Kyoto Day 1: Church, Ginkakuji and Iwatayama Monkey Park

July 21, 2009 § 2 Comments

There are so many funny moments and stories that I could tell regarding today but I am going to have to pick and choose for the sake of readability.  I feel this will be a common occurrence throughout the Kyoto portion of my trip.

Although I hadn’t counted on Gomi being available to play with me the whole time I was staying here, it just so happened that she is!  I vowed to help her get some research done and make progress despite the huge distraction that I am, so hopefully these next few days will not affect her work detrimentally.

Today was my first day in Kyoto.  Kyoto really pulled out all the stops for me.  I feel like Kyoto knew that I was only here for a little bit and so wanted to offer me the full range of experiences possible in this city.  I was constantly wet today.  Either from sweat or rain.  In the morning the sun was shining its brightest during the thirty minute bike ride to Gomi’s church.  By the time we reached the building, my arms were already three shades darker and all my sunscreen had rubbed off.

Going to church with Gomi was interesting.  The church was tiny and comprised of mostly grandmas and grandpas so old that their backs were bending and their eyes were dimming.

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The sermon was in Japanese but even in this tiny church, there was an English translation available through a headset and the hard work of the translator.  The translation was actually pretty decent and I was able to get the gist of the sermon.  To be honest, I don’t remember exactly what was said because I was too busy trying not to faint from the heat.  It took me about an hour to cool down from the bike ride and just as I was feeling normal, we had to go out and ride again.

The highlight was when I was asked to stand up and introduce myself after the service was over.  They handed me the microphone and I said, “おはいようございます。私はキンジョアンナです。私は韓国アメリカ人です。でも私は日本語をはなすことわありません。そして。。。” and immediately handed the microphone to Gomi.  That phrase translates to, “Hello, I am Joanna.  I am Korean American.  I can’t speak Japanese so…”  Haha.  Gomi then said some things about how I had graduated and was visiting from America.  It’s funny how often I shock or embarrass Gomi here in Japan. Apparently I used the wrong greeting in my three line intro and should have used a much more formal phrase to introduce myself.

After church we rode our bikes to a nice little restaurant and had lunch.

My lunch

My lunch

Then we went straight to a temple and adjacent garden called Ginkakuju. The whole time I was trying to make Gomi speak in Japanese so I could practice, but she refused to because she thought that I wouldn’t understand (which is probably true).  However, I kept on using little phrases and unintentionally making her bust out laughing because of my poor pronunciation and ridiculous phrasing.   I thought I was so clever by calling her gomibaka (gomibako means trashcan and baka means stupid so I was calling her trash stupid, in the nicest way possible. lol) but then she burst my bubble by saying that many people had already commented on how her surname meant trash.  Ginkakuju had amazing foliage and scenery.  The temple was nice but what impressed me the most was the sand designs.

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The scenery was just so amazing and beautiful.  Kyoto is known for its gorgeous temples and gardens.

After Ginkakuju, we ride the train to the western part of Kyoto to visit Iwatayama Monkey Park.  After remembering how much I like animals, Gomi mentioned how she knew of a place where you could feed monkeys and play with them.  After hearing about that, it immediately became one of my “must-go” places in Kyoto.  To get to the monkeys we had to hike up a mountain and pay a 500 yen ( about $5 USD) admission fee.  However, it was so worth it!  I bought some apples and peanuts at a shack on top of the mountain and fed the monkeys through metal fence type windows.  They only let people feed monkeys while inside the building otherwise the monkeys will just try to get to the food and potentially hurt the humans.  The monkey’s hands were so small and their little fingernails were so tiny.  I would put out a morsel of food and they would grab it with their little hands.  I thought it was hilarious how unexcited Gomi was about the monkeys.  She was a little freaked out and refused to feed them after a while.  She gave a fat monkey an apple (instead of a peanut) telling him that it was because he needed to go on a diet. lol.

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After feeding the monkeys we went outside and took some pictures with the great mountaintop view we had of Kyoto.  While outside we spotted the tiniest monkey of all.  It looked so weak and frail (Gomi kept on saying how it looked like an alien) and for some reason, kept on trying to eat the hose.

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Afterwards it started raining on our way down the mountain but we had an umbrella and figured that it would be alright.  Oh, how wrong we were!  During the walk from the mountain to the train station, my jeans and t-shirt got soaked.  The lady at the monkey park admission fee place gave me a trash bag to cover myself with but I still got really wet.  Then, while we biked home from the train station, it started pouring and lightning kept flashing in the sky.  In the beginning I held an umbrella with my right hand and steered my bike with my left hand but later got too impatient and just biked home with my hat and trash bag cape.

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By the time we got home I was drenched to the bone.  Luckily there was no risk of me getting sick because it was a warm night.

For dinner we bought FRESHLY grilled unagi that just melted in your mouth and ate that with some rice and pickled daikon.  It was kind of expensive for a meal at home but it was deelicious!

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