This is my attempt to keep myself a little more organized this trip and give myself a space to reflect on what I've been doing, what I found, where I went, all that.
My assignment for this trip: Get to know Kyoto. No, seriously, that's what my adviser told me to do. I tried last year while I was at my internship, but I was only able to come to Kyoto for a weekend, which was fantastic but far too short.
So for the next two weeks, I'm hoofing it around the city, finding museums and libraries, visiting shrines and temples, and trying not to get too lost. So far I've already gotten myself helplessly lost for about an hour and a half last night, but, uh... that shouldn't happen again...
Speaking of last night, I officially swear off hostels!! I was supposed to stay at one for two nights until I could get into my apartment, but that was super creepy, really hard to get to (the aforesaid being lost), and not secure at all. Got a great deal on a hotel for tonight though, right across the street from Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (not my favorite museum in this city, by the by).
So, let's rewind for a bit, since posting didn't happen last night.
This was freaking awesome!!
That's right, I got a picture of Mt. Fuji from the plane! Which was the only good thing about taking a domestic flight from Haneda to KIX instead of the Shinkansen. Never doing that again, at least if I'm trying to get to Kyoto.
Another awesome picture. Seriously though, it took me about two and a half hours to get from the airport to Kyoto, on top of the hour plus flight. And I kept having to change trains. Shinkansen is so much more direct. But the view of the mountain, mountains even, and the shoreline was so worth it. It was kinda fun trying to pick out landmarks by the ground's shape. I also decided that reclaimed land is just ugly. Japan's got such a beautiful shape to the shoreline where it's not reclaimed, and then suddenly you get ports and sections jutting out that are literally rectangles. I get the practical purpose of them... they're just ugly.
Skipping over the nightmare that was finding and staying at the shadiest hostel I've ever encountered, today was awesome. Here's my map!
I started around Kyoto Station with the intention of making my way up to the Kyoto City Archaeological Museum. Yeah, that's what I get for not looking at a map before I set off. Fortunately, I've long since lost my fear of stopping by convenience stores to ask for directions. And Kyoto has really great information maps on a lot of the main intersections. It took from about 9:40 (first reading, right after breakfast) until 1:40. I stopped a couple of times for directions (obviously), and once at a mall for the bathroom, but I think I got walking quota in! The only crappy thing was it started pouring rain about noon. It'd been drizzling enough before then that I'm not the owner of yet another umbrella (cause seriously, who thinks to pack that for an international trip?), but I ended up pretty worried about my shoes soaking through by the end. Decided to take the bus back to Kyoto Station afterward.
So, the Archaeological Museum was awesome. It's basically just one floor, but they had a special exhibit open on the first floor of the building until today. It was pretty neat to see the actually artifacts unearthed in the city. The displays were really basic, just tombstone labels and the occasional diagram image, but the volunteer working was very enthusiastic about telling me additional information. Example, there was a random black slab that was broken on one side and chipped around the other edges. The label said something about a monkey face and the Heian Period. Mmkay... If you looked a bit closer there were silver lines around the edges, but apparently this artifact is of interest because it was found in the house of Fujiwara Michinaga's son. Not sure what it is or why/who made it, but pretty cool by association. Helpful volunteer was also very nice and not at all intimidated by talking to a foreigner who also knows about Japanese history. He just rolled with all of my questions.
One of today's finds/lessons (which I regret not taking a picture of, but it would have been totally awkward!) was a pile of sticks.
See the kid squatting in the middle? If you zoom in, you'll see he's holding a stick. He's also taking a very juicy dump. (This scroll is fantastic, by the way. It's the Gaki Zōshi, probably my favorite medieval scroll.) Yes, the archaeologists dug up and preserved a pile of poop sticks. And yes, the curator(s) arranged them for display, complete with a blow-up picture of the boy taking a poo. I love history!!
Other finds included:
A wooden die from the twelfth century
Ceremonial bowls with faces painted on them
And in case you've forgotten, a friendly reminder of how to properly use a toilet (actually, I found this at KIX yesterday, but we're putting it here anyway).
And that is all! Early to bed for me tonight!