Tuesday, June 11, 2013


We went to Kyoto over Memorial Day weekend.  It was a fairly painless, 2-hour flight. NO layovers! Woohoo! Here's the Golden Pavilion. It was pretty crowded there, but it was lovely!
A food vending machine. Well, not really. You put in the number of the food you want, pay for it in the machine, and get a little ticket. Then you take the ticket to the counter. Kinda cool.
Here everyone was trying to thrown their coins into a little pot. We missed. Oh, well.
Later that day we went to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Here I'm just gonna copy from japan-guide.com for a bit:

Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It is famous for its thousands of vermillion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.

Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
This was my favorite of the few shrines we visited in Kyoto. The brilliant red-orange colors... all the little fox statues... the many torii gates... the walk through the mountain... and it was free!
Many of the fox statues have a key in their mouths, symbolizing the key for the rice granary.
These are prayers or requests hanging up. You buy the little gate ornament and write your prayer on it, and hang it there. 
Same with these little fox heads, but they're cuter. They all had the angry eyebrows already drawn on, but then the rest of the face was blank and one could add features or just write on it. But, alas... they always looked angry...
There are trails up the mountain (also named Inari) that are lined with these torii (gates). Each one was donated by a Japanese business at some point, to help ensure its prosperity.  Here are two trails. We took the one to the right.  And you can barely see the one on the left... just imagine them.
Here we left the torii trail, and took a little detour through a foresty area.
First it was a bamboo forest!
It was really beautiful. And so very restful. We saw very few people up there.
Then the trail we were on wound through a normal, deciduous forest, and brought us back to the gates farther along their trails.
Some smaller shrines.
Fushimi Inari shrine was really a neat experience.  I almost wished we had enough time to go back to it before we left Kyoto!
We went to a totally touristy Ninja restaurant for dinner one night. It was wildly expensive (for our normal budget) but the kids loved it, and the food was pretty darn good.  It billed itself as having a labyrinth, so we thought we got to try and find our way through a ninja maze, but really it was just the cavey interior, and it was a bit windy and maze-like as they led us to our "cave." It was fun, though!  The waiter/ninja brought us throwing star crackers to snack on.  Amazingly, no one threw them. Everyone was too hungry.
The kids got a kids' meal with a variety of foods... Here Maeve is quite successful at chopstick-ing a sausage. There was also potato salad, some fries, along with Japanese food, like a couple of pieces of sushi and some corn/rice thing, and a cabbage-y salad. And a big 'ol prawn. They liked most of it a lot!
One of the pieces of sushi had a big fat chunk of raw salmon on top. It's that red thing in the foreground of N's plate. Bran just popped his all in and chomped it up. I about gagged. To myself. I don't want to turn him off trying stuff just b/c I think it's gross. Unless it's extra-gross. Then I will stop him. 
This is a ninja magician. He came by and performed ninja magic for us. Card tricks, sleight of hand, etc. The kids loved him! He reminded me of Jackie Chan. He was funny. And Asian.
Sunday we went to church at the ward where one of Z's old mission companions lives. That's him, Tatsuo Tokuno, and his family. They were super nice, and their kids are sooo cute! Maeve was in nursery with their 2-yr old boy, and afterwards when we were eating a picnic lunch they brought for us to share, she said, "that's the boy with fat cheeks in nursery! and a fat head." Hehehee... He and his baby sister have very chubby cheeks. And heads, apparently. So dang adorable! I got to hold the baby sis, and she was so squishy and cute!

Ohhh... church... I had a fun experience in Sunday School. Long story short, Z and I sat next to a young man who had some mental problems and was extremely friendly. He spoke English, and wanted to talk to us.  He told me several times, "I love you..." and "you are beautiful..." in a throaty semi-whisper. His dad kept smacking him on the arm to get him to stop. It didn't work.  He ALSO kept kissing his fingers and then stroking my arm with them... I was trying so hard not to laugh... Z whispered to me, "go to the bathroom and don't come back!" but I didn't want to be rude!!!  So I stayed! The young man (he was 25) did go to the bathroom once himself (he told me so, in the semi-whisper: "I must go to the bathroom..."), and while he was gone I DID take the opportunity to scoot my chair closer to Z.  Then he came back and proceeded to flick boogers and toe lint (he took off his shoe and sock) on me. On PURPOSE. I don't think he really ever loved me... sigh...

I was just in hilarious shock! I whispered out of the side of my mouth to Z: "he's flicking BOOGERS on me!!!"  He also flicked them on Z's friend, who was behind us, when he tried to stop him. And I didn't actually see a big green booger land on me, just to lower the grossness factor slightly.  It was more that he was picking his nose and whatever small stuff he got, THAT'S what he was trying to flick. Not that that's really better, I guess... And Z says that in Priesthood he flicked them at almost everybody, causing a few older gentlemen to flinch. Z was out of the flick zone.

