The Slightly Longer Way – Day 27

The Slightly Longer Way Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsRSJP
Day 0 – Friday, May 05 2023 to Sunday, May 07 2023Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo-
Day 1 – Monday, May 08 2023Train from Tokyo to Kyoto-
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 09 2023RSJP Orientation DayW1D1
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 10 2023Placement test, Kinkakuji/Golden PavilionW1D2
Day 4 – Thursday, May 11 2023Kyo-Yuzen Dyeing WorkshopW1D3
Day 5 – Friday, May 12 2023Mori Touki-ken Pottery WorkshopW1D4
Day 6 – Saturday, May 13 2023Ichihime Shrine, Nishiki Market-
Day 7 – Sunday, May 14 2023Nara, Todaiji Temple-
Day 8 – Monday, May 15 2023UrasenkeW2D1
Day 9 – Tuesday, May 16 2023Nijojo CastleW2D2
Day 10 – Wednesday, May 17 2023Tojiin TempleW2D3
Day 11 – Thursday, May 18 2023Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, TsubomiW2D4
Day 12 – Friday, May 19 2023Kyoto StationW2D5
Day 13 – Saturday, May 20 2023Kamogawa River, Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 14 – Sunday, May 21 2023Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai-
Day 15 – Monday, May 22 2023Kimono-ProW3D1
Day 16 – Tuesday, May 23 2023Ritsumeikan Library, Hama SushiW3D2
Day 17 – Wednesday, May 24 2023Domoto Insho House, Kamogawa, IchijojiW3D3
Day 18 – Thursday, May 25 2023Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Hama Sushi (with Kel)W3D4
Day 19 – Friday, May 26 2023Super KaraokeW3D5
Day 20 – Saturday, May 27 2023Nothing special-
Day 21 – Sunday, May 28 2023Demachi Masugata Shopping Street, a long walk home-
Day 22 – Monday, May 29 2023Nothing specialW4D1
Day 23 – Tuesday, May 30 2023Kyoto International Manga MuseumW4D2
Day 24 – Wednesday, May 31 2023Ritsumeikan LibraryW4D3
Day 25 – Thursday, Jun 01 2023Maiko/Geiko demonstrationW4D4
Day 26 – Friday, Jun 02 2023Final Presentation, Taiko LabW4D5
Day 27 – Saturday, Jun 03 2023Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, Lake Biwa Museum, Omi Hachiman (with Zian)-
Day 28 – Sunday, Jun 04 2023Omi Hachiman City Museum, Omi Jingu (with Zian)-
Day 29 – Monday, Jun 05 2023ArashiyamaW5D1
Day 30 – Tuesday, Jun 06 2023Nothing specialW5D2
Day 31 – Wednesday, Jun 07 2023Final exam, Osaka, Manga Cafe (with Zian)W5D3
Day 32 – Thursday, Jun 08 2023Osaka, Namba (with Zian)W5D4
Day 33 – Friday, Jun 09 2023RSJP Graduation DayW5D5
Day 34 – Saturday, Jun 10 2023Leaving Zian, Train from Kyoto to Tokyo, Ikebukuro-
Day 35 – Sunday, Jun 11 2023Shibuya, duo MUSIC EXCHANGE-
Day 36 – Monday, Jun 12 2023Shinjuku, Sakura House, Sophia University-
Day 37 – Tuesday, Jun 13 2023Akihabara-
Day 38 – Wednesday, Jun 14 2023Flight from Tokyo to Edmonton-
Final Thoughts--

Saturday, Jun 03 2023 (Day 27)

Random Notes

Tonight will be the first night since.. how long? that I’ve spent the night in the same house/room as someone else. It’s very rare, since I don’t use shared dorms when I go travelling. I think the last time was with Ran in Banff back during Summer Connect 2020, then being in a tent while on a Jasper trip in 2019, and before that it would have probably been with Steffy when we went to Korea in 2015.

