Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kyoto-a-go-go!

So this past weekend, I went on an OSS run trip to Kyoto! We took the Shikansen (bullet train) from Shinagawa at 7:30am on Saturday morning. It took a few hours, and I took some pictures of Mt.Fuji-san on the way.
When we got there, we got on a bus to go to some of the shrines. The bus ride itself was a blast! We got TASTY bentos, and Abby hung out the bus window like May and Satsuki did in Totoro. The weather was PERFECT. Just below 70 and none too humid. Tho I wouldn't have minded a good 90 with 80% humidity but w/e. My face still got a little burnt.

The first shrine we went to was Tenryuji Temple. The biggest Koi ever were there, and the whole shrine was beautiful not to mention HUGE.
Then we went to "Monkey Mountain"... We called it Monkey Mountain because it seemed like it really was a mountain. None of us knew about the climb. I had no problem, I ran up it, but it was pretty high. I don't really like monkeys in person to begin with, and these ones were free-range. Poop everywhere. And when the keepers fed them, they played the Can Can song and chucked food all over so the monkeys would go running around to this silly music in packs attacking each-other for food.








The next temple we visited was the Golden Temple. It was nice, but I liked the surrounding area better than the temple itself.












Last stop of the night was Kiyomizu-dera which was having its lights festival. It was the most uncanny and beautiful thing I have experienced. My heart stopped the moment we got to the first lanterns and I still don't think it has started again. It looked exactly like Spirited Away. I really expected to at any minuet be pulled aside by so
me spirit and be told that I can't leave for some reason or another. The lights were SO supernatural. And the most bizarre moments kept happening - like the wind would blow and the trees would send petals floating through the light beams so they glowed. It was really surreal. *sigh*




It also helped that I had this photo assignment due: "Light." I shot the whole thing there untill my SD card filled up. Oops.
Did you know? You can buy 4G SD cards at convenience stores in Japan! I was so relieved untill my battery ran out. Crap. BUT, another girl on the trip also had a Canon Rebel EOS-X so I borrowed her charger.
The hotel we stayed at was a real Japanese hotel with tatami mats and futons and yukatas for us to wear. The best part was the little onsen (public bath). You and who ever else is in there shower at these little showers around the sides of the room together, then get into a big hot bath together. I was a little drunk by then, so I had to wrap a cold towel around my head to keep from getting too hot. Breakfast was a traditional Japanese breakfast, ate kneeling at a small table with rice, tofu, oolong tea, a fried egg, miso soup, and some stuff I have no idea the name of. But it was really filling! We were up and out by 9. A group of us went to Osaka by train, and Quinn and I split off to go to Kaiyukan Aquarium - the 2nd largest in the world. If you don't know, I LOVE aquariums! This one had animals from the Ring of Fire area of the world. My camera was still without a battery at this point, so all the pictures I took were on my iPhone. They wound up turning out really good! There were 2 Whale Sharks, 2 Beluga Whales (or "finless porpoises" as they called them), baby Otters, and lots of Jellys.
I wanted to go on the ferris wheel, but Quinn is upset by heights...
At night, we went to the onsen again, and fit in 8 girls. Then we all played "Bull Shart" into the night. Needless to say, we took advantage of a few drinks to get to the "shart" part of Bull Shit. Ahhhhh yes....
Our last day was spent in Nara, where the Sacred Deer live. I didn't like the Sacred Deer thing... I don't believe in playing with my food. Its way too weird, feeding wild animals and seeing them act like totally spoiled lap dogs.








Instead Quinn and I went to Todaiji Daibatsuden Temple, home of Japan's largest Buddha and his two Bodhisattvas. There was a lake on the way that we stopped to look at with a little shrine in the middle on an island. While looking at it, I spotted something blue in a tree and thought it was a Kingfisher bird. I shot it with my telephoto lens and it was! Good spot! I even saw it dive, but I couldn't shoot that.








The air smelled really good. Not like the cloying incense that makes me sick in churches, but like burning cedar. The Buddha was enormous and looked right through you. I was really in love with the Bodhisattvas. I always find them really interesting. I like the idea of someone postponing enlightenment to help others. I like to think that given the chance, I would do the same.












On the way home, I saw something really strange. I thought I saw a great big light coloured bear from the Shikansen window... I looked it up, and a species of bear called the Moon Bear does live in Japan, and there is a morph called the Golden Moon Bear, but it would have been impossible for me to have actually seen one of those. But what I did see looked exactly like what it should/ would look like. Or maybe I saw Moro. I did get the feeling that I would see a giant boar or wolf with two tails at any moment. I guess I really did see a spirit. Thank you, Japan. It means alot to me.

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