Saturday, July 16, 2005

Kyoto, Part Deux

On the Hikari Super-Express Shinkansen to Nagoya, Japan
Special Guest Blogger - Juan N.

Kyoto was un-fucking-believable!

Taking the bus from the station to the inn was an ordeal. I had no clue how the fares worked. Turns out you pay when you get off. Not when you get on. And I was lugging around the largest suitcase in Japan.

A short, slightly confused walk later, we ended up in front of the Kyoto Travelers' Inn. Jason and Mike checked us all in and we crashed into our Western-style room.

First order of business was trying out the public baths. Needless to say, I was a bit apprehensive. I stripped down to a pair of shorts and put on the light cotton robe the hotel offered. Grabbed my orange towel, and tailed Mike and Jason to the bath.

Left our shoes at the head of the bath, got up on the floor, and I stripped down to my birthday suit. I have never been naked in front of strangers who aren't my doctor. I also have never been naked in front of friends before.

Next room had a bunch of showers, with no stalls in between. I sat my cheeks on a small plastic stool, and began washing off. Mike and I engaged in idle chat while Jason was off to the side. After I washed off the grime, I eased myself into the boiling hot bathtub at the end of the room.

The bit of apprehension turned into a full-on anxiety attack. However much I freak out, asking girls out and the like, I don't think I've ever had an attack like that before. After I admitted as much to the guys, they were surprised because on the outside I maintained my composure. I guess I become two people: the cool, suave outside and the freaking out, with-a-pounding-heart inside. Several minutes into soaking in the pool, I began the relaxation exercises my psychiatrist taught me. No dice.

As quickly as all that started, it ended. My heart raced for a good while after I was nice and dry and on my own bed in the room. And look at that, I survived. It wasn't as relaxing as I would've liked, but I'm glad I took another big step towards not being such a gutless coward.

Next day.

We woke up to the most alien sounds outside our window. Were they birds? The water system? Shoved that question aside as we dressed and raced for the end of the Goin Matsuri. A Kyoto parade. We stuck around for a half hour or so, in stifling humidity. It was a quite a sight, watching the paraders turn their tall, lumbering, pagoda floats. The front wheels don't steer like those on a car, see, so they resorted to an elaborate procedure involving wet bamboo slats on the road to slide the float on, lots and lots of pulling, etc.

During the parade I asked a of couple people about that weird noise that never left us. I already had suspicions they were insects, and a quick chat with the natives confirmed them.

Had some lunch, and worked our way up to a temple complex above Kyoto. It took me a while to realize I did the complex already, on my previous trip here. The climb was sooo much easier on a tour bus.

We wandered down from the hill. My feet were killing me. God, I do hope I can manage Fuji-san. We sat ourselves by the river and enjoyed us some beer. We then delved deep into the very bowels of Kyoto for some grub.

Mike found us the smallest restaurant in the smallest of side alleys. I could bearly read the menu. We all decided to just pick three random things and share them family style. They put me in charge of the picking.

Conversation began flowing between us and the table to the side. The guy, Seki, plays in a heavy metal band called LSD. His female companion, Minami, uh was cute and I never figured out what she did. Abundant osake greased the wheels even more.

I can count on my left hand the times I've been high on life. And folks, that dinner was definitely one of them. Pleasant conversation, in fucking JAPANESE, with a couple of natives, put me on the top of the world. On our way to the next stop, I took Jason's pen and wrote a note on my hand, reminding myself to thank the greatest Japanese teacher, ichiban nihongo no sensei, for making it happen.

And the night only got better.

Jason and I grabbed ourselves some soft-serve from a Wendy's and we ended up in a 50's kind of bar thing. I needed to pee. When I returned, I sat between Jason and Mike at the counter. With a couple of ladies to Jason's left.

The sake started flowing and the conversation right along with it and Mike invented drinking games and Jason gave me the seat he occupied and get this. I began flirting with the ladies in Japanese! They were the nicest people, Andi to my immediate left and Tomoko to her left. I FLIRTED, YOU GUYS. We exchanged compliments, I fed Andi some popcorn, she ran her hand lightly down my leg, Oh. My. God. I danced me some swing with Tomoko.

Amy S? Mission Accomplished.

Next on our list is the Aichi World Expo. We're tackling Fuji late on Tuesday. Not sure what happens in between that and my final stay in Narita Thursday night, before I head back to the good ol' US of A.


Blogger ben said...

WAY TO GO JUAN! You've taken your first step into a larger world.

7/20/2005 12:14 AM gmt

Blogger juancnuno said...

It's more like a second step. I did make out with that crazy girl in the Kibbitz Room.

7/21/2005 9:50 AM gmt

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe I spelled Kibitz with two Bs after berating Christina for doing the same thing.

Jason is reading the old entries, and just gave me props for my night in Kyoto. I asked him for the URL, so I could reread it.

Wow. What a night.

I did end up thanking my sensei for her help in making it happen. She asked permission to use my pics of Tokyo Station in her class, I gladly gave it to her.

I'm wondering who this Amy S is that gave me the mission to hit on Japanese women.

I'm also wondering where this Juan Nuno went to.

8/03/2006 3:09 AM gmt


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