Christmas day Interview oh and more shrines and castles

Travel ?? Comments Mon 05 January 2015

My plan today was quite vague; go to Arashiyama to escape the city for a bit and walk down the bamboo path, visit Nijō-jō (Nijō Castle), and wander around for a bit that afternoon. It doesn't really matter, I told myself that morning, a bit sick of concrete plans. I'll just make it up as I go along.

And that's how I ended up watching The Interview, at midnight, at a hostel on the other side of the train station, with some pretty cool Australians I had literally just met.

Arashiyama

On the western outskirts of Kyoto, this district requires a fairly lengthy bus trip, but it is well worth it - it feels like you've entered a completely different part of Japan; everything is just older, shorter, greener. There are hardly any cars on the road, even, which was somewhat reminiscent of Okinawa.

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And although it still feels like you're in Kyoto, suddenly turning corners you'll find massive expanses of forest - like the somewhat unexpected bamboo forest.

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The bamboo path comes to an end right in front of Ōkōchi Sansō, the former home of the Japanese silent film actor Denjirō Ōkōchi. Having no other plans, and kinda hungry (the admission price, although steep, comes with a free green tea - probably to catch all the tired/hungry tourists at the end of the bamboo path, case in point), I decided to check it out.

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The ground were pretty spectacular for a private garden

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Also look at the view it has of Kyoto!


After wandering the gardens for a while, I finally settled down for my free (heh) green tea.

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Matcha (powdered) green tea, and dessert. Look at that foam!

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I really enjoyed that dessert, but I have no idea what it was

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The tea room directly overlooks the bamboo forest


I was being the typical tourist, pulling out my Lonely Planet to see what else was around this area, when I noticed the guy opposite me was doing the same (albeit with the fully fledged guide as opposed to my puny pocket guide). After comparing them briefly (mine only had two pages on Okinawa, and didn't even mention the aquarium or - gasp - Pineapple Park), we got talking, and tips on traveling Japan turned into a cynical discussion on academia after I found out that Bastien (from France!) had recently finished his masters in engineering.

Nijō-jō

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I was quite looking forward to visiting Nijō-jō, as this was my first castle in Japan. Plus, I had travelled to it the day before (a 30 minute bus ride) only to discover it was closed (it closes the day after a public holiday rather than on the day, for some reason).

And it was pretty awesome, with gold plated exteriors, massive (and meticulous) gardens, crazy 400 year old murals, and nightingale floors which squeak in order to thwart any would-be assassins.

Cons: I had to take my shoes off (of course) and no photos were allowed. Which, to be fair, was kind of freeing.

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'No scribbling' - strangely enough, sketching anything within the grounds was also forbidden


Tō-ji

On my stroll back to the hostel (ha, stroll - for some reason I decided to walk at breakneck speed and get there in 10 minutes), I decided to stop by at Tō-ji - I mean, it is the tallest pagoda in Japan, it has to be at least a little impressive, right?

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It was impressive!

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I was too excited to find a tree that still thought it was autumn, judging by the numerous photos I have of it

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This hall was also pretty spectacular, with ancient massive statues of Buddha and other deities


The Interview

It was about 4.30 pm, I had just arrived back at my hostel, and I was insanely bored - basically just lying on my bed, playing on my phone.

I was so bored that I had resorted to reading the changelog of the apps I was updating on my phone, when I suddenly noticed an advert for The Interview, the James Franco/Seth Rogan North Korean comedy that almost caused World War III (according to some more sensationalist periodicals).

And only $5.99 as well! In Perth that would have cost almost $20 to see in cinemas.

Hey, do you have a TV in your hostel? I messaged Brandon, an Australian I'd met who was also travelling through Japan.

I'm really, really tempted to watch The Interview after all the hype.

And so, after a brief detour to BIC CAMERA in order to buy a slimport (USB to HDMI) converter for my phone (which cost $30, so I was now way over budget compared to a theatrical release, but screw it, I was committed), we made our way over to Hana Hostel in order to watch The Interview.

Just as the movie was starting, we were joined by others staying at the hostel - a group of friends from Australia on a two week holiday (later on I discovered I have mutual friends with them, as they all went to a Jewish high school in Melbourne; small world etc. etc.).

All set with our vending machine beers (oh man, our hostel doesn't have any beer vending machines- oh wait that might be because it has a bar) and our extremely low expectations (we had read the reviews beforehand), we were pleasantly surprised. And also a bit drunk. But still.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good end to the Christmas day.

Tags: japan kyoto



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