Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day 5: For the Sake of K-ON!

Perhaps something in the plum liquor didn't agree with me, as I awoke at 4:30 the following morning, having woken up repeatedly in the night. By around 5:30, I felt that I had established fairly soundly that I wouldn't be able to get to sleep. After having dressed, brought my notes up to date and done all of the hygiene-related things that I could think of doing, I decided to go for a wander around the surrounding area.

Kyoto was wonderfully peaceful in the early morning, and I greatly enjoyed watching the number of people around me slowly increasing as the morning sun emerged over the horizon. As the time drew closer to 7:00, I began to see particularly keen students on their way to school, and caf├ęs serving breakfast opening their doors. Although I had masses of fun whenever I was with my friends, being alone has its own advantages, and I was glad for the chance to be able to concentrate fully on my surroundings. Feeling properly awake, I returned to our hostel room and read by torchlight until Mark woke up. We headed down to the lounge and alternately used the computer and tried to figure out what was going on in some of the manga he had bought in Akihabara. With someone to talk to, the next hour went by quite quickly, and by 9:00, the others had woken up.

Yingke was feeling a bit off-colour when he woke up, so he stayed in the room to recover whilst Henry, Mark and I headed out into the bright sunlight. We bought our staple melon bread at the shop next door to the hostel, and an experimental purchase of sweet dumpling's (the sort that Nagisa was so fond of, but without eyes, sadly) and sat down by the river to eat them. After I had finished my bread, and we had collectively come to the conclusion that the bird across the river from us was probably a crane and that none of us really knew anything about birds, I tried one of the dumplings. This was a mistake, as it turned out. I was never quite sure what it actually tasted of, but it had an incredibly rubbery consistency that caused me to retch every time I tried to swallow it. I could hardly spit it out in public, but I did eventually manage to get it down in small parts after chewing it for an awfully long time. Avoiding the amused expressions of the others, I resolved not to eat any more.

It wasn't until 11:30 that we finally managed to actually set off, which was much later than I had intended. The journey to the Golden Pavilion (which was the most complicated journey of our trip and involved three trains and a bus) went much more smoothly than I had expected, however, and this made back some time. We arrived at around 12:30, and walked the short distance to the Golden Pavilion.
The Golden Pavilion
The signpost outside provides a good description of its history. I'll post the image rather than transcribing it (obviously you'll need to view the image in full size for it to be legible):
The history of the Golden Pavilion
In many ways, the Golden Pavilion was magnificent, overlooking a lake with its golden roofs shining brightly in the midday sun. Even the lake and scenery around the temple appeared perfectly and meticulously maintained. It was easy to see why it was a spot so frequently photographed by amateurs and professionals alike; indeed, provided one pointed a camera in the general direction of the pavilion from anywhere in the vicinity, I think one would probably struggle to take anything other than a magnificent photograph. I imagine everyone (including me) was rather glad that my idea of the four of us standing in front of the Golden Temple and acting out the scene from K-ON! that took place there never took off, however.

We wandered around the Golden Pavilion, and then continued along down the path that wound around a beautifully maintained garden. At several points, there were bowls, and we saw people attempting (for the most part, unsuccessfully) to throw coins into them from behind the railings that kept us on the path. We all had a go; I used up my three ¥10 coins on three rather poor throws that didn't land anywhere near the bowl that was our target.
I imagine there are supermarkets less profitable
than this bowl 
When we emerged from the temple, it was lunchtime. We ate at a small udon restaurant whilst we debated where to go next. The choice was between a Ryoanji Temple with a famous rock garden, the monkey park visited by the K-ON! girls and the manga museum followed by Nishiki market (my excessively optimistic programme had, of course, had us visiting all four places). A fierce debate ensued, with tactical voting almost reminiscent of Saimoe and attempts to persuade members of the opposition parties, but eventually, we settled in favour of the monkey park and set off on the fairly long train journey.

A long discussion of both the concept and the storyline of Fate/Stay Night sustained us all the way to the entrance to the Monkey Park. Having paid the entrance fee, we climbed the hill, at the top of which we were greeted by a large crowd of monkeys. After a brief look around outside, we entered the hut to get out of the sun. As in K-ON!, monkey food was sold inside the hut, and the windows of the hut was covered with a wire mesh with gaps just large enough to admit a monkey's arm. They clambered around outside the bars, and we took it in turns to feed them from our hands. Our attempts to feed the one baby monkey were foiled by its mother, who would immediately snatch and eat any food presented to her offspring.

Outside once more, we sat down for a while on the benches and watched the monkeys, who were surprisingly tame and, whilst they didn't actively approach humans, certainly weren't remotely afraid of us. Monkeys are like cats in that they're really quite relaxing to watch, and we stayed up there for a good half hour. When we saw that the sun was threatening to set, and the amusement value of the male monkey who was being groomed by two females had at last been exhausted, we headed back down.
What a legend
Upon reaching the bottom, we found another small shrine, and a rack on which people had hung wooden boards with prayers and wishes. Predictably, there were a good many Kyoani and K-ON!-related wishes (including a rather impressive drawing of Mugi). Henry decided to pay ¥500 for a board, and after some discussion, wished for Maria-sama ga Miteru Season 5 and an animation of the Heaven's Feel arc of Fate/Stay Night, wishes that I heartily approved of.
A sincere prayer
It was dark by the time we reached the hostel, and exhausted from the day's walking, we lay down to rest for half an hour before heading off to supper. I hopefully suggested eel again, and found that Yingke had become a proponent of the idea over the last twenty four hours but the other two were still not keen. We instead asked for recommendations at the hostel and, after being given them and walking for a considerable distance without finding them, we decided to head into a place that served yaki-soba. Unlike udon, yaki-soba has much thinner noodles, and is fried and served without soup. It's very filling, and Henry and I had two portions, whilst Yingke had one portion following a serving of okonamiyaki (a pancake dish that I will explain in more depth on the report for Harajuku, where we went to a restaurant specialising in it).

Satisfied, and starting to feel the effects of being awake since 4:30, I headed back to the hostel with the others and fell asleep before they had turned the lights off.

No comments:

Post a Comment