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|
Sunday, May 14 2023 (Day 7)
This gas stove in my apartment — using it really brings me back to my childhood times in Singapore. We definitely had it in Yishun 799, probably Yishun 723, and quite possibly Tampines 294 too. I don’t remember electric stoves until we came over to Canada. Conversely though, I don’t ever remember gas stoves in Canada, and I’ve never come across one in my rental apartment travels within Japan until now, as they almost always use induction heating stoves here.
I’m glad I instinctively still remember how to use these stoves, as there sure aren’t instructions on the stove itself. I had to turn and press the knob and hold it near the highest possible heat setting, until the blue flames flicker to life, at which point I can then depress the heat setting dial and turn it to whatever setting I want to actually use. It’s not just as straightforward as turning the dial right to the heat setting and walking away, like one would with an induction or electric stove.
Also, while my new sling bag isn’t perfect, I not only approve of the number of bag pockets I have, and that it’s allegedly 100% vegan and recycled (but yet looks and feels like leather on the outside), but also something that I had completely overlooked before — it’s waterproof. I believe that in just a touch over a week here, it’s already been raining for more days than it had the entirety of my last Kami Watch Over Me series trip here, which is pretty insane to think about, and while I loved the old crumbly bag, it was also completely made out of cloth on the outside and so would easily get at least damp if not outright wet, since they haven’t yet invented umbrellas that reliably cover the middle to lower part of the body all the time. The stuff inside the old bag was nonetheless kept dry, but the outside becoming wet still meant a certain level of minor annoyance to deal with when travelling around.
Also, I’ve already dropped my phone on the ground 3 times this trip thus far. So far so good still, but it’s so not going to survive the trip unscathed, is it?
We actually had homework this weekend, so my breakfast consisted of a bowl of instant noodles that wasn’t particularly good, before I then settled down and did most of the homework, minus the last question and a half or so, which I finished up after I came home.
In the meantime, partly fueled by wanderlust, partly by being bored, partly by needing an answer to the inevitable “So what did you do this weekend?” question tomorrow, and partly by an acquantance with whom I was chatting and who pointed out that a CD that I had wanted had actually come out five days ago and who knows if they still had First Print bonuses available at this point, I decided to venture out. Based on a very preliminary amount of research, as different music stores had different First Print bonus items, I was targetting a store named Shinseido, but I found out that the nearest Shinseido stores to me were southwest in Osaka, and south in Nara, and for some reason the city of Kyoto itself didn’t actually have one of these shops. There were a couple other shops I tried that looked like this too — it seemed like Osaka was far more commerce and/or anime friendly and Kyoto just didn’t have much.
Anyway, while these stores were “in another city”, all three cities were still more or less connected and both the stores were about an hour to an hour and a half away from me even after factoring local travel time to get to the train nexus stations. I had been to Osaka before, if only briefly, but I had never been to Nara before, so this sounded like a good excuse to jaunt down there. In particular, Nara’s Todaiji Temple (and its surrounding park, both of which are famous for all their deer) was a destination I could easily visit, and the stop with the Shinseido store was even directly along the way on my journey to Todaiji Temple.
So off I went. I hadn’t taken a train since Day 1, so it was nice and nostalgic or something. Like meeting up with an old friend again after some time of ignoring them and seeing someone else behind their back. Talking about meeting up with an old friend again though, this was a surprising find on the first train I boarded:
Just what the heck. That’s an ad for the little art gallery in the middle of nowhere that I randomly visited yesterday while waiting for the Chahan shop to open at 5pm. Featuring Ishimoto Sho and all that. The gallery and the actual displays were kind of small, and no one else was there at all when I was, so I was surprised to see something like that advertised here in front of me the very next day.
Anyway, I took a couple of trains and ended up at a station named Takanohara Station. There was an Aeon Mall there where my target store was — yet another Aeon Mall added to my list of visited Aeon Malls that I should really compile someday. It’s probably at approximately 12 or so. Takanohara is on the very edge of the Kyoto-Nara prefectural border, and actually, while I unfortunately had no idea about this while I was there, apparently the border itself actually cuts right through the mall (local)! Fascinating stuff.
