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kyonoki - 京のキー

Holding open doors

Rhod and I were discussing the rather minor issue of 'door opening', the other day. Generally speaking in England people open doors for others, in Japan and America (again generally) they do not. Now this is fair enough. I have two arms and am perfectly capable of opening a door myself. In practical terms, what does it matter? Well although it is a small thing, maybe it actually shows us a lot about culture.
Simply put, American's understand that there is someone behind them, but equally understand that the person can open the door perfectly well without having it held open for them. The Japanese do not see the person behind them. OK, forgive me these sweeping generalisations. Not everyone in Britain would hold a door open, and there are many in America that would. But Japan is another kettle of fish. This is not rudeness or selfishness, it is a built in part of the culture. You do not see what is around you, you concentrate on your own micro-bubble. In this way you do not lose your mind in the frantic, overly-loud, overly-crowded modern world. It's self defense.
From this basic fact stems a lot. The Japanese look like bad drivers, they often do not move out of the way for others and line jumping is not uncommon. So on and so forth. I make no criticism, just observe that Asian culture for many reasons ignores anything but the self (and by extension, the family). Looking at the over-population, the lack of space and congestion it is easy to understand how this 'selfishness' has developed. But from the simple act of not holding open a door runs a potentially dangerous path. Ignoring the world outside surely leads down a slippery slope of isolation, when perhaps it would be better to take an active part in shaping the world around us.

31 08 06 - 08:16 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

And you thought Misako was the only one who could surf

This photo was taken in a pond close to Kofukuji Temple in Nara. I have seen turtles sunbathing for warmth before, but never piggybacking to absorb more of the sun. Really does look like the little bugger is surfing.

30 08 06 - 14:55 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Last of the summer festivals

The weather will hold, but summer is well and truly over. We caught one of the last of summer's festivals with Erina, Dale and Kitty in the leafy suburbs of Kameoka. Work blues are going to well and truly beat me up this week, not helped by my growing homesickness (British TV damn you). For now it's time to start looking forward to cooler evenings and days when I don't have to keep changing sweaty T-shirts.

26 08 06 - 17:48 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


Karaoke in Japan is not a drunken stumble on to a stage to murder a song in front of an audience. It is a way to let out emotions that you would otherwise be expected to hide. A way to sing through your anger, your heart-ache, your joy, your sadness, your love. You hire a room and with a small group can perform to your contentment (often with beer flowing). The thing is...karaoke is not about the drink, not about being drunk. For the Japanese it is all about the song. You sing as well as you can, not to make an exhibitionist of yourself. (Kitty is laughing at Rhod's rendition of Macy Gray in the photos).

My friend Kate used to slip away at lunch-time for a coffee and a sing at her local parlour, practising and releasing all the tension and anger of the day in a burst of ballad singing. Others of my Japanese friends often spent their high school days rehearsing certain songs they could later feel confident enough to sing in front of a group.

So it should come as no surprise that Kitty (barely 2 years old) already has a repertoire of songs for karaoke. In fact her handling of a microphone puts me to shame. That she should know the word microphone in her limited vocabulary is very, very endearing. Because I see so many kids in my work I really don't pay much attention. Yet I guarantee you Kitty's rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow would melt your heart.

Sleep finally takes down Kitty in these pictures after amazing renditions of the Anpanman and Totoro theme songs. Rhod crooned his heart out to the little lass to no avail...she did not stir. It's a shame she missed her parents rapping away to a Japanese hip-hop group, but I do have it on film.

26 08 06 - 17:32 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Surf's up

A very bruised and achey Misako came over this morning for a mammoth session of Sex and the City, which she has never watched before (how?). I wonder if it translates well to Japanese though. Lines like 'It's a dog not an oracle' and 'It's my clitoris, not the sphinx!' (I think you've found the name for your autobiography) don't seem as if they will crossover so much. Last week the surf-board she'd ordered a couple of months back was ready, so she picked it up and went to Omaezaki in Shizuoka to catch some waves with Yama-chan. A five hour drive and a lot of practise, rolling around in the surf, and Misako had given her muscles one hell of a workout. Thus the bruises today. Omaezaki is a surfers paradise, with clean beaches and crystal clear waters. The surfers were waiting for the waves to come in, so they could begin a contest, but while they waited Misako started the arduous task of teaching herself the basics in surfing. Looks like a punished body was well worth the time paddling around in the shallows.

