Tuesday, April 05, 2005
I'm now in Kyoto, which was cold yesterday but absolutely gorgeous and warm (like 21 degrees C) today. Last night, we stayed with Sarah's host parents from her study abroad here junior year. They have this beautiful old-style house, and were so awesome to put us (especially me) up. When we arrived, the mother - whom we'll call Okasan - was like (in Japanese, this was related to me later by Sarah), 'oh my, you didn't say he was a boy, you can't stay in one room together!' Little does she know, heh. We had dinner (Okasan is a great cook), which was some kind of fish, pretty much whole, in a sweet-ish sauce, a soup with cabbage-wrapped meat, rice, and salad. It was all fantastic, though I don't have any idea what it was.
During the meal, our hosts said they liked how I eat - that I was very neat and had excellent manners, 'especially since it was my first time in Japan.' I was pretty impressed with myself for this, especially since the fish was whole and required deboning with only well-polished chopsticks, and the rest of the meal was soup. In (slightly delayed) response to this compliment, of course, I later dropped an apple slice on the living room floor. Score one for me: no stain!
We got up early and spent today walking and biking around Kyoto, visiting all the major temples and shrines. There's something about a zen garden that sounds utterly twee, until you visit one and realize that it really is so calming and peaceful.
Biking here is a trip too. You ride on the sidewalk. You don't wear a helmet. You dodge heavy pedestrian traffic, other bikes, and cars in the crosswalk. Tons of fun, actually.
I really wish I'd learned katakana and hiragana before I got here; there's only so far "アイス コーヒー" will get you, you know.