I found my taget Shinseido store in the mall, but they were out of stock of the CD, or possibly never even stocked it in the first place since the shop was a tiny one. Oh well and who knows. The next nearest shop was in Osaka and I had no plans to head out that way today, but if they weren’t sold out of First Print bonuses by now they definitely would be by next week. I put that problem aside for now and walked around the mall a little bit, capturing this Mother’s Day tribute for the ages:
I also quite easily found the food court:
And had a meal there from a fast food noodle store named Ringer Hut, except the food took forever to actually make. The food court was really crowded as well, but they gave me a buzzer to wait for my turn so I managed to get a table while waiting for my food to be made. I had Irodori Chanpon, where chanpon is a Nagasaki local noodle dish, and it looked like this:
It was pretty good. After lunch, I hopped back on the train, and took it to Nara proper, specifically to Kintetsu-Nara Station, which was about a 15 mniute walk away from Todaiji Temple. There were buses to take tourists and others to the temple itself, but it was also very much a walkable route, even in the on-again off-again rain, so I opted to walk.
Outside the station itself was a weird fountain, and then a nice-looking shopping street.
It should come to no one’s surprise that because I was alone, I got distracted and took a detour down that shopping street and into the neighbouring street from there. There I found an Animate store, which was another of the CD stores which had special First Print bonus items for the CD that I wanted to buy. They even had the CD in stock, still. I decided that this was fate, and came away with the CD in tow, plus a large, clear poster (that I had them roll up) that was actually better than the original bonus item from Shinseido that I was eyeing, which was just a small bromide, I think. I’m not particularly attached to the characters, but I do very much love the lead song from the album, and I take my seasonal favourite songs quite seriously. Also, 1,760 yen for 7 songs and an instrumental is pretty decent as Japanese anime CDs go.
Returning to the trail to Todaiji after that, I continued upon my way, and soon the famous Nara deer started to make their appearances. There were also plenty of little roadside stalls along the way that sold deer crackers, or shika (deer) senbei (rice crackers), that you could buy for 200 yen and then safely feed to the deer, who would then gather around you like moths to a flame. These stalls reminded me of.. oh, the various samey food trucks on every corner of New York’s Times Square area, or people in costume selling picture ops on the Las Vegas strip, or old folks selling incense and flowers outside famous Buddhist temples in Singapore — they’re all offering the same product or service, and the area was saturated with many people trying that same thing, but they all still seem to survive nonetheless.
Anyway I didn’t want the attention — I invoked the Chronicler’s First Creed of “Observe, Not Participate” here, and so I never bought any deer crackers to feed the deer. Instead, I watched others feed them, and watched the deer chase down people who had previously fed them crackers, in the hopes of more. I saw a couple people nodding politely at the deer and does, who would nod politely back — this was very strange, and quite incredulous, but yet apparently is a thing that some of the deer do do.
Talking about deer doodoo, there were also a number of actual souvenir stores set up near the temple itself too, and while they mostly sold keychains, handkerchiefs, antler headbands, and so on, but at least one store was selling said doodoo as a novelty item too.
I took and uploaded many pictures of the deer, both from before, during, and after my visit to Todaiji itself, and to simplify things I’m combining and putting them in a single gallery here. After a while, the novelty of seeing deer wandering the same pavements as humans wore off, and they were just deer doing deer-like things.
The only thing more plentiful than the deer were the students in uniforms — there were a TON of students here on field trips, even though it was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and their numbers were supplemented by tour groups, although there weren’t that many of those. Lots and lots of students in different uniforms though.
I went into the Todaiji Temple itself, which cost 600 yen. Apparently the main building of the shrine is (or was, allegedly until recently) the largest wooden building in the world, which would explain why it’s already burned down and been rebuilt twice before. There were large statues in them, and a tour group or student group blob in front of each one of them, with a second group waiting their turn behind, so there wasn’t actually a way to feel the spirituality here — it was very much following the flow from one statue to the next.
The temple has two outer gates, and both the temple as well as the two outer gates that precede it are photographed above.
After making the rounds, I saw the goshuin counter near the exit, and beelined for that. I got a hand-drawn one out of Todaiji Temple, for the usual 300 yen, which I found surprising since there were hundreds of people in the great hall itself. However, most of those were students, and apparently most of the students either didn’t have a goshuincho book, or didn’t deign to collect goshuin, so I picked up one for myself.
Finally, one of the deer followed me home in the form of a plushie — Tigey has a new friend! This was from a large souvenir booth just outside the Todaiji main hall itself. Clocking in at 1,980 yen, she was a little bit pricier than the CD earlier today. But you can’t put a price on friendship.