25 08 06 - 07:25 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Jessie's farewell bits

Bye Bye Jess.

23 08 06 - 06:07 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Lord and lady of the manor

How are we this grown-up? Buying houses? Congratulations to Louisa and Jason for getting on the property ladder. As you can see it is quite old, set in sweepingly beautiful grounds. Well not quite. For obvious reasons I won't be posting photos of their actual house until they are settled in. Good luck chaps.

22 08 06 - 13:07 - Kieren - Photostory| one comment - §

Hikone and swimming in the oldest lake on Earth

With two trains only to Amanohashidate a day and an open air festival guaranteed to draw in the punters, it seemed best to scratch our plans and start over. Rhod insisted on swimming, and I wanted something a little more cultural than sun-soaking for a day so we ended up choosing Hikone, simply because it had stuck in my mind for some reason. An hour skimming the edge of Lake Biwa by train and we were deposited in the quiet little town with the castle proudly looming over all.

Shamefully I spent the morning acting like an arsehole, growling if I wasn't left alone and chewing angrily on my sweat-towel. Some of it was the clinging and relentless humidity. Part of it was being bummed that Jess was going to be leaving us. A lot of it (aside from my foul temper and lack of sleep) was the ex-pat 'bubble' being burst. Foreigners in Japan live in a bubble most of the time; a not-quite-home, not-quite-holiday state. When people come to visit, it can be a stark reminder that this is not really home. Family and friends live far away. In Japan, mostly due to the language barrier, it is true to say that friends are often thrust upon you, not chosen. You will sometimes talk to people not because you feel a bond with them, but simply because you can. Obviously, this doesn't apply to everyone I know in Japan, and I am really close to a few great friends here (and they know who they are). But because Jess and Arlo visited us (and are great people - people you'd choose to be friends with), it created massive disillusionment and a sudden desire to run to the arms of pals back home.

Psychology aside, after lunch (and Rhod's ever hopeless attempts to get me to pose in front of the camera), we took a taxi down to Matsubara beach. Well, there was sand but truly it is more like a field ending at the edge of the lake. We stripped off (Jess had no towel and no change of clothes despite knowing we were going swimming!) and paddled out into the surprisingly warm waters. As it is a lake there was no icky salt to sting the eyes and the bed stayed shallow for thirty metres or so. There were hidden reeds to contend with, but it was nice to be able to swim in relative seclusion as typhoon weather (well, a few clouds) had driven most people to indoor pursuits so we could relax by ourselves.

As Rhod and Jess bathed in the hot springs, Misako and I supped beer watching the completely empty lake and shadows of mountains on the far shore. Biwa is truly an oddity, exceptionally old and deep. It is the largest lake in Japan and if you squint your eyes enough so that the buildings blur, you might well believe it is unchanged since ancient times, when people would avoid the bandits on the mountain roads by sailing across the waters.

19 08 06 - 12:42 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

As I was walking along the shore, I met a merbeast

19 08 06 - 12:37 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Jessie's temple run

Kinkakuji Jess. Ryoanji Jess. Ninnaji Jess.
Pagoda Jess. Giantess--in-the-doorway Jess. Myoshinji / Pink lady-bike Jess*

17 08 06 - 10:09 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

At one with nature

Not a day goes by when we don't pack up our rucksacks and go frolic in a river. We discussed where to go over drinks and decided that because of the holiday season Biwa would be too crowded and dirty, the sea too far, and the Hozu annoyingly bothered by river police. Then Rhod remembered the small river than runs along the foot of Mount Hiei. Armed with rubber rings we walked down the shallow river, away from the vast crowds of families noisily splashing and fishing for poor small fish. Slipping and sliding over the algae covered rocks we settled at the edge of a man-made waterfall and stripped off. Although only reaching my chest, the water currents made it easy to swim in. I did more sulking on rocks as I absolutely hated the twigs and grime and slime that had gathered at the river bottom. My punishment...getting incredibly sunburnt. Jess too, despite the suncream. We lunched on the gravel banks, explored the reed beds and jumped up and down on a rickety old suspension (rope) bridge. Drowsily walking back to the old train, we sat drinking beer like trolls under the wooden bridge, while Rhod waded around. A blissful end to Obon.

