Wednesday, Nov. 22
Woke up at 3:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. This is an all-time low for jet lag. Usually I can toss and turn until about five. After lying in bed and accomplishing nothing useful on the sleep front I decided to get up. The hour lounging had gotten me inspired to work on the fanfic I'm writing, and I wanted to see if I could wander around the hotel and leech some wi-fi. Leeching wifi failied miserable. Working on fic succeeded. Will be introducing canon character Real Soon Now, which means I will post after I get that written and edited. (Yes, I know most of you could care less. Last comment was directed at the two who do care.)
We got going out of the hotel about 6-ish, since they don't unlock the doors before then. I got to go into a part of Kyoto station that I've never been before. (This is saying something; I can give, from memory, the most efficient route between any two points in the station, taking into account escalators, where the traffic jams are, and how many ticket gates are involved.) From there I got to head down a train line I've never been on to a part of the Kinki area I've never been in before. Pretty nifty.
After we got off the train we found out that the bus we needed to take wouldn't show up for another hour. So we killed time by going to a near-by temple that Jan said was on a pilgrimage route. It was most cool. Turns out said temple has the only remaining piece of the castle we were going to see. Lady at the temple said one of the abbots from the temple became the first abbot of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. There was more nifty stuff, but I don't remember it all. Oh, and it turned out that she came in on the same train that we did. We didn't notice her (unsurprising.)
After that we caught our bus up to Tsubosaka-dera. 310 yen for the ride, worth every penny of it. The temple is gorgeous, but it's ways up a mountain. Lovely complex, I highly recommend it. I also recommend grabbing lunch at the little store there, since it was most yummy.
Then we headed up to see the remains of Takatori Castle. It's said to have some of the best remaining structure of a mountain castle. Which means that there are a bunch of rocks for the wall and main keep foundations. It's about a 45 minute to one hour walk up from Tsubokasa-dera. All uphill. On an incredibly badly marked path that is not maintained and in some spots was barely even a foot wide with a steep drop-off on one side. It was quite the experience. Worth it, but not one I'm going to repeat again.
Got back in time to hit Avanti. Failed to get film comic. Failed to find any calendars whatsoever. Picked up an Ultraman comic that appears to fill in some back history, in a fit of pique at not finding the film comic.
Bath that night was entertaining. There was a horde of older Japanese ladies in the bath. They had lots of fun telling Jan and I that we had big breasts (no, really?), and skin like a baby (really?), and looked like we're sisters (no, really not.) It was a bit odd having them sit there stroking our baby skin.
Went up to the room. Copied off photos. Tried to proof read work on fanfic while waiting for photos to copy, but kept falling asleep in the middle of sentences. (Probably a bad sign, but I blame it on having had only four hours' sleep in the past 36 hours relative.)
Thursday, Nov. 23
I've been vowing to get up this mountain every time I've gone to Kyoto for more years than I can count. (Somewhere on the order of seven, probably more.) Finally, it happens.
I slept until 6:30. Was amazed. Got up, got going, had a wienner morning (it was tasty), and hit the road. Managed to have amazing luck catching buses and the like just before they took off. Found out there is no point in getting to Enryakuji from the Hieizan Ropeway before 10, since that's when the first bus is. Do not walk from the Hieizan Ropeway to Toutou (or any of the other complexes on Hiei.) It is just too far. Really.
Zoomed out to Yokawa, the farthest area out, in search of the one building Nobunaga did not burn. Failed to find it at Yokawa. (This is because it's out arouns Saitou, duh.) Met a dog that followed us around a lot. Met a monk who knows the dog. Monk said that the dog was a stray they took in a few years ago that goes and bothers all the visitors to the temple. He seemed to think the dog a bit of a pest (though seemed fond of it all the same.) We thought the dog was adorable.
Walked down a bizillion stairs to see a modern temple that wasn't even open. Regretted this. Figured out the reason we couldn't find the building Nobunaga missed was because it wasn't where we were. Zoomed off to go chase this critter down. Leaving the mountain without finding it was Not An Option.
Found the building we were looking for. Made with the happy dance. (Fortunately said building is far away from where all the people are, so the building was the only thing around to point and laugh. Which it didn't do, 'cause, well, building.)
Caught more stuff at Toutou than expected. Survived going up Deathgate. (I forget the real name, but it was quite a task getting up to it, since it involved two different Death Stairs.) Felt like I had thoroughly earned the goshuuin I got for that place. Headed back down, froze to death in the process.
Back at the bottom, went shopping. Managed to go directly to Animate (this surprised me, as I was disoriented when I got off the bus and have never actually been inside said Animate.) Failed completely to find, well, pretty much anything I was looking for. No interesting trading cards. No interesting shitajiki. And most importantly, no freaking movie film book. Rar! Picked up a CD single of the Moebuis opening and that weird song that plays in the middle. (Wish to report the lyrics for that song are even dumber than expected.)
Visited another bookstore in a fit of... pique-filled desperation? Something like that. Found a Kabuto photo collection I was looking for. Found a book on "99 Mysteries of Ultraman" that is more modern than I expected. (The foreward has a reference to Moebius, though obviously was published before September, since the movie wasn't out before it was published.) Found a book on all the pilgrimages for the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan. Got panhandled. (I played the gaijin card and claimed not to speak Japanese. Dude still bugged me for quite a while even though he spoke no English and made me miss the bus.)
