MP3 track of the day: Way of the Sword - The Last Samurai
Weather: Good; a beautiful day which was pretty warm for November.
Yet again I was awoken to the sound of a child – the same one as yesterday – crying. Why do people have children? All they do is eat, sleep and cry; they are completely helpless and stop you, and others, enjoying themselves. I think that all children under the age of six, no, twenty should have to live on a small island off the mainland (of whatever country the were born in). The same should also happen when you turn seventy.
Anyway I was up and out by 9:00am; I thanked the staff of the Ryokan for a wonderful experience and I went, with all my stuff, to catch bus 206 towards Kyoto train station. As I was sitting on the bus two little boys, sat next to me; they kept staring at the white plastic bag I was holding. It took me a while to realized that my Japanese 'transformerish' model was in the bag and that they were trying to read the box label. I took the box out of the bag and showed them; one of the lads quickly got out his hand-held games console and put a disk into the back. I peered over his shoulder as he flicked through all these 'transformer' photos, some of which I recognized, until he stopped at the photo of the model I had. I asked him if it was good to which he replied yes … as if he was going to say anything else.
The two lads got off the bus two stops after our conversation, the trip then became very uneventful until I reached Kyoto Station. Once at the station I went in search of a locker; first of all I tried the bus station and there weren't any free. I then crossed over to the train station and again there weren't any free there either, added to this the place was heaving with Japanese tourists. It was becoming more and more difficult to remain calm as becoming angry and stressed is a big disrespectful sign in Japan. I made my way to the tourist information office and asked there for any luggage storage; I was told that there was a baggage overflow area around the corner. I thanked them and hurried along only to meet a 'full' sign … whats going on?
To not waste anymore time I headed to the post office, with all my stuff, (and at this point I was pretty sweaty) and I posted off a parcel home. After this I'd pretty much decided that I would have to return to my hostel – forty minutes bus ride away – to drop my bags off and try to do something with what remains of the day. However before I did this I went to the bus station ticket office to see if they had any priority lockers for passengers taking bus services … no. However the lady mentioned another over spill luggage area, within the basement of the train station, and so I thanked her and hurried there just in time to join a huge queue before a Japanese official closed the line (due to no more room). Few, I could now relax … I did feel sorry for all those people who hadn't found any where to put their baggage as it's a real pain. I don't blame Kyoto Station, they have hundreds of lockers and quite a few huge over spill luggage areas; it's just the sheer volume of people here this weekend. I didn't understand why people, coming for the weekend, would be using station lockers as surely they are either here just for the day (so they would only have day luggage) or they would have booked accommodation.
As I waited in the queue to store my luggage I chatted to four old Japanese ladies who, I think, took a fancy to me. They gave me some Japanese sweets which, in return, I offer them some British sweets (hey mum, you can get Werthers Originals over here too!). They said that I was very handsome to which I said thank you; they then said that if a Japanese boy was handsome he would normally be gay to which I, very quickly, made sure they knew which team I batted for.
It was 1pm by the time I had put my stuff in a locker … it had taken me three hours to get my luggage stored and the day was running out rapidly. I therefore headed to my intended target, this market that only happens one day per month. I entered the market to find thousands of Japanese crammed between lines of stalls; I decided that I would try to get lunch there to save time, however there wasn't that much to choose from. I bought a 'corn on the cob', dipped in some lovely sauce, and eat that. Afterwards I looked around the stalls, however nothing took my fancy. Before leaving I went to the men's toilet. Just like in every country in the world, the men's toilet had no queue where as the ladies queue was going around the block. Whilst washing my hands I noticed a few ladies popping into the men's toilets to use the cubicals; no other man battered and eye lid and I must have looked quite stunned, as I walked out of the toilet, as I was greeted by a line of laughing women.
Due to having no lunch, I went for a quick bite at McDonalds before taking a long, long (a lot longer than it looked on the map) walk up to the old Imperial Palace. I walked around the grounds only for a short while because the day was drawing in. Whilst walking in the park I noticed this Japanese lady, in a Kimono, who looked extremely beautiful. Her dress was a beautiful cream color with additional colors to match the leaves behind her; at that moment I thought that she was the most beautiful woman on the earth and I quickly flicked through my guidebook to find the Japanese for 'would you like my mobile number?'. Failing that I instead plucked up the courage and asked her if I could take her photo, which she was glad to have taken. I thanked her and she smiled and waved me goodbye. Getting that photo had made the day for me; I wanted to get a photo of a lady in a Kimono and what a stunner. Again the old and the new mix of Japan was evident in women's fashion; the old kimono makes women look rather stunning and the new short skirts with leather boots has a similar affect … I like Japanese women.
The sun was setting and the street lights were coming on; it was now 5pm and so I headed quickly to another temple however it was shut. I walked around the outside of the temple before making my way to the train station, stopping at a convenience store to pick up tea.
It had been a strange day I thought; I hadn't done a lot but that photo of the Kimono made the whole day for me … a personal goal ticked off. Once back at the bus station I picked up my luggage and just sat and waited for five hours, people watching. Whilst in the bus station waiting room this European girl came up to me and asked if I spoke both English and Japanese (I wish, as I could have given that woman in the Kimono my email address). Basically her, and four friends, had turned up in Kyoto, on the busiest weekend in the year, without pre-booking somewhere to stay. She wanted to see if I had a mobile that she could borrow so she could call some places as she didn't have a phone or a computer. I thought how stupid and, as my phone isn't working in Japan, I said that I couldn't help.
I'm now waiting for my night bus, I hope there isn't anyone on there that snores!