Here’s a Day 5 post-rainstorm morning picture of the house deconstruction near my place, since I won’t be there in the evening to witness what today’s (de)construction will do to it, if anything.

I met up with Zian at 10:33 at this morning (I was late as I was packing my actual backpack) and we set off for Kyoto Station on a bus from Nichioji Shijo together. There were ways to take the train all the way there from our local station, but “free” rides with our bus pass meant more value from the pass plus eliminating needing to take the Hankyu Kyoto Line and then the Kyoto City Subway Line or whatever.

For our first order of business, we took the JR Biwako Line from Kyoto Station to Kusatsu Station.

Zian, a far more organized planner than me, had found a really interesting nearby place for lunch from a tourist guidebook that she had borrowed from the Ritsumeikan library, of all things. That’s an amazing thing to think of using our library access for. Anyway, this shop was called Kobaya-Zakkokudo, and it (at least in the main area) featured long tables that were typically shared between two groups of people at the same time, and everyone sat on cushions on the floor.

We arrived around 12:00 pm and were told that there was room for us but that we had to leave by 12:45, so we didn’t order anything fancy for fear of them taking forever to make the food — there were basically three options with a few variations and both of us ordered the same thing in the end, some grated yam and konnyaku with rice.

The grated yam was very sticky and interesting. The meal was pretty great though, especially the miso soup that came with the meal — we both agreed that it was by far the best miso soup we’ve had so far (sorry, Ritsumeikan cafeteria…). It was the right balance of being really flavourful without being too salty.

We were out of the restaurant again by 12:30 pm or so. Next on the menu was an interesting old building complex that Zian had noticed while we were walking on the way to that restaurant — this was a place called the Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, and it turns out that there are 53 particular waystations on the southern road between Tokyo (Edo) and Kyoto that the daimyo and other lords would use while travelling between the two cities in the past before motor vehicles and the shinkansen. They were spaced out, in villages and such, with about a day’s worth of travel on foot between them. This was one of them, the 52nd of the 53 counting outwards from Tokyo. Apparently it’s still possible to go on a pilgrimage and visit most of these waystations. They were basically the equivalent of a 4-5 star hotel way back when!

Pictures weren’t allowed of the specific historical exhibits inside but some general pictures were allowed.

This is a urinal from the early Edo Period:

And a hot tub:

And one of the kitchen areas:

It was not a place I would have normally explored on my own, but it was very neat. I almost bought a souvenir and still kinda regret not doing so. After this, we went back to Kusatsu Station to check the timing for a bus that we would need to catch to get to a museum, the Lake Biya museum, that we both wanted to go to. We had about half an hour before that bus would come, so we wandered into the nearby little mall, went up a level and found a small store packed full of random things, likely second-hand stuff, though not all of it was second-hand. It really felt like rummaging through a garage sale, especially once we noticed random food and drink mixed in with the items as well:

We gawked, but didn’t buy. The bus came soon after — Google Maps didn’t even list a number for this local bus, but the one we took there was labelled bus number 60. But the one we took back later on, which was essentially the same route (but a very different bus), was bus 53. So do the numbers mean anything? Not sure.

This outgoing bus was very interesting though. For starters, it had three doors!

And a window mechanism that immediately made me reminisce about 90s Singapore!

And nice, wide windows, through which we could watch paddy rice fields roll by and take satisfactory pictures through:

We had spent a bit too much time in Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, earlier, and also took our own sweet time getting to the Lake Biwa Museum, and on top of that, I insisted on dragging Zian into the museum souvenir shop before we actually went to visit the exhibition halls, so by the time we started that portion of the museum experience, the time was nearly 4:00 pm, an hour before closing. We wandered the first exhibition hall together, before spitting up to cover more ground and be able to see what we individually wanted to look at the most. I visited a second exhibition hall, and then went down to an aquarium on the ground floor. The aquarium was split into two because part of it, a tunnel with fishtanks above and to the side that usually contained fish to make oneself feel like oneself was understand, was closed. Anyway, here are some generic pics of the Biwa Lake Museum/Aquarium visit,

