Sprint Japan

A couple of weekends ago a friend of mine from LA came to visit me for the weekend. Yes, for the weekend. We were IMing one day and I asked him when he was coming to visit. At that time I thought my days here were numbered (now, I think I have gotten extended again but I have no paperwork to support that) and he was going to the East Coast for work in the Fall, so he hopped on line and bought a ticket. For a weekend. Cool, I say, always glad to hace visitors.

So what do you do in a weekend in Nagoya? Go other places! Hey, if you only have from 8:00 pm on a Friday until Noon on a Monday, why should we just hang out in my apartment / cave in Nagoya. If you had two days what would you do? We went to Kyoto on Saturday and Tokyo on Sunday. The old, the new, and some expensive transportation costs.

For Nagoya-ites, of course the first night I had to take him to Yamachan. Nagoya tebaski, it doesn’t get any more Nagoya than that other than maybe kishimen. It was a hit.

Saturday morning we hopped on the shinkasen and went to Kyoto. I have several variations on the same itinerary. We checked out Kyoto Station, then visited Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, and Gingakuji (with a stop at Omen restaurant). Instead of Higashiyama and Kiyomizudera, with took the Gion option. That turned out to be very interesting. Back to the train station, Nagoya, dinner (my favorite ramen) and then crashing hard.

Kyoto Station –

Cavernous Kyoto Station

The taxi stand outside the station


What makes a terrace happy?

Everyone wants a happy terrace


I’ve described Kyoto many times before, here, and here, and here. I’m not going to describe it all again. I will say though that this is the first time I’ve ever been here in the late Spring. I’ve been here for sakura and fall colors, but never this time. I think Kyoto is beautiful in all seasons, except for maybe the dog days of summer. Well, even then it is probably beautiful but the heat is likely too oppressive to remotely enjoy it. I was carrying two cameras, so I decided to use my “big” camera and shoot only black and white. I used my soon-to-be-deceased point and shoot for color. That’s what I thought anyway. The leaves were remarkable.

Fresh leaves at Ryoanji

Lush green-ness in Kyoto


To get a little off topic, I have been shooting in RAW with the option to save a JPG of the image as well. I shot RAW because it is the pure sensor output – no processing by the camera. Well, when I loaded my images in to Aperture, I only saw color. I guess Aperture, although it had both the RAW and JPG, only chose to display the RAW so everything was in color! I went searching for the black and white, found them, but it was harder to preview them. The cool thing is that there are a few pictures I shot that are more interesting in color so I never lost that data. But now editing and browsing in Aperture is a little difficult. I haven’t fallen in love with Aperture and don’t know what it actually gives me. Even the directory structure got all messed up.

So, as I said, I shot in black and white mostly, and for this blog entry I’ll try to remain true to my assignment. However, I did shoot some in color and there might be a few that I will allow myself to start with the RAW image because, well, color was better.







Ryoanji carving


Which way? The usual route, but please do not touch the trees.

The usual route


Do NOT touch the trees


As Aaron is just a child and a triathlete at that, I figured we could walk from Ryoanji to Kinkakuji. It was swarming with folks of course. I’ve saturated on Kinkakuji quite honestly but it is a must stop for first time visitors. It was school trip time, so the place was crawling with junior high students. We were “interviewed” by some students and that was pretty funny. When they asked where I was from and I answered, “Nagoya” I think they were a little confused. Heh heh.

A few pictures from Kinkakuji –





And the swarming students at Kinkakuji (and Ginkakuji) –





We caught a taxi to Ginkakuji, and stopped for udon at Omen. Stull yummy, the first restaurant I ever went to in Kyoto. Thanks Kevin. Ginkakuji was really nice this time. The renovation was complete and the grounds were beautiful. We did a little of the Philosopher’s Walk as well.





Ginkakuji detail


The curtain of the udon shop.

Omen oden shop


I thought we’d go to Gion next. I’ve never really wandered around the Geisha district. When I was in Kyoto with my family, a taxi driver took us through that area. We decided to walk through andenjoyed the old school flavor. How much was old and how much was made to look old I’m not sure. While we were walking around we say a Maiko walking down the street. I felt a little guilty but I snapped a picture. There was a westerner basically just running in front, taking a load of pictures, running in front, taking pictures, and so on. I thought it was a little bit rude. We wandered around a little more and kept bumping into Maiko. We saw an old すけべ Japanese guy chasing Maikos as well so I didn’t feel so bad.

Street scenes in Gion,









It's my museum, I'll do what I want


A high school archery club, possibly post event,

Archery team


And finally a Maiko,

Maiko in Kyoto


We decided to walk to Kyoto Station from Gion. We came across another beer vending machine, and this time Aaron could not pass it up. When we got to Kyoto Station, the light was fantastic so I snapped a few pictures there as well.

Aaron buys a beer,

Aaron buys beer from a vending machine


Kyoto station as darkness falls,

Kyoto Station


… and in color.

Kyoto Station at night


We ended the night with a very satisfying Sapporo ramen at the Nagoya train station. We got home and Aaron passed out. Not bad for day 1.

And on to Tokyo

After a great day in Kyoto, Tokyo promised to be even better. We were planning on meeting Tomo and then running around the city together. Except Tomo was too tired to get out of bed so I rearranged our plan – better known as making it up as you go along. We got to our first cool place, I pulled my “big” camera out of the bag and turned it on. Except it didn’t turn on. Drat. The battery was fully charged, and snuggly in the charger in my apartment. Well, luckily I have two cameras. I pulled out my year old point and shoot and powered it on. Except it didn’t power on either. It had its battery. So Tokyo was captured on the iPhone camera. Oh well. The bad thing is I ended buying a new battery for the point and shoot, and the problem still existed. So I bought a new charger. Still won’t power on. So I guess the camera is just dead. I really don’t want to buy a new one here because they are more expensive (yeah, go figure) but I’ve paid for half a camera just trying to get the broken one working.

We first went to Harajuku / Meiji shrine and looked at the Goth. Where did everyone go? I guess I’m 15 years behind the times. Aaron declared he was temple / shrine saturated. That didn’t take long. We wanted to check out a bicycle shop nearby so we walked through Yoyogi Park. I had never been there before, and its HUGE. We checked out the remarkably tiny bike shop and walked down Kitayama to Shibuya. We found conveyor belt sushi so lunch was solved. We were meeting Tomo at Shibuya Station and ran across a festival in the central part of Shibuya. With bon odori and everything. What the heck? It was a strange site.

Once we met up with Tomo we ran some errands and wandered up to Omotesando / Aoyama. We did the usual Prada building gander, and walked through A Bathing Ape. At that point, we all declared it was time to sit and chill. Aaron and I had been walking for days on end. We went to the Paris priced Anniversaire café / wedding factory and had some drinks. It was nice actually to sit and watch the people go by while chatting. I love the European café feel and they are few and far between.

We then went to Tsukishima to enjoy monja and okonomiyake. Yum. Tomo is an expert monja and okonomiyake chef, so we had a great meal. And Aaron wasn’t grossed out at all by it. We headed to the Oedo onsen in Odaiba and had a nice soak before catching the last train to Nagoya. What a weekend. Busy, and fun filled.