Monday, sitting on the floor
After arrival, we grabbed something quick to eat (and even that quick turned out to be very good and left for an evening stroll to the Kodai-ji temple. It had been lit with amazing colors, and I managed to use almost all of my 128MB memory card, trying to grab fleeting photographs in the diminishing light. I got perhaps three good shots, and as an extra bonus, a nice picture of Mars next to an ancient temple.
Now, off to the city on bikes.
Around midnight: OK, I would claim that my feet are killing me, but apparently putting them in a nice kotatsu and sipping sake makes them forget such morbid thoughts. Now they are soaking in the warmth of the second most important Japanese invention to date.
Kyoto really is a good city for biking. Even though you couldn't travel too fast on them, and they steered like drunken camels, it's really easy to cover a lot of ground. Most of Kyoto's more interesting sights are on the edge of the city, which means that you can lose a lot of time traveling between them. And the city is mostly flat, except for the East side. Of course, we mostly went to there, since there's the Ginkaku-ji, the fabled Silver Temple. We first went to see the Shogun's Palace, built for Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603.
I have to say that the Ginkaku-ji was a slight disappointment; the Shogun's house (with the nightingale floor!) and yesterday's light display with the garden were far more interesting.
We also accidentally met some other Finns talking loudly outside the Ginkaku-ji: "500 Yen!?! We're not paying that much money!" Someone in the family pointed out - quite correctly - that they had flown in 8000 km, and paid a handsome amount of moolah for the privilege as well, so it would be rather stupid to start skimping now. They finally entered, right after us, and their kid (the one that was not wearing running clothes, the standard Finnish attire for everything) started promptly poking and peeking where one is not really supposed to be poking and peeking.
We spoke mostly English with Erik after that, and tried to avoid our countrymen.
I also learned that my hand-eye-ear co-ordination requires an upgrade, as Erik repeatedly beat me in a "taiko"-game, where the aim is to bang on realistic-looking drums with sticks to the tunes of popular music. It was extraordinarily fun, though... The evening was finished in Ganko, an expensive looking restaurant that we had been tipped on. The bill of the evening was about 90 euros for two persons, but frankly, I have seldom eaten so well. I was already on the brink of becoming full, as the kimono-clad waitresses started carrying in more food. I now know how to eat tohu, bean milk that is sort of cooked at the table, and then eaten with vinegar. Um. The result is something resembling a cross between slightly boiled egg and tofu, and eating it requires some serious chopsticking skills.
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