Monday, March 24, 2008

Kyoto, Day 2

Much as I'd like to wrap up my Japan travelogue in one last post, there's still too much to cover in one sitting (despite the fact that there are only 2 days left to recount!), so let's move on to our second day in Kyoto (Sunday, March 16th).

Sunday Phil and I met with another friend I met through Ravelry, Kimiko (aka chemmy), her husband Gaku and her dog Uzulla, and they took us to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, a huge shrine complex that spans over a 4 km trail (we didn't walk the entire 4 km, we were too beat from Saturday!). The shrine is one of Japan's favourite shrines devoted to the goddess Inari (goddess of rice and prosperity), and is covered with thousands of red toriis dotting the cliffs (when a prayer or wish is granted, the thankful donate a torii to the shrine). It's pretty cool to walk around in these long torii tunnels.
After the shrine, chemmy took us to a 500 year-old needle shop nearby. Unfortunately, they didn't sell knitting needles, but I did pick up some lovely, tiny scissors that will be great for traveling :) After the needle shop, we went to a lovely Italian restaurant (Italian, I know!) for a quick lunch, and chemmy and I surprised each other with yarny goodness: she had knit Maxime a hat and Emilie a little purse (check them out on her projects page) and I gave her some of my favourite yarn ever, some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in the Northern Lights colourway. It was hard to part with (Waaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!) but the look on her face when I gave it to her made it quite worthwhile.I had also given Jun (aka Tricoquelicot) a skein of Cider Moon Flurry I had brought with me as a thank you for taking me on the yarn crawl in Tokyo, but didn't want to blog about it for fear that it would spoil the surprise for chemmy.

After a really quick lunch, we had to run to the meeting place for the bike tour I had booked that afternoon. Though our time with Chemmy and her husband was short, it was another lovely experience, and we got to see something we wouldn't normally have been able to see. I'm truly thankful to them both for taking the time to meet with a couple of total strangers and accompany them on a tour of their city. Again, knitters rock.

So as I had mentioned before leaving, I had booked us on a bicycle tour of Kyoto. I'd never been on a bike tour, but I thought it would be a fun way to see the city and see things off the beaten path (we booked the Mystery Tour). We met with our guide, Keiko, and her assistant guide, Sachi (I can't believe I didn't take a picture of them!!!!!), and were delighted to discover that it would be just the four of us on the tour. It was loads of fun, and just the thing after a loooooong day of walking (Keiko just laughed and shook her head in disbelief when we told her what we'd done the previous day). And can you believe it? We went all the way to Japan, only to ride bikes that were made in Quebec (See? It's a Louis Garneau mountain bike). Unbelievable.We visited many parks, shrines and temples that were off the beaten path, but my favourite (and Phil's) had to be Kitano-tenmangu, which enshrines the patron of learning in Japan. It was a little crowded, mainly due to the fact that Japanese students were starting their examinations and had come to pray for success, but also because the lovely plum/apricot blossoms were at their peak. It was really, really great.(In case you were wondering, Phil's holding yet more octopus balls in that picture. He really loved them. Me? Not so much.)

We wrapped up the tour at the Imperial Palace park, an insanely large park that surrounds the now empty palace (the imperial family have moved to Tokyo). Here we are, posing in front of the main gate, which can only be used by the Emperor or Crown Prince (even the Empress has to use the side door).When we were done, we reluctantly gave our bikes back and headed out to dinner. We were planning on wrapping up our trip to Japan by going to Nara the next day, another "can't miss" city about an hour out of Kyoto.

By the way, in case anyone is wondering (and reading all the comments), Yes! That is indeed the very same Yuko I gave my beloved socks to in Akita, leaving comments on the blog. As an afterthought, I had put the blog address on the little thank you note I had written her, and I've been delighted to find that she's been reading. If you're still reading this, Yuko, send me an email at tlandryca AT yahoo DOT ca (replace the at with @ and the dot with .), and I can answer your questions by private message. But to answer your question now, yes, I absolutely loved Japanese food. It was food heaven, actually. Rice and/or noodles at every meal, including breakfast??? Heaven. :)


Anonymous said...

I'm a bit breathless over how cool it is to go on Ravelry, look up Chemmy (who I don't know) and see her projects knit for your little guys. It feels like such a community. Very cool. Very kind. You parted with some quality wool and projects while you were there. Also very kind.

And ENVY over the blossoms. (not so much the octopus balls, I think)


Knit & Purl Mama said...

That's some nice gifts that you got for the kids! Very thoughtful of them.

That's hysterical about the Louis Garneau bicycle! Only the best.