17 08 06 - 01:58 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


The mountain bonfires on the 16th August mark the end of Obon (the season in which the Japanese travel back to their hometowns to pay respects to the dead and spend time with their mothers/fathers/grandmothers/grandfathers) and the return of visiting spirits to the Netherworld. Think of it as very similar to the tradition of Halloween, when the spirits of the dead return to Earth for a little while...a vacation for the deceased if you like. Except in this case the spirits are not frightening and do not need to be plied with food and kept at bay with carved pumpkins.

The tradition of lighting bonfires on the hillsides is centuries old. They act as beacons to guide the spirits back to their home from ours. It is much like a reminder that they don't belong here any more and the holiday is over.

We spent Daimonji at Mizukami's house, watching from the roof as the giant kanji (chinese symbols) were lit. At 8 o'clock the first bonfires are set alight and gradually the others follow suit until the whole spectacle comes to a close at Arashiyama at 8:20. Short and sweet.

Never before have I had such a good view of the celebrations and managed to avoid the crowds at the same time. Thank you Mizu. Oh, and it was nice to meet you.

17 08 06 - 01:37 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Spot the giant 100ft bonfire

16 08 06 - 16:06 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

The return of Jess

One. One Australian. Waha haaaa. Well yes, it looks as if the Aussie has returned safe and sound from Summer Sonic. Minus Arlo, though covered in his hard love bruises, she will hopefully be staying until it is time to travel on to her new job in Saitama. Already plans are forming to all take time off to travel up to Amanohashidate while she is here. Although with only two trains a day, this may prove impossible. After spending Saturday hanging out with The Cat Empire (a kind of Australian Madness) she was a little travel-worn. Naturally we took her out for a celebratory drink at a local standing bar, where the drink is cheap and the men are mad. Misako taxied over with a lot of sake, wine and beer in her and we mourned the loss of Arlo (in Fukuoka and awaiting a ferry to ship him over to Korea). If you take a look over to the right you will see a link to Jessie's new blog and if you go here you will see a whole bunch of photos that I have put into a gallery. As Jess still gets to grip with blog technology she will maybe not have a chance to post all her photos (thousands already), so if any of her family or friends want to see what she has been up to, they can go to this gallery.

15 08 06 - 17:15 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


Compared to Batman, Superman has always been a harder gig to pull off. Unlike the psychologically broken Dark Knight, Superman exists as an all but indestructible alien force in a bright, cartoony world. Given a choice between the two, I would rather walk the mob-streets of Gotham than the vibrant avenues of Metropolis. Comparing the two is a little unfair, though, as they are essentially from two very different universes, different sides of the same coin. Bryan Singer has proven again that he has a strong eye for cinema (good thing, really), painting an authentic, coherent comic book world filled with characters that although bombastic and larger-than-life, are easy to relate to. If you are expecting extravagant action scenes and pacey drama, better you move on. The majority of this movie is really about Lois Lane being in love with Superman, and these two trying to sort out their issues. Air disasters and earthquakes are seemingly just there to fill in the gaps. The movie has come under scrutiny from some quarters regarding the Christian ideology.I have no problem with it. The origin of Superman is very biblical. A father sends his only son to save mankind from sin. Maybe the images are at times a bit too heavy handed, but at no time is Christianity forced down the viewer's throat. The world of superheroes is ,after all, one of man being rescued by figures they can turn to in their time of need, their saviors. Not a perfect film (where is the ending?), but a confident and enjoyable return for one of pop culture's more cherished creations. Singer has ressurected the Man of Steel for a new generation and done so with a deft hand. Darker than its predecessors, the movie is about as cinematic as I could have hoped for. Sure, it isn't realistic, but then again Superman has never really been anything but fantastical. The casting is spot on, the actors subtly switching between comic and dramatic, and even if you don't buy into the 'who's the father?' subplot, then at least the little moppet won't have you reaching for the sick bag. So alongside Batman, DC's main men seem to have taken centre stage, leaving it up to that web-slinging teenager to try to reclaim his big-screen comicbook hero crown next year.

13 08 06 - 05:39 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Kitty's big day out

12 08 06 - 10:09 - Kieren - Photostory| two comments - §

River olympics

The 'layout'* dive. The 'pike'* dive. Rhod.

