Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Kyoto Research Trip, Tōji Temple Market and the Kamo River

Generally, houses in Japanese cities suck because the windows are inches away from another house's wall.  Today, however, this meant that I actually got to sleep in a few hours past sunrise!

Today started off with a trip to the Tōji Temple Market, which was really fun!

I'm glad I got to experience that function of the temple, and had a good excuse to wander the grounds more.  There were lots of handicrafts, antiques, food (oh the many lovely smells!), and kimono/yukata.  It was a bit like a farmer's market in some places, with fresh produce and dried goods.  Other areas were more like the usual markets along the approach to temples, with things like satsuma-imo (omg wanted so bad!), okonomiyaki, and every flavor of dango.  I caved and bought myself an apple flavored daifuku, which is pretty much solid sugar, but I couldn't resist.  It was delicious, and on top of all of the other joint aches I have at the moment, I doubt if I'll notice the extra from the sugar.

Speaking of food, last summer was an exercise in learning to eat in Japan without getting glutened.  This summer I just keep trying to not binge on all of my favorite non-gluteny, mostly sugary foods, like daifuku and peaches.  I've avoided the fruit sodas so far though, for which I'm rather pleased with myself.

It was raining this morning, but cleared up while I was at Tōji.  By the time I got to the Kamo River, it was full sun.  Fun fact that they don't tell you about Plaquenil on the pill bottle warnings, it makes you burn easier.  So... my SPF 55 did pretty much nothing, and I turned into a lobster.  But I made it from Hachijō to where the Kamo runs into the Katsura River.  I think it was around 3 miles or so.

The embankment has a walkway on both sides most of the way.  I stuck to the west bank in the beginning, since the east bank was closed off, but then a little less than half way through I had to switch sides.  From there, the east bank was the only side with a path.  It gradually went from solid masonry to overgrown masonry to some kind of glued-together-woodchips to sand and finally a two track.  But it was easy to follow the whole way and only died out at the end of the river, which I was fine with because I was very much ready to not be walking any more.

At this point a really friendly older guy gave me directions, because like a dummy, I didn't actually look at a map to figure out where the river ended so I would know where I came out...   He then caught back up with me on his bike later and made sure I got safely on a bus back to Kyoto Station.  His dog's name was Choko.  It seemed less awkward to ask about his dog while he walked me to the main road than say nothing...  Very scruffy looking dog.

Once I got back to the station I made an attempt to get to the Kyoto Prefecture Library and Archive, but the bus took way longer than I expected and I arrived as it closed.  Does this happen to everybody the first time they try to go to an archive?  It seems like some sort of bad grad student cliche.  Anyway, I hadn't been planning on walking more, but I couldn't figure out which bus to take and I knew I wasn't too far from where I needed to be, so I took the opportunity to explore another little stretch of the Kamo River (the northern part of the map).  

I'm interested in seeing how my GPS tracker's map lines up with the data I got from GSI Japan.  I've had a suspicion it was pretty off based on the elevation data I have, and so far my tracks are confirming that the river line is pretty much useless.  Granted, I was walking on the embankment, so whatever track I get is obviously not the river's centerline, but it's still off.  I'm still trying to figure out how to access GIS data from the City of Kyoto.  So if anybody has any ideas, I'm all ears.

Here are some of the animals I collected today:

The turtle on the right kept loosing its balance and falling backwards.  It was quite comical.  The ugly brown thing in the water is Asian Carp.  (Tōji)

I wish I had the book of animals that live in Kyoto with me.  I don't know what these birds are, but I will find out!  The guy on the right was showing off for something.  My camera has 10x optical zoom, which I used to its fullest for this shot.  I was also on the other side of a small island covered in brush, so I doubt it was me.

In spite of it's name (kamo = duck), there aren't many ducks on the Kamo River, but I did get one picture.  And the obsessive historian in me does have to make a note that "kamogawa" probably didn't actually mean "duck river" originally.  The oldest writings about the Kamo region use different ideographs (賀茂 or 加茂) which are completely phonetic, vs. the character 鴨 for duck.

A dog behind me started it, but I had fun joining in with chasing the pigeons.

Last set of pictures.  I am absolutely in love with these birds.  I'm not really sure why.  The all white cranes are pretty too, but I like the one in the picture on the left best.  Also pictured above with the turtles.  The markings are really pretty, and their feathers must be so light!  The wind was blowing and it was moving his feathers around like hair.  You can kind of see it in the left picture at the base of his neck and over his wing.

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