Tuesday, June 23, 2009. 4:15pm Japan Time.
This morning Terinati and I woke up realizing we hadn't slept as well as the night before. I fared better than him, as I struggled to wake him up, but apparently we had been really spoiled by the pre-sleep massage on the previous night, which made it feel like we were melting into cream puffs. Yum . . . Maybe it was just easier for me to get up because I had dreamt about roaches all night and was eager to get out of there. :}
We had breakfast, even though it was a fasting day, and my opinion of their food has entirely changed. Other than the first meal, everything was very tasty, so it was an isolated incident. Still, anyone who is afraid of trying new things, especially cooking something alive right in front of you or looking at food with eyeballs still intact, I don't recommend going to Ichinoyu Honkan.
In the end, if it weren't for the roaches, I'd totally go back there. But, even using the restroom was scary because I looked up and realized that the ceiling had been repaired more than once for holes . . . but only with rice paper. :| Look, people . . . roaches are serious business. Therefore, never again! * sigh * Sorry, guys, but your Kotobuki was one of your best rooms . . . and it's infested. Ick.
So, I was glad to leave, hoping and praying that I have no hitch-hikers with our luggage, and we took the JR to Kyoto! It was a long trip, and Terinati isn't feeling well. I was surprised when we arrived here, because Kyoto is pretty much what I expected Tokyo to be! It feels like a much larger city, with the station leading directly into a HUGE, trendy mall that sells things like Gucci and other expensive, foreign stuffs. The fresh market looked pretty exciting, but it's also on the expensive end of things. I thought it was fun to look through the shop, but window shopping on vacation isn't very satisfying in the end. :}
After that, we found our inn, the Ryokan Shimizu. While we were too early to check in, our hostess was more than happy to take our luggage. We went and explored the mall more thoroughly, visited Kyoto Tower (I was skeptical, because Kyoto isn't as pretty or old-fashioned as I'd imagined in my head, but it's cool to see everything from up there!), and then we wandered around a bit to go to places we saw at the tower. Unfortunately, the garden we wanted to walk through charged a fee for entry, so we skipped it and just came back and sat outside the inn until it was time to check in. :}
Something I've noticed is that either there is some cultural void or a nasty marketing scheme, but there are no benches ANYWHERE in Japan. I mean, except for like, gardens. It's no wonder the majority of the people in Japan are in good shape. They ride bikes, walk, and have nowhere to sit. The reason I suspect a marketing scheme is because Japan seems too accommodating to not provide seating every so often. Yet, in every city we've visited so far, there is no where to sit except for at bus stops or gardens. In fact, if it wasn't for that, we would not have gone into a restaurant in Tokyo before, but I was so tired that I was desperate enough to sit that I was willing to pay for food I didn't want just to be able to rest. HMM... :} We've managed to resist since then, but it is tiring when all you're doing is walking and traveling all the time.
Consequently, we're not doing anything interesting tonight. It's a fasting night, and we've been traveling for well over a week now and need a break!
I am so much more impressed with this ryokan than the last. I see an incredible difference on how well-maintained this building is in comparison to the last one. There are definitely no roaches here. No peeling paint, no poorly-patched holes, etc. It's ironic, because I don't mind a building being a little run-down. That was part of the charm of The Green Age Inn, which I miss. Mostly, I miss her delicious tea and sweet disposition. * sniffle * But, by this far into the trip, I'm just happy to have a stable place to rest!
Also, our hostess speaks English so fluently that there is no Engrish, and not really any accent either. She made sure we knew how to turn on the air conditioning and showed us where the English instructions are (THANK GOODNESS! No one had done this thus far, so we'd just been hitting random buttons; the Toyoko Asakusa Inn remote was pretty self-explanatory, though)! And, not only that, but once we were settled in, she sent a nice man with iced tea for us to drink! How thoughtful! Everywhere else only provided hot tea. Granted, everywhere else has been cool. Kyoto is humid and hot today, which is what I'd original been expecting in all of the other cities. This is the first time I completely left my jacket packed since we arrived in Japan! I hope the next few days are a little cooler, though, since we'll be heading out again.
One thing that I like about Japanese inns which are lacking in America . . . Specific requests of curfew for coming back to the inn (you have to, because you leave your key at the front desk when you leave and the inns aren't staffed 24 hours like ours are in America), and requests for people to be quiet after a specific time or you will be removed. Some American inns say that they will do this, but when it is noisy, which it almost always is (I have sensitive hearing, even when asleep, so that's something I was worried about in Japan before I came here . . . I assumed sleeping in inns here would be as bad as back home; glad to be wrong!), if you tell the person at the front desk they usually just ask the person to be more quiet and don't do anything else. Of course, that doesn't stop noisy people. And, it seems that most people who work in American hotels have the mind set of, “Well, they paid for their room, so they can do whatever they want in it.” But, I really think the Japanese have the right idea; after all, what happened to that constitutional right that not only says we should pursue happiness but that our pursuit should not disrupt the happiness of others? People in America always seem to forget that inconvenient, second part. :p Ugh. Sometimes . . . being an American makes me ashamed. :p Why are so many Americans such jerks?
Anyway, I'm going to sit now and enjoy my iced tea quietly in our nice room and see if I can't watch TV. Talk later! 4:41pm Japan Time.