12 08 06 - 10:02 - Kieren - Photostory| three comments - §

Fair weather friends

It was genuinely sad to say goodbye to the Aussie duo this morning as they made their way to Summer Sonic in Osaka. Jess may well return for a few more days next week, but Arlo plans to go to Korea for three weeks so it is doubtful he will be back in Kyoto. I think it just goes to show that you can meet good people in the most unlikely of places...and that Rhod's eavesdropping is a good thing. My summer has been a lot more fun than it would have been otherwise (while Rhod is at work that is). Jessie is off to be an elementary school teacher in Kanto at the end of August so hopefully we will be seeing her again. Arlo will be back in Melbourn by October and I like the idea of getting to see Australia sooner not later. J and are your best bits.

11 08 06 - 11:16 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Atlas and art in a hole

10 08 06 - 11:19 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Gedo senki

We grabbed an evening show of Gedo senki, based upon Tales from Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. I am still scratching my head trying to make head or tails of where exactly the narrative went. Unlike Howl's Moving Castle, I decided not to read the book the Ghibli movie is based on as last time it confused the hell out of me. Knowing very little probably helped, but it occurs to me Miyazaki Jnr. made a mistake in starting with the third book of a series and like Howl was far too ambitious for its own good. So many threads of the story were unexplained or inconclusive. Not knowing Japanese made no difference whatsoever. I really enjoyed the first 30 minutes until things slowed down and humourlessly the movie dragged along until a climactic battle with a convenient contrivance added on. Disappointing, but in a whole other playing field from Disney, Dreamworks and their clones.

09 08 06 - 16:18 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


I am eating my words after saying that 16 hours stuck on a bus would not be worth the effot just to see the Nebuta Matsuri. Misako, Akko and Eri took the red eye bus to Aomori (about as far north as you can travel in Japan without hopping over to Hokkaido), caught a few winks and then stripped off into festival yukata. Thanks to Misako for the photos. Because of a friend of a friend they were able to take part in the parade, joining a troupe of dancers attached to one of the giant floats. I'm still not sure that 32 hours on a bus for 8 hours of festival isn't insane, but I doff my cap.

09 08 06 - 10:11 - Kieren - Photostory| three comments - §

The Karate Kids

Miyagi: Karate come from China, sixteenth century, called te, "hand." Hundred year later, Miyagi ancestor bring to Okinawa, call *kara*-te, "empty hand." Daniel: I thought it came from Buddhist temples and stuff like that. Miyagi: You too much TV. Daniel: Why didn't you tell me? Miyagi: Tell what? Daniel: That you knew karate. Miyagi: You not ask. Daniel: Well, where'd you learn it? Miyagi: Father. Daniel: But I thought he was a fisherman. Miyagi: In Okinawa, all Miyagi know two things: fish and karate. Daniel: Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier? Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything. Daniel: Ever catch one? Miyagi: Not yet.

09 08 06 - 09:59 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Recent Blog Overload Digest

Hello lovely reader types. I apologise, but recently Kieren (your devoted and rarely photographed main blogger here at Kyonoki) has gone a bit overboard with the posts. He's even done some weird time shifting. As such, you will have missed some more noteworthy posts buried under more ramblings about starfox and gubbins. So here, for your convenience, is a nice way to view the best of the last fortnight in a few simple clicks. I hope you're enjoying all of the active holiday shots. We've certainly been enjoying taking them. I'm back at work now - boo - but it's all slow paced and I'm able to relax a lot more. Hurrah for future happyblog!

First up - our law-bending trip to the river with Misako.
Next - a summary of our short-but-sweet break in Kanazawa. Also see the lovely Kanazawa Galleries (really, quite lovely).
Next up - more photos at the river, this time with random-strangers-turned-new-friends Jess and Arlo. All action shots! Much joy!
Finally - our happy tour of Kiyomizu Temple, given by some local uni students who wanted to improve their English. Also, great galleries of said tour.

07 08 06 - 16:09 - rhod - Photostory| No comments - §

Pamplona Kameoka

First of all I want to say that the reason I went to Kameoka was not for fireworks, but to see the lovely Erina and Kitty (who was very fetching in her yukata) so this was not some masochistic trip to get my kicks. I really hate this fireworks festival and could have turned back at the station waiting for Rhod, but thought it would be nice to visit Dale's family. After a hellish hours journey it was nice to relax by the small park next to Erina's house and watch from a distance. The photos are not great, but you get the picture. The fireworks were thunderous and luminous, beautiful and brash. But the whole fifty minutes experience is humid and sweaty, noisy and stressful. Unless you live in Kameoka, you are mad to venture out into the countryside. Imagine yourself as some Pamplonan bull being channelled into increasingly narrow streets crowded with the hullabaloo of crowds who are all out to jeer and push and shove at you. Sardined into a train like the poor sheep you see crammed into trucks while driving the European autobahns, you tumble onto the station only to be assaulted by a handful of station guards barking orders. Mix this up with food stalls jarring the throughway, an impossible amount of people (families halting and blocking the fast lanes), ridiculous rules and you get one big mess. Because Rhod and I don't have hive-mind, the whole thing just seems horrific. Kameoka Fire Festival I give you two fingers.

07 08 06 - 15:29 - Kieren - Photostory| one comment - §

New Official Starfox Site

Sorry to go on....

06 08 06 - 05:07 - rhod - Photostory| No comments - §

At the Copa

Karaoke...shudder! Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there... She would merengue and do the cha-cha, and while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar... Across a crowded floor, they worked from 8 till 4, they were young and they had each other, who could ask for more?
His name was Rico, he wore a diamond, he was escorted to his chair, he saw Lola dancin' there... And when she finished, he called her over, but Rico went a bit too far, Tony sailed across the bar... And then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two, there was blood and a single gun shot, but just who shot who?

06 08 06 - 03:59 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Wham bam thank you mam!

Do not... ...try this... home.

06 08 06 - 03:50 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Furry hero

Two years in the making, a steep learning curve, a nightmarish schedule, a final product we can be genuinely proud of. It's really done, and on shelves from today in Japan! Reviews should start to pour in soon enough, and sales data early next week, but really none of that matters to me. I'm happy with it, and I really like playing it.
I lost to some random strangers across Japan today via online play. Using the controls that I coded... Ho-hum. I won two rounds, so at least I wasn't obliterated. If you want to play starfox online with me, send me your friend codes when you OBVIOUSLY BUY IT. Ki: It is pretty cool to walk into a shop and see all Rhod's hard work out there on the shelves. I'm a bit pissed that Rhod had to buy a copy of the game he helped to make (fingers being pulled off the keyboard by Rhod now), but it is a fun shoot'em'up. I don't normally play this kind of game, but have been enjoying it nontheless.

05 08 06 - 10:19 - Kieren - Photostory| two comments - §

To jump off the stage at Kiyomizu

As we wandered through the sun-blasted paths of Higashiyama with Jess and Arlo, a group of university students in yukata asked us if we wanted to use them as tour-guides around Kiyomizudera. Out of their own pockets they took us around the temple and explained about the history of the place. They are all studying at Kansai Gaidai University, first and second year students, all members of the ESL club and interested in speaking English. They came to Kiyomizu in their free time as part of a project to make the temple more accessible to foreigners. We had a lot of fun with them in the extraordinary temperatures (38 degrees), trying to pick up the 120 pound steel pole the legendary Benkei was supposed to have carried with him on his travels, drinking from the three natural springs and attempting to walk between the Love Stones. And man am I sunburnt...very foolish.

04 08 06 - 11:32 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


More than 100 people have been trying to get the 10-ton Rhodrivocous whale off the banks of the Hozugawa with tugboats and a net. Experts sat it is a young male about 2 metres long, and weighing 10-tons. They fear its body temperature might get too high and damage its organ. It is thought that it probably beached itself after getting tired following a long swim. Volunteers are using a net to try and save it. There is also a chance that the Rhodrivocous was confused by sonar. Whales use sonar to navigate, and they could be getting confused by signals from ships. With its distinctive pasty skin, the creature has become a minor celebrity in the shallow rapids of the river, with tourists hiring boats to see the whale up close. Whatever the reason, time is running out for the Rhod.

03 08 06 - 11:19 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Uses for a river

1) Scavenge a boatman's pole from the river and use it to shore up a dam. 2) Build up your dam by rolling big rocks into the small stream flowing down from the mountain, thus changing the geology of the entire area. 3) Protect your dam from the idiot rafters who see your wonderful creation as a convenient landing point.
4) With the availability of rocks and sticks go Neanderthal. 5) Scare tourists on the river by possessively protecting your rock with abandon. 6) Spear fish for your lunch.
7) Be warned that some fish are quite big and may pull you in. If this happens you should scream. 8) Recreate an atomic explosion -plus mushroom cloud- using only your curled up body. 9) Role play a scene from Baywatch in which a giant moray eel attacks a speedboat and scantily clad women.

03 08 06 - 11:15 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Posing ponses

Ripe for the C&A catalogue I'd say.

03 08 06 - 11:06 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

The grey paparazzi

Never have I seen a more energetic bunch of old people snapping away on their cameras. With that old man cheekiness and cocksure friendliness in spite of language barriers, they quite happily chatted about Rhod's incredibly tall nose (not an insult in Japan) and their love of photography. Unashamedly they started taking our pictures. Again and again and again. All the while laughing and clicking with abandon. In fact they seemed to be photographing everything in their path inanimate or moving. At one point they chased a foreign chap down the street in spite of his protests. Rhod finally turned our camera on them. And they were completely unfazed. Without stopping for breath they pointed out local spots of interest and finally bustled away, leaving us in amused peace. The samurai district wouldn't have been quite so interesting without them.

03 08 06 - 10:56 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Little Kyoto

A real theme of our trip away was realising how spoilt we are in Kyoto for culture, but that it is often untouchable whereas Kanazawa offers a glimpse into worlds we would otherwise be denied. So we sipped gold-flaked maccha in a once-geisha house and paid to wander through rooms once used by maiko to sleep and prepare for their nightly adjourns. It is true that tourism has rubbed away the magic and reality of such houses, but it was still eye opening to cross the threshhold into the heart of Japanese tradition. Likewise the samurai district is other-worldly, but seems to fall short of Kyoto, which has been preserved as an immense open-air museum that you can look at but never touch. It was nice to touch. Rhod and I spent the entire second day submerged in a time-hole, wandering from castle gardens to geisha houses to the grounds of samurai. And in Japan it is quite unusual to feel so completely consumed by history, so glaring does the modern world encroach. Kanazawa is truly a beautiful and relaxing city. My only regret is that we don't have a car and so the spectacular Noto Peninsular was a little out of reach.

03 08 06 - 10:54 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Manipulating water

Kenrokuen Garden is ranked as one of the three top Japanese gardens and hinted to be number one. What is it with the Japanese ranking things into threes? Kenrokuen is said to contain all six attributes of a "perfect" garden: seclusion, spaciousness, artificiality, antiquity, abundant water and broad views. Each turn in a path affords the stroller a different view and it isn't hard to imagine that the place has little changed since its opening a century ago. The garden contains Japan's earliest known man-made fountain as well as various small ponds and paths. Rhod and I kept the throngs of tourists waiting as we worked our magic on the water. Rhod's impression of a whale was quite as stunning as the garden itself.

03 08 06 - 10:46 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §

Even if you forget your lunchbox don't forget your umbrella

Four hours drive north east around the largest of Japan's lakes and along the Sea of Japan (about as close to North you can possibly get on the mainland) takes you to a medium sized city nicknamed 'Little Kyoto'. Since my first visit a couple of years ago, I have moved to Kyoto, so see the remarkable similarities. Except for perhaps a few things...the people are pleasantly polite and feel free to openly gape as if Godzilla had just emerged to rampage in the city. At one time the richest prefecture, producing 99% of Japan's gold and most of the country's rice, it has in turns been a Buddhist Commune and under the sway of the Maeda clan (the second most powerful family after the Tokugawa). Escaping the air-raids of the Second World War, most of the geisha and samurai districts remain untouched. Past its heyday, Kanazawa now ticks slowly along, a small back water city, beautiful but no longer influential. All this makes it the perfect place to relax and unwind. We took a coach, which was was easier and more comfortable than I expected (though it stopped so many times it made me wonder if we could have done the journey in under three driving by car) and took a walk through Kohrinbo (Kanazawa's city centre) before checking in to the APA Hotel next to the rather swank new station (Kyoto take note). Rhod was gleeful as the hotel boasts a whole floor dedicated to saunas and outdoor baths.

03 08 06 - 10:43 - Kieren - Photostory| No comments - §


Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.


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Ki (Gold for wealth, …): Yeah – it had this gaudy,…
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