Wednesday, November 23, 2005


We went to Kyoto (by shinkansen)for a few days last week, the 17th and 18th, just after Bush and Koizumi had visited. We stayed in a suite at the Westin Miyako Hotel---nice, but not really worth the price.

It was the first time in 18 years since I had been there. The thing that struck me was how clean the air seemed. It also seemed like a small town compared to Tokyo, which I guess it is. It was very relaxing until Friday morning when we went to see Kioymizu temple, one of the most famous in Japan. It was almost as crowded as rush hour on the Denentoshi line. Filled mostly with high school kids. Gotta say it was less then impressive compared to other places I have seen in Kyoto.

The autumn leaves were almost in full color---perhaps they are this week. One of the taxi drivers told us the best time to come is in the winter if we want fewer people. WHen I tell that to people in Tokyo they are shocked---who wants to go to cold Kyoto in the winter! So the cab driver is right. We will probably go again then and visit smaller, less popular spots.

One of the biggest surprises was a small okonomiyaki shop (Kiraku) we ate at on Thursday night. Some of the most delicious okonimiyaki either my wife or I have ever eaten. Also had delicious steamed mushrooms with bacon. It's just a few minutes walk downhill from the Westin Miyako Hotel. Can't wait to eat there again. And SHOCK!!! the staff was actually friendly and would talk to foreign guests in English. That is something I never see in Tokyo---at least not to engage in conversation. In Tokyo, it is only that required to get the money. Even in Japanese.

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