Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 18

Oh MAN. Day EIGHTEEN. Time flies when youre having serious loads of fun, i guess. Today it hit me that im actually kinda sad to be leaving (SHHH! Dont tell anyone!) Its going to be bittersweet for sure, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that today was SOO amazing!!!

We got up and hauled all our crap to the station again for our last train ride! We got off in Kyoto and went sightseeing first to the Nijo castle. It was beautiful inside. We had to take off our shoes to walk around and as the signs said there was 'No Photographing.' The castle was built from 1603-1626 and the majority of the stuff inside is original. Granted, there wasnt much 'stuff' other than intensely cool paintings and decor. But i think the floors were original. Theyre called 'nightengale florrs' and were a security dealio. When you walk on the outer floors of the castle there is a very distinct squeak/squeal that sounds. Its not LOUD but its definitely noisy and soudns like squeaky metal rubbing against more squeaky metal. Back in the day it was a way to catch creepers and stop them from creeping!!
The gardens around the castle were glorious. There were bridges and waterfalls, lilly pads and moss covered rocks. I just about wet myself. Its in places like that where life seems pretty fantastic, afterall and i feel most in my element so today was pretty much nirvana for me.

The second place we went was the 'Golden Pavilion' (i think youll be able to pick pictures of that out pretty quickly..) and that, too, was intensely beautiful. If theres one thing the Japanese can do best - in spite of Toyota or Sony electronics - its gardens. The landscaping was breathtaking and the fact that today was a humid, rainy, misty day just made everything green and lush and lovely. I met some little friends at the golden pavilion. they pulled out a booklet and read these words 'Hi, my name is so-and-so - do you speak English?' then 'would it be allr ight for us to ask you some questions?' finishing with 'Thank you so much. This was an exercise for us for our english lessons. Thank you!' They were pretty cute and giggly. I was happy to meet them.

Lastly we went to this Buddhist/Shinto shrine/temple combo thing. It was, aaaas usual STUNINGLY gorgeous. The smell of the rain, mixed with the smell of the woods and the smell of the smokes and stuff they were burning was unbelievable. I took so many pictures - but i couldnt: help myself (and they all make for STINKIN GOOD desktop backgrounds for my laptop!!) Its amazing to see people worship at these places. Its so serene and tranquil. I cant even really explain how touching and glorious it all is.

Walking from the temple back to the bus was fun because there are TONS of shops on the way so, naturally, we shopped and that was good. Stuff all starts to look the same after a while, though. Ah well! I got some last minute good gifts for folks.

We hopped on the bus and drove from Kyoto to Osaka and stopped along the way at a rest spot for some food at a restaurant. They treated us very well there - its the cleanest rest stop ive ever been to!! After we got to the hotel (a sheraton) and i REJOICED! heres why:
1. Tiffany Allen is my roommate again. she rocks.
2. FREE INTERNET AND BUISNESS CENTER!!! (the angles are singing for me, i can hear it!!)
3. ...we walked in the rooms and there are....soft beds. I think this will be the first night in 3 weeks that i will be sleeping on a bed that ...SQUISHES! what joy and rapture filled my soul upon this discovery!!

Have a great day!!! :)

The Nijo Castle!! So huge and pretty!!

Big guys in the moat. Say AAAAAWWWWW!!!! (He's saying 'I am monsterfish. ME HUNGRY!')

The most beautiful garden in the world. Kelsey, a flute player, was quoted to say 'This puts Versailles (spelling? Sorry!) to shame. When i went, it was crap. cuz it was the summer and everything looked dead.'
Can you guess?! its the Golden Pavillion!! (hmm..what we gonna call this buildin', eh?)

Oh well...y'know. Its me and the ...i cant remember what its called. Just to prove i was there!

The cute English students!
This is the Buddhist/Shinto place.
The view was not to be believed! Even on a gray day!

The Shinto area had a 'matchmaking' corner with a lot of good tokens for love/marriage/relationships and stuff. They had this dealio where if you can get from one rock (where the other similarly dressed people are standing in the background) to the other without any help and with your eyes closed, you will undoubtedly have your 'love wish' but if people have to help you (i.e. bear to the left!!!) then you may need a little advice along the way, but you will eventually get your love wish and if you miss it completley for you.

So ive been learning about him, and it turns out that Buddha is a pretty cool guy. He gets it, you know?
More views....

The temple again...

Shopping, heeeey!

I don't know what this little gremliney guy is but...he was everywhere, it seemed. Even in this candy store (full of free samples HOORAY!!!)

Love you all

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