京都 2005.03.21 () - First Explorations

I wanted to just get my bearings, so I went out with this notebook, a map book, my camera, and no real specific plans. I went out across かも河 on 五条通り. It didn't really feel like the ancient city you always read about; all the buildings were relatively new, and there was a lot of cars and noise. Then I arbitrarily turned left towards the 京都 Tower down a small, one lane, one way, no sidewalk street (of which there are many). Before I hit the next cross street with a sidewalk, I'd passed 6 temples! It's a lot quieter on the side streets, as well. The side street I did reach was a T-intersection -- I'd hit the wall of 東本願寺.

Next I walked around the wall and onward to 京都駅; I was going to stop by the tourist information office, but it wasn't open yet. At the station I did find out about umbrella bags -- it's common for shops and temples to have a large set of thin plastic bags to slip your wet umbrella in while being inside, and a large box for putting your bag back when you leave. There are other places that instead have a box or canister by the entrance to leave your umbrella in.

To waste some time before the tourist information office opened, I went down more random side streets to explore -- and I found the Budget Inn without meaning to. The Budget Inn is ran by the same people as Tour Club, which was the first place Justin and I had tried to get a room (they were too full to accommodate our schedule); Lara and Matt were going to be at the Tour Club later. I went in and asked the clerk to show me where I was on the map, and where the Tour Club was as well.

I went by the Tour Club just to see where it was, and then went to the nearby child's play area to take a rest. By then I was wondering where I might find a public restroom. A taxi driver stopped on the other side of the play area, got out, and walked across to a small structure about 20 feet from me. Ah ha! A public restroom!

Open-air urinals. Interesting, and a bit stinky. Don't forget to bring a hanky to use as a hand towel.

After that, I went back to the station to talk to the tourist information people. I hadn't been able to get reservations to see three of the four imperial residences that are open to the public in 京都 online (no places left), so I asked the TIC if there was a waiting list or similar. There isn't, but they told me that I should try going to the くないちょう in person, as the reservations made online and those made in person are completely seperate.

Then I headed back towards the guesthouse. On the way, I ran across a big Buddhist temple, so I stopped to take a look. I went into the temple and some sort of ceremony was preformed. I sat in the proper 正座 fashion; it's not so bad once your feet go numb. After that, I wandered the grounds a bit and found that I was at the 東本願寺 -- inside the same wall that I had passed before! I hadn't seen the temple from where I met the wall.

Next I left and wandered some alleys for a bit, and then made my way back to the guesthouse. Unfortunately I don't remember much about it, but this is when I first met みちる and ゆい, who both work in the guesthouse with えいじ. I also had lunch, and then went upstairs to take a nap.

At about 5:30AM the next day, I woke up...