I promised a Kyoto trip update and now I am finally getting around to it. Sorry it took me so long, but better late than never!
The whole week started off on Sunday, April 1st at the first ever Nagasaki Yosakoi Event -- and we got to be a part of it! All of our hard work paid off and we danced our hearts out. [BTW, Yosakoi is a mixture of traditional Japanese dance, hip-hop/funk dance, huge flags, and cool hand clappers.] Unfortunately we weren't able to really carry anything around with us, so the pictures that I have are limited to what we could snap...and they are also from Ana (thank you!). Our costumes are super ridiculously fun, with sea-life-like hair, kimono styled jackets, Aladdin-like pants, and fun clappers with strings dangling everywhere. The weather wasn't that favorable, but we got really lucky in out running the rain and having sunshine for our first (of three) dances. The first dance was by far my favorite. We danced by the water and were announced as the "International group" from the kakkoii announcer. At the end, I got one of the necklaces that they give to some of the group's dancers. I guess for a job well done? Very exciting! The second dance was held in the arcade and because the space was so small, only half of our group could dance; but this resulted in the other half of our group cheering very energetically for us. Before I realized it was them, I thought the crowd was really loving us! Haha =) The third and final dance was in the Nagasaki eki (station), which was great because it shielded us from the heavy rains that began to fall. This one was a bit disappointing for me because one of the ladies tugged on my hat to get the streamers uncaught from my jacket, but she pulled to hard and my hat fell off. I was dancing with my hat halfway down my neck...but I ended up getting another necklace! Haha...this time I think it was out of pity because of my hat. ;) And now, for some pictures!
Now, on to the trip part. After Yosakoi, Meg and I still had about 4 hours to kill before our train left from Nagasaki. We ended up seeing Happy Feet (in Japanese) at the nice movie theater at the eki. The seats are really nice there and in that it was the first of the month, we got our ticket at the discounted price of 1,000 yen (about 10 bucks) instead of the usual 1,800 yen (about 18 bucks). We took the kamome train to Hakata and only then realized that our shinkansen (bullet train) didn't leave for Kyoto until 6:30 the next morning (and it was about 22:30 when we arrived). OOPS! But, never fear! It didn't take us long to find an Internet cafe and our accommodations were a lot better than we could have ever hopped for! We paid a little more than 1,500 yen for about 5 hours to "sleep." (Although, I didn't get too much in. You have to have earplugs or be completely exhausted to really be able to sleep, but I will admit that the chair was much more comfortable than the futon we slept on in our guest house in Kyoto.) Look at our sweet arrangements (yes, one person per room) -- what an experience! Also, people sleep in these places all the time. I saw a news report on a girl that pretty much lived at Internet cafes...and she only got a big chair.:
After taking the shinkansen (bullet train), we arrived in Kyoto a short three hours later and were greeted by the following pies after walking out of the shinkansen area:
I was really excited to be back at the Kyoto Eki. Good memories there. I made sure to sit on the stairs and just enjoy it for what it is.
For the first two days, Meg and I met up with Zara and her friend Jesse for a touring of Kyoto. Zara went to school in Kyoto for a year, so she was a great tour guide! I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
MOM! You have a tearoom in Kyoto Eki!! And, also notice the HUGE ice cream sundae. Granted the bottom is just filled with cereal (common for Japanese ice cream sundaes), but look how much ice cream is on top! That's RIDICULOUS! The guy in the background polished one off himself. Shinjirarenai! I hope they gave it to him on the house "Service" style. haha
Ok, so when we went to Arashiyama (one of my favorite parts of Kyoto), Meg and I just had to climb "Monkey Mountain." The monkeys run around freely and although you are not supposed to look at them directly in the eye (because who knows what they will do to you), it was really cool to see them so up close! If you want to feed them, you yourself have to become the caged one. Haha, but aww! Look how cute!!!
In true Japanese fashion...hanami, with the eating and boozing. I love how the Japanese truly appreciate the beauty of the sakura, spring, and really, all of nature. "We are together...together in nature." (hahaha).
See, boozing! But here's the best part about going to the park... it hasn't failed yet. We always get free food! Our group was approached by a bunch of businessmen and they proceeded to give us each a chuhai. Then we found out they they are the ones that MAKE the chuhais they had just given us. Then we drank and did yosakoi under the sakura. :D
The next day at Fushimi Inari -- red torii gates until...well, we didn't even get close to the end of them (even after walking up and down a mountain for about an hour) because it started to rain and it simultaneously got really cold (and this is all I had to wear that day). It was great fun, though! The toriis are really neat -- I love the color, and to see them all so close together like that was amazing!
Ok, then the REAL exciting and fun part came the next day. Meg and I became MAIKO san (Geisha in training). Look at all this make up -- yes, that's me under all that!
Me, Meg, Pagoda, and old man with a disgusted look on his face. Despite all the make-up, there was no fooling the Japanese people. 2 seconds after stepping onto the street, we hear (in Japanese): "Ohhhh so pretty! How cute!! Foreign maiko-san!" HAHA! HOWEVER! The B-E-S-T part was tricking the other foreigners. Two guys who had stopped to look (more like stare) at us were discussing whether or not we were real. After asking a lady IN JAPANESE to take this picture, they came to the conclusion that we were real -- or, at least Japanese. Eeeeeeeeexcellent! This was a great experience and I can honestly say that I have never gotten more stares, "oooo"s and "awwww"s before this! :D
Let's be enjoying kurogoma (black sesame) soft cream!! We ate an impressive amount of ice cream on our trip -- all new and exciting flavors! Sakura (cherry blossom) and matcha (green tea) mix, kurogoma, annindofu flavored soft cream (a popular Japanese dessert that sorta has the consistency of jello -- it's really good), caramel (oh, and what a story behind that one!), Hiroshima mikan (orange), and satsumaimo (sweet potato). Mmmmmm Japanese soft cream, how I <3 you!
The night before we left we went to Tetsugaku no michi (Philosopher's Trail) to enjoy the sakura. We were hungry when we got there, so we had dinner (in which the restaurant smelled like my grandparent's house -- iina!! nazukashii!!!), but then it was dark. However, this made it quite nice because we were pretty much the only ones on the trail enjoying the sakura at night. And, because it is indeed known as the "philosopher's trail," we had some deep conversations...about ice cream. Oh, how wonderful (and amusing) it was! :D
And that was pretty much our 4 1/2 days of Kyoto in a nutshell. I still have to blog on our day trip to Osaka, Himeji, and then Hiroshima, so stay tuned!!! :)