Went back to the hotel. Bathed. Failed to get felt up in the bath. Wrote this. Sleep now.
Friday, Nov. 24
Woke up at 3 AM. Feh. Did get back to sleep.
Lots of in town. First, a visit to Hideyoshi's bits. Located near Chishaku-in (next). Got off the bus and started up hill. Got to the top of the developed section and found the Toyokuni Shrine. Found the stairs to Hideyoshi's grave. Cried. Started up the stairs. Climbed about 10 stories. Hit a gate. Climbed three more stories' worth. Hideyoshi's grave? Up a lot of stairs. A LOT of stairs. Arrived at the top. Found out that Hideyoshi has the biggest memorial we've ever seen. (Compensating much?) Turned around. Went down more stairs than I care to count. Was most sore.
Next, Chishaku-in. Flat. Located across the street from Sanjuusan Gendou, I've been annoyed at blazing by this on the bus for years. Has a very nice garden. Is first temple on Kyoto 13 Buddha pilgrimage (Fudou Myouo) and #7 on the Shingon 18 Honzan (head temple of 18 sects of Shingon Buddhism) and #20 on the Kinki 36 Fudou. Lots of Fudou. Very nice garden. Pretty fall color. Came, saw, got goshuuin. Took forever to get goshuuin since a ton of Japanese people showed up while we were waiting for ours. Jan managed to get both the Kyoto 13 goshuuin and the 36 Fudou one. I ended up with line cutters, so I waited to get my 36 one. Was very polite to the guy doing it (since he had been writing out goshuuin for, like, 20 minutes) and he gave me and Jan a freebee goshuuin. Niftiness!
Had lunch. Most tasty grautin. Must eat there more often.
Went to Rokkaku-dou, which contains the Belly-button stone that marks the geographical center of old Kyoto. Got goshuuin for Saigoku pilgrimage. Wandered by Honnou-ji and said hi to Nobunaga's non-existant bits. (The weren't found after the temple burned.) Walked down to Gyougan-ji, which is near by. Completely floored the attendants there. Little old lady thought it was the most amazing thing that we spoke Japanese and have been to Enryaku-ji. (Actually, they really freaked when we mentioned Nanzen-ji, which is really no big deal, so I don't know what the freak-out was.) Told them we were going to Kami-Daigo the next day. They were in awe. We left, repeating one of our mantras for the trip: Entertaining people everywhere we go with our unique dorktasticness.
Having free time still, we wandered down to Teramachi to pick up a temple on a Jizo pilgrimage. Failed to find attendant. Went to Seigan-ji, which is dedicated to the person who founded Kabuki. Is on a lot of pilgrimages. Unfortunately, we weren't originally planning on going here, so we don't remember all the pilgrimages it's on. Met up with some ladies who also do pilgrimages who were totally floored that we were doing it. They had nifty stuff. One of them had a fan with the seals of all the various pilgrimage temples. I must get one of these. She was most cool, for all that she was shocked that we could read kanji. Whatever. Monk there was nice too. Told them we were going to Kami-Daigo the next day and they were impressed. Lady pulled out her goshuuin for Kami-Daigo and told us it was going to be really awful. Not encouraged. Oh well, knew it was going to be a hike. Repeated our mantra ("Entertaining people everywhere we go with our unique dorktasticness"), then went across the way to get crepes. Then Jan and I split off, her to go back to the hotel, me to get internet access activated. Was successful, but too lazy/tired to go and try it out. Oh well.
Saturday, Nov. 25
Kami-Daigo. Place of many stairs. 2.6 km uphill. Saigoku pilgrimage temple.
We hit lower Daigo first. Sanbou-in has a shockingly lovely garden that they do not allow photos of. Probably just as well, we would have spent forever taking pictures and we needed the time for climbing.
Went to Daigo-ji, got goshuuin. Saw the oldest pagoda in Kyoto, which is the oldest wooden structure in the prefecture. (Dates from 951.) Decided to skip other buildings in the interests of getting up the mountain. Climbed.
Climbed some more.
Stopped to rest. Climbed. Stopped. Climbed. Stopped a whole lot more. Climbed a bit. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually arrived at the top. Saw important sign. Wondered where the heck the temple went. Went down a slope and was most sad. (Down = more up later.) Found the temple. It was mobbed. Most puzzling. Other pilgrimage temples that are times easier to get to aren't this mobbed. Got goshuuin. Met lady who was very happy to see foreigners who speak Japanese. She talked really fast. I was most surprised that I understood most of what she said even so. Went down.
Arrived at the bottom and recited our main mantra of the trip: My butt better be smaller after this. This being a special temple we added the additional chant, "My butt damned well better be smaller after this!"
Headed home. Am currently flopped on the floor watching sumo wrestlers bang each other in public while waiting for Moebius episode to start. Will try to get onto the internet after.
Figured out part of why I love coming to Japan so much. This place is one long string of eye candy. Pretty temples, pretty gardens. Lovely cars I can't see at home. (Okay, except for the Ferarri I spotted yesterday and again today.) And Japanese guys? Mmm. Sitting on the subway is like walking down the street. I just wait a while and a pretty goes by and I go "oooh!" I like.
Note two: I forget. This space left intentionally blank.