OH! I know, this is going on too long. But my favorite part... hehehee... So, I kept trying to just read my Ensign, since I couldn't understand the lesson, and he kept trying to get my attention in various ways.  WELL, during the opening prayer, I was of course being reverent, but I could FEEL eyes on me, so I ever so slyly peeked one eye open, and BAM! Total eye contact with this fellow! He had leaned way forward with his elbows on his knees, and then craned his head around to stare right at my face. I shut my eye and just started doing those full-body, silent-laughter shakes. Seriously, imagine someone just staring intently RIGHT in your face during a prayer. Big eyes... intense expression... the works... Oh man... I wasn't annoyed at all, honestly.  I mean, he obviously had some issues, and it's not like anything he was doing was really affecting me (did I just say that? Boogers!).  The whole situation was just greatly amusing.  Next time Z gets to pick our seats.
After church we walked around another shrine near the little apartment we were staying at. It was lovely weather out, and a really pleasant evening.
Z and a big turtle statue.
The kids found a big gravelly area to play in. Bran was practicing ninja moves. Kids and rocks. Put 'em together and life is good.
On our way out the back gate from the temple, we crossed over a little river and had to stop and watch the oodles of turtles. They were everywhere! One huge one popped his head up, and we could tell he was hoping for some grub, but we had nothing. Alas.
Then we ate at a ramen place. Ooooh, deliciousness....
The little alleyway leading to our apartment.  See how we're cleverly illustrating how narrow it is? There's actually a shot of me trying to stretch my leg across, but it is one that no one wants to see.
Our little apartment. We all slept on two big mattresses in the loft. It was really fun and comfy! It made our house here seem HUGE!
We packed up our car the next morning, and then headed out to do a few more things before paying exorbitant amounts of money on the toll roads (only $40. Each way.) to get back to the airport.
One of those things we did was stop at ToysRUs, because sometimes you do that when you have kids. THIS ToysRUs had more than just toys, though.  You could buy a rhinoceros beetle! We didn't. But he is very cool.  You could also buy a tiny glass bottle with itty bitty shrimp swimming around. 
Oh, THIS! This is my morning curry bun.  It was so, so, so, so, SO delicious! Just curry sauce inside a soft roll. The little white flecks on the outside are just toasted bits of bread.  The kids all loved it, too. And Z of course. YOU WOULD, TOO! I needed to be in Kyoto more mornings, just to have more opportunities to enjoy this curry roll! 

Then, with the important ToysRUs trip (Bran got a Transformer with part of his souvenir money. At least the instructions are entirely in Japanese. Though he figured it all out by himself in the car, good man!) and the curry bun run behind us, we went to one more shrine.
This one was up a big hill, past a large graveyard, filled with haka, or family graves. People are mostly cremated here, and their ashes are placed in the family grave. 
More hanging prayers. These ones have boats painted on them.
Many people in Kyoto wear traditional clothes in the springtime. We saw lots of lovely kimonos, on men and women, and young girls. Nuala loves kimonos and really, really wants one.
A group of Japanese girls who "kawaii"ed the kids. "Kawaii" means "cute" in Japanese, and if you are small, you will hear it a lot.  
We passed this fella on our way down from the temple. Z was just snapping some pics of the kids looking at him, and we didn't realize till later that they were fondling the poor guy.  And giving him a titty-twister.  Sigh. Americans.


Tara said...

Kyoto sounds really cool! Did Bran know what the salmon was before he ate it? Good job not prejudicing him against it. The weirdest things happen to you, it seems. Especially when you go to church in foreign countries. I love the picture of the three kids standing on the pillars.

Shannon said...

I love the picture of Nuala with the two girls in Kimono. Also the titty-twister pic. Have you guys gone to a bath house yet?

pauline said...

Glad you got to go there ... I'm pretty sure Kyoto is where Grace Johnson (in our ward) is going on her mission. It has beaut golden shrines...I loved the bamboo forest too... and the other lush green one ... those are nice contrasts to the busyiness of the other wonderful attractions. HahahaHAhaha... the young man at church ... I had lotsa good laughs at that whole scene!!! Hmmm, the curry roll looks kinda chunky ... congealed (!) curry sauce? But, yes, I would love it too. Maeve is managaging well with the chopsticks, and the food looks so nice and colourful (even if some IS raw... but obviously healthfully raw...) Oh the ramen food spot looked great. I like N's cute bujeans with frilly bottoms ... and I like B's red panda/ninja bear t-shirt too. Lovely pic of B&M w/arms around ea other walking in graveyard... oh yes, the kimonos are so nice and colourful ... I wonder if they usually wear socks with those types of shoes. You all look great... thanks for sharing that post... love, Mom (Dad too) xox

Ben Ford said...

I absolutely love the long-form posts. I devour them like a good book.

zachariah said...

It's funny that Nuala and Bran are almost as tall as the group of middle school girls that kawaii'd them. Great post!