Will We Ever Learn?

Breakfast is the very very last time we get to see everyone before they leave. I really hate goodbyes, I always feel like I have so much more to say and I don’t like the finality of it all. Alas, it must be done.

Angela has suggested that we get our hotel in Kyoto to ship our bags to Tokyo for us. This is something commonly done in Japan, costs very little, and allows us to travel to Tokyo more comfortably without lugging around our big suitcases. Now we can take the subway to our hotel instead of a cab. Parfait!

For our last day in Kyoto we take it really easy. It’s so nice not to be on any kind of schedule.
Dad and I decide to go to The Imperial Palace, after Angela points out to us that it’s free and open to the public for today only. Great! A little more sightseeing sounds like a good way to spend the day. We take a short cab ride to the palace, which is CLEARLY flooded with tourists. I don’t know why I didn’t foresee this. Free entry, Naomi. Free entry.
We line up behind approximately one trillion other humans at the entrance, where I must have my bag searched before being granted entry. I’m not sure if the guard who checks my bag is some sort of mutant or has super human sense, but all he does is unzip the top of my bag and then wave his hand 2 inches around the outside of it before handing it back to me and smiling. Yup, if I had a knife you’d TOTALLY be able to sense it from the air emanating off my backpack. Seems legit.

We pick up a small English brochure about the history and importance of the palace to read as we check it out. The most notable thing, is that it was first built in the 700s, but has been destroyed and rebuilt like 8 times since then. Wowzers. The current palace was built in 1855. I didn’t really learn much else about it, because there were too many people and it was hard to read the signs while still following the flow of traffic through the grounds. Seriously, look at all these people.

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But hey look! Cool old paintings, too!

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Once we are off the palace grounds and can breathe again, we walk back in the direction of our hotel. It’s about a half hour walk, but we’re in no hurry.
We wander around Teramachi and the surrounding shopping area quite aimlessly…it’s great. After having already visited this area of Kyoto with Angela, I feel like I know my way around and can take the time to check out any stuff I didn’t have time to see before.

We stop for a drink at a cute little upstairs restaurant on the main strip, where we order a hot matcha with a pounded rice jelly sweet thing.

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The bill comes to ¥2,239 ($25) so we leave ¥2,240 on the table, say thank you, and walk back downstairs. Our waitress comes to find us downstairs while we’re admiring the boxes sweets for sale, and brings our bill to the cash register there. Whoops, sorry!! We apologize and bow and stuff, then she runs back upstairs. The cashier takes our money and stands at the till for a while facing away from us. We’re done looking at all the sweets and we’re a settled up with the bill, so we step out to continue our walk. We make it to the traffic light before the cashier comes running after us to bring us a receipt and our ONE YEN in change.
One. Yen. That’s worth slightly less than a penny. Will we ever learn?! Japanese culture has a right and wrong way to do things…we clearly just chose the wrong one. One yen.

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I get pretty awkward and uncomfortable with the service in Japan. Everyone is subservient all the time, and I often feel like wait staff look stressed or worried (especially about speaking English), which makes ME stressed and worried. I just want them to relax! I’m not a difficult customer. Unless of of course, you’re chasing me down the street to give me ¥1 that I rudely walked out on.

We make it to the food market in Teramachi without being chased down by anymore flustered staff. We walk down a skinny road lined with tables stocked full of every different kind of fish you can think of. Loose leaf tea, tofu doughnuts, beans, nuts, and candies are also abundantly available. This, Angela had told me before, is where many local Kyotoites buy their groceries. We find a stall with little mini octopus skewered on a stick. I don’t know why, but it catches my eye amidst the hundred other fish snacks available on the street. The sales lady tells us that the octopus “head” is actually a quail egg. They’re only ¥200 ($2) so we each get one. I’m about to eat some kind of weird fish-bird hybrid. We take our selfie of the day, snacks in hand, and pop the whole hard boiled, tentacley collation in our mouths. I’d say the egg is a tad over cooked, and the idea of it is weird, but the overall flavour is fine.

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We find ourselves outside of a department store. I can see shoes and purses from the street and I can’t escape it, it’s like a magnet, I’m pulled in. Briefly, in Osaka, I had seen a pair of shoes with a Japanese logo. Not like Japanese sounding words with an English Alphabet, but proper Japanese characters. I need want a pair. I spend some time walking through the department store strictly looking for Japanese characters on the inner soles of the shoes. I finally find the same logