Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Japan, April 4th - Takayama and Kyoto

After a breafast that included cook-it-yourself vegetables in miso, wrapped in a leaf that kept sticking to our barbecues, we took the bus back to Takayama and visited the famous morning farmer's market. We should have guessed that the selections wouldn't be very impressive in this cold weather; most of the foods that we saw were pickles.

One particular temple that we walked past had children's music playing, so we stepped in to see what was going on. Industrious uniformed people seemed to be setting up for something, and the shrine's steps were covered with dolls and stuffed animals. As we watched, several people walked in with more bags of toys and positioned them on the steps.

We tried to go to Kanazawa by train, but the ticket salesman explained to us that a section of the train line was shut down due to an accident. We'd have to take a convoluted train and bus combination to get there. (With my bad Japanese, I first thought he was describing a bus accident and tried to book the train anyway, but eventually figured it out.) So we opted to return to Kyoto's near-infinite array of tourist sites instead.

In Kyoto, we used a travel agency to book a discounted hotel, then stolled along Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Path) to see the cherry trees arching over the river, visited some nearby temples, and had a filled pancake dinner at a restaurant in Gion that we belatedly noticed had bawdy cartoon art all over its walls. The continuous rain cramped our ambitions to do more tonight, so we retired to our hotel for the night. It has rained every day here so far.