to the west side of the river to continue northwards. But first, when I was rejoining the river path, I saw a whole bunch of onlookers crowded around a bridge:
Everyone was trying to get a picture of a busker! Someone was crooning next to the riverside using a microphone and speakers:
I don’t know who he was exactly, but Google Assistant says the song I heard was a 66% match for this song, TSUNAMI by Southern All Stars, so maybe that was one of the vocalists for the group. His voice sure was smooth and crooning though.
A bit further on, there was a series of stepping stones across the river, and I stood watching the people crossing it for a little while:
Some people still managed to get lost:
The river was really shallow here, to the point that even little kids were just skipping across the stones as their uncaring parents watched on.
I didn’t cross the stones, though I thought about it. My destination was on the west side of the river, and not long after those stones, I turned off the riverbank and went west to Shimogoryo Shrine. There, Day 1 of a mini festival was taking place!
The shrine itself was actually quite small, so the stalls spread out on the street outside the shrine as well, and went on for about four city blocks. It was scheduled from 12 pm on May 20th to 6 pm on May 21st, with the main events being a childrens’ float parade at 7 pm on May 20th and an adults’ float parade all throughout the day on May 21st, from what I understand of the event’s informational PDF (local). There were stalls everywhere, and I took many pictures that I will largely upload into a gallery below as there aren’t many captions needed, they just capture some people, moments, and booths at the event.
I spent slightly over two hours here, and ate four things here through the evening. Firstly, a kakigoori, or shaved ice, topped with ramune flavour, which cost 300 yen:
Then, a mini okonomiyaki, which the stall called a marumaruyaki, and also cost 300 yen:
Then, a bit of yakisoba, which cost 600 yen and took forever to get, as it was somehow the only yakisoba stall present and the owner was cooking it as he went and then serving a couple customers the moment a fresh batch was completed:
And finally, later that night, some fried renkon (lotus root) topped with garlic powder, which cost 500 yen for a small bag.
Renkin chips, the stall called it, and it tasted weird.
Below here, as promised, is a gallery with general festival pictures:
I also did stay for the actual children’s parade, and my biggest regret of the day was that I only had my regular, iffy phone camera to record parts of it with. There were five floats, and each float was carried out from the starting area near the shrine by the children (though actually strategically mainly handled by adult men on each corner of the wooden beams holding the shrine up), out toward the end of the festival street, and then back again to the start before it ended. On the way out, I took an approaching and departing picture of each of the five shrines/floats, and a quick video of them as they passed me, and at the risk of being repetitive, what follows next is an archival section for me to put each of these intro/outro and blurry 8-10 second videos.
Float 1 intro:
A good number of audience members were walking along with them as well. Some taking pictures or videos of friends or even fooling around a bit with them, others taking general pictures or videos, or clapping and cheering along (hoitto hoitto! etc). Once they reached the end of the street, they paused for a bit and then turned around and came back, with the trailing float now becoming the leading float, and so on, since there was no space for the procession to properly do a U-turn. This time, I walked back with them, specifically between the fourth and fifth floats, and I did a 3m 45s video of the last portion of the event where they jumped around a few times to shake the shrine (they did this at varying points on the way back as well) before finally putting it down and leaving. The enshrined gods sure would have gotten a workout.
I also have a general gallery of pictures of this procession, largely taken in between the first five videos and the sixth longer one, though I also took some pictures of the drawings on one of the floats after the children had dispersed and the floats were being dismantled.
Neat stuff. It was getting late by that point so I caught a nearby bus home once people started to disband.