Jake and Katy visiting (part 3, Kyoto and back)

The bus dropped us off in Kyoto really early the next morning. Dazed and confused we headed to Maccy D’s for a coffee and breakfast. After waking up a bit more I tried to get my bearings and tried to get us heading in a sensible direction, but instead got increasingly frustrated when I kept getting us lost. We hopped on a bus that took us in the opposite direction to where I thought we were going, unaware and exhausted we started to dose off. Luckily I snapped out of my nap when I heard the announcement for the stop by my friend, Andy’s house and I dragged everyone off. We were not where we intended but it was a start. I told Andy we would not be there until much later, and tried knocking on the door, only to no answer. I slid the door open a little and saw they had obviously been partying as there was some guy sleeping in the corridor with sick smeared on his pillow. So, we slipped our bags in the porch and left them to later enjoy their hangover. From his house I was able to navigate us to Arashiyama, the western area of Kyoto. This is a quaint little area set by the river side. Here we went climbed up the not so modest Mt. Arashiyama to the Iwatayama Monkey Park, inhabited by Japanese macaques. The monkeys dominate the area and run around everywhere, groom one another, relax in patches of shade or bicker with one another, completely unabashed by the humans. At the top of the mountain you get a spectacular city wide view of Kyoto, with the added enjoyment of the company of monkeys. There was a feeding area, although, unlike a zoo, people were caged in feeding the monkeys that were running freely outside. While we were there some filming crew were filming some Japanese girls clad in school uniform, as is the norm in Japan, squealing when the monkeys competed over the presented piece of apple. Some are amazingly cute and will just hang on the side of the cage, palm stretched out expectantly and will ever so gently take the food from your hand. From the monkey park we wandered around the bamboo grove and Arashiyama, which is completely merited by its beauty, although I think we were starting to care less and less due to hunger and exhaustion. So, we headed to Gion area for some food and time to sit down, then headed back to Andy’s for a night of rest.

The next morning we got up fairly early to set off for our sight seeing as we had agreed to be back at Andy’s for a BBQ around lunchtime. We first visited Kyoto’s iconic Kinkakuji golden temple, which was nice to see although crazily crowed because of the Golden Week influx. We then went to Ryoanji temple, considered to be the home of one of Japan’s best rock gardens. This is quite a special place, the temple itself is nestled in the surroundings of a large pond and gardens. Once you enter you of course take of you shoes and can perch on a decking area that overlooks the minimalist rock garden. And it really is minimalist. 5 or 6 rocks sit among finely raked gravel. Serious or not, people spend their time contemplating the meaning this garden. We gave it a good 10-15 minutes of long hard contemplating, with probably not much luck at extracting any significance. We then headed back to Andy’s ready for our BBQ. We made some burgers and got some drinks to start what was meant to be a brief interval between sightseeing. Although, as more people arrived the time crept on, and the drink went down. From then we never made it back out again to view some of the sights of Kyoto, instead we got increasingly drunk in the company of Andy, his friends, his housemates, and two other couch surfers, a guy from Czech and a guy from Belgium, who were also staying at his house. For me the night soon became a blur, possibly due to an introduction of “sake beer bombs”, however it was filled with great chat and banter. We even got a sing song from one of the girls. At some point in the night we all hid in between the shutters and pretended to not exist as the landlord came knocking at the door, and Andy did not want to alert him of party activity as there were still tomato ketchup stains around the house from the drunken sauce fight a couple nights before. At some point after buying another 2 bottles of whiskey the booze was too much for me and Andy dragged me upstairs to my pass-out spot. The next day was a real struggle and basically a wasted day for me because of my excruciating hangover. Now I remember the Japanese for hangover, though. Jake and Katy left me to be ill and went off to get some sightseeing done. So I missed out on Nijo castle, which was one thing I wanted to do. I met them later to get a bite to eat and wander around Gion for some last minute shopping and browsing. That night we left Kyoto on another night bus back to Tokyo. I had a great time, although felt like I hadn’t made the cultural effort I should have made in the cultural capital of Japan. Nonetheless Jake and Katy seemed to have a wicked time there, and in retrospect we did get up to a lot.

7 or 8 hours later we were outside Tokyo station really early in the morning. We hopped on a train to Ueno and found a manga cafe to catch a few more hours of well needed sleep. After waking we strolled around the now bustling marketplace of Ameyoko street for a while and headed to Ueno Zoo. We found out that it was free to get in, which was a bonus, however it seemed like everyone else in Japan took up this offer. It was so incredibly busy that to see the new panda resident it was over a two hour queue. Despite this is was a wonderful day and it is always nice to stroll around looking at animals. Towards the evening we headed into Shibuya to get some grub at Shakey’s, an all-you-can-eat pizza place. It is pretty amazing. For ¥1000 you get to eat as much as you want, but also for an extra ¥500 you can drink as much as you want, too. Alcohol and everything. Amazing. Just as well because that evening we were going to see Andy C at the club Womb. After refueling we met up with some friends and went into the club for one last night of devious behaviour. Of course Andy C was wonderfully flawless. It had been a while since I had been to a DnB night so it was nice and refreshing. We left around 4 in the morning as our plan was to go to Tsukiji fish market to see the famous tuna auction. We got in a taxi and were on our way. Although on arrival, for being the largest fish market in the world in was desolately quiet. I asked one of the few people there and he confirmed it was shut. Golden week closure. Dammit. Luckily the taxi driver noticed us looking lost for what to do and did a u-turn and picked us back up. He kindly drove us all the way back to Tokyo station, with occasional detours to give us a little guided tour, all free of charge. Absolutely shattered we slumped on a train back to Kazo. Slightly unfortunately we had arranged to meet up with Teru and his family for lunch that afternoon. So with barely stepping foot in my apartment and with minimal sleep we were back out again. However, it was actually a really nice and well needed meal and afterwards they incredibly kindly rushed all around Kazo with us getting the last minute things ready for Jake and Katy’s departure. Teru drove us all to Kazo station and from there it was goodbye, after an amazing few weeks.

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