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|
Monday, May 15 2023 (Day 8)
Dinner yesterday was soup from leftover ingredients from Friday night, and leftover fried rice from Saturday night. I’ve been using that random sauce that I bought on Day 5, it’s called Mizkan Gomapon sauce, which is apparently goma ponzu — Japanese sesame vinegar mixed with yuzu juice ponzu. I put it on top of rice and it tastes pretty great.
I’ve also been a very big fan of Arch Foam Erasers, after buying a small pack of them from the Can*Do dollar store in the local Aeon Mall to try out on Day 2. They erase so well! They also apparently get worn out fairly quickly, so I’m thinking of getting a bunch more before I head home. I spent some time yesterday extolling its virtues to my Discord server. And then forgot to write all about it when I got home and started my blog post yesterday. Anyway it’s written down now.
I have been wondering about how this experience will differ from the Sophia one when I finally get around to that. I asked Zian, who did a 4 month stay at NUS in Singapore just prior to this, if there was anything like this cohort group that we have in that kind of semester/yearly exchange, and as expected she said no — people all had their own classes and so even though there were 7 people from her school going to NUS that semester, they were all split up over different dorms anyway and had different classes and focuses and she only really spoke and became friends with one of them. And for me I’m already the only person from my University going to Sophia anyway so that was never even an option to begin with. Plus I’ll be in my own housing space outside of the suggested dorms.
This should be fine still though — I have plenty of solo travelling experience and even now I’m not hurting for being away from the 6 that are living in that same hotel, I just miss out on a couple of activities/going home together but I have more options that open up elsewhere in terms of my evenings and weekends, and I get to go home with Zian fairly often as well.
As always, here’s a hearty start to the blog (and my mornings): Breakfast at Ritsumeikan‘s! The free meal week has ended, and now breakfast costs 100 yen a pop, and I wasn’t asked to show proof of my student status this time even though it’s still only technically for Ritsumeikan staff and students, I think. There was also next to no line for most of the hour — last week during free breakfast time, there wasn’t really a line until about half past eight or so, at which point the line went out the door and halfway up the stairs. Today, even though the price for the breakfast was only 100 yen higher than last week, a line never even threatened to materialize. Perhaps it was partially due to it also being raining on and off today, but I don’t think that’s the case…
Class was okay, mediocre even, I strongly disagreed with our Japanese teacher (and I still do) on a correction he made during our second period where he was trying to split hairs on a dumb definition on some answer I submitted, and saying that a sentence that went (translated) “He’s a very serious/earnest/by the books (majime) person, it’s inconceivable that he’d fail a test” is wrong somehow because being serious has nothing to do with failing a test, “because a test can be hard or easy and is separate from whether he’s serious or not” but then suggested a correction like “it’s inconceivable that he’d turn up late for a test” was okay instead. He’s wrong.
Then, in our third period (out of three 50-minute chunks), we had some Buddies that volunteered to come in and chat with us, but the instructor formed everyone into a big group because there were only 3 Buddies for us 4 students, and then ignored us to do his own thing at the front desk of the classroom for the rest of the class, while we awkwardly stared at each other for a bit, and then veered down an offramp and took a strong right turn away from the prescribed topic (of recommendations for things in Kyoto), and so most of the hour went to random chat about things I don’t and couldn’t participate in, like karaoke, J-Pop/K-Pop, baseball, or shounen battle anime. I did prepare some questions but just tuned out and didn’t care by that point and let the others chat away. I lost a lot of respect for this Mon/Wed teacher, Mr Katsuki, today. It felt like he didn’t want to be there.
I did much better, as I usually do, during the lunch hour conversation practice, when enough Buddies stopped by that I got to chat one-on-one with one of them. I’ve had some really fun and sincere-seeming Buddy conversations at lunch.
But more importantly, the lunch (and dinner) menus at the University swap out each Monday, so we got a menu with a bunch of new-to-us items!
Comparing it to last week’s menu, here:
Slightly over half the items are different, or at least are variations of what was there last week. Good enough for me. New stuff to try. Some side dishes seemed to be new too, though a lot was the same. One of the new items was a little Mont Blanc cake though, and it tasted amazing. Even despite my lack of a sweet tooth.
After lunch, we took a public bus to a tea… school? I’m not sure what to call it. Its name was Urasenke, and it looked like this out front:
Except we weren’t actually allowed into that hall, which was the main/usual hall, because it was undergoing renovations or had just completed thus. Instead, our guide, whose name I think was Michael, showed us into an adjacent building and said that the master of the school (and current head of the school) had temporarily opened up his private tea practice room or something for us. Another Tanaka Special, as Mr Tanaka said, to everyone’s mirth.
He then proceeded to give us a powerpoint lecture in very fluent English that lasted about maybe 45 minutes or so, where he talked about himself and his experiences, and then tried his best to dispel some myths about tea ceremonies, or chado, and how traditional/strict they were, while linking the entire process to terms like wabi-sabi, ichigo ichie, and being mindful of daily life. An outlook I very much share, so that part of the presentation was very much up my alley.
He then did a demonstration with one of the other RSJP students, Aubrey, with what a regular formal tea serving would look like. It was really interesting and consisted of a multitude of small things that added up into one long, smooth process. He said that every little move the server made was calculated and meaningful and that there were basically no wasted movements from her.
After watching that demonstration, we watched Michael use a matcha tea brush and mix the matcha tea and water in a provided bowl, stirring it quickly and strongly to mix as much air in as possible before using the matcha brush to even out the bubbles through the tea. We were then given a sweet snack, which was meant to commemorate the red umbrellas from today’s Aoi Matsuri, a major festival that was meant to take place in the city today (although that got postponed to tomorrow due to rain) to enjoy:
Followed by our own matcha tea bowls and brushes to try making (and drinking) the tea ourselves. My mixture looked like this:
We then sipped all of it down while appreciating and thinking about the fragility and uniqueness of the current moment. All too quickly after that, the workshop was over, and we gathered outside for pictures (and I got everyone to sign a postcard, which I then gave him — my third one to find a new home, although I forgot to take a picture of this one.)
We then disbanded and went on our merry ways. I went right back to the hotel to rest up a bit, as I had a bit of a headache and I finished most of this blog, before going out again in the evening to get dinner.
For dinner, I went to the nearby Aeon Mall to pick up dinner from the discounted bento boxes in the supermarket there, and I wanted to showcase what finding and learning and taking advantage of peak times for a good supermarket can do.
Besides the bread and those bottles, which weren’t part of dinner, my dinner was made out of four bento boxes that were all 50% off each, though I could easily also have just gone with the rice bowl and any one of the other three instead as well, they were just so cheap at that point plus I wanted to show off the discounts a bit. I got all of that for exactly half off, so even despite overbuying a little, dinner cost 743 yen instead of 1486 yen. And it was great!