After we were kicked out by the bell, we also went down to Biwa Lake itself. There was a lakeside path stretching out to either direction. This was gorgeous and we spent time chilling here before realizing that the bus only comes once per hour and it was coming right away! We hurried to and caught the bus back to Kusatsu Station without any further incident. Some pictures of the lake area itself follow:

Once we reached Kusatsu Station, we took the train to the stop nearest where our night-time accommodation was located, Omi Hachiman Station, which was four stops away. My phone battery was nearly dead, but we looked for dinner places on Google Maps on our phones while on the train. When we arrived, we went through another Aeon Mall to add to my Aeon Mall visited collection, heading to its supermarket to buy some super cheap tea, before heading out and catching some gorgeous sunset pictures.

We then walked over toward a nearby place that specialized in something called monjayaki, basically okonomiyaki but slightly different due to ingredients. The restaurant’s name was Monjanaki Yamayoshi, and it’s one of those restaurants where the staff prepares and cooks the food on a hot plate in the middle of the table in front of you.

This was quite nice too! The left one was a Five Types of Mushroom monjayaki, while the right one was a Gomoku monjayaki, with five types of seafood or someting in it. There was a large “bikkuri” (surprisng) Gomoku monjayaki which we almost tried but didn’t as well. More importantly, I also got the chance to charge my phone here. I also managed to pay the bill using my phone’s Google Wallet and its tap-to-pay function, which surprised the cashier, who said that she had never seen that work before.

By this time, night had fallen, and we strolled through the city along brightly-lit streets towards our lodgings for the night. There was barely any foot traffic or any other activity in the city, compared to a major city like Kyoto or Tokyo, but the weather was awesome for a late night walk, with a little bit of a breeze which felt great to me (but made Zian pull out her jacket), so I really enjoyed this 25 minute walk to our place. We also stopped along the way to stare at the full moon, Venus, and several stars in the sky along the way. I pulled out my Star Walk 2 app and showed Zian how it could be used to identify celestial objects in the sky by pointing the phone at it.

We then reached our Omi Hachiman lodging, which was located along Shinmachi (local), a quaint little heritage area with lots of old-style merchant shops and houses. Our lodging was one of them. We couldn’t actually find the house at first and tried to barge into a locked house with large cobwebs in front of it on accident, but no one seemed to be home as no one yelled at us for that.

Once we found it, we made our way in and started to take pictures. The house is a two-storey house, sort of, there’s a main level with two connected raised rooms with tatami mats on it, and a steep ladder up to a dusty attic where there was more space for people to sleep if needed. Our bathroom and washroom was located in a separate building outside the back door and past a little garden area. This reminded me of my Hanno apartment back during my last Japan trip, which was the only other place that involved going outside in order to reach the washroom/bathroom. Funnily enough, like that place, this one also had a cat of sorts — we startled a stray cat outside in the garden when we first opened the back door, and it ran off to hide somewhere deeper in the backyard.

After settling in, and some fiddling with the lights, power sockets, and air and water heaters, we took turns having a shower, and then settled in for the night. Our front hall came with two bicycles as well, and we moved one of them to block the inside of the locked front door so that anyone who tried to barge their way in would cause even more of a ruckus. Despite being a bit musty and dusty, the place is nice and comfortable and definitely very unique. It’s really neat seeing how someone else travels and plans things, since Zian planned most of this and has been spending some of her spare time planning even as we go along our way.

Also, we had originally planned to go to Omi Jingu today, but there was apparently some sort of festival tomorrow, so we juggled our schedules along so that we could go there tomorrow instead. But we also found out late in the evening that that event had been postponed due to the typhoon (and, as we understand it, more specifically because the event involved riding horses and the typhoon prevented the safe delivery of said horses). Oh well. We’ll just visit it normally tomorrow.

Anyway, she’s five feet away from me sleeping in the other room, so I should really shut the lights off and get to bed now as well. It’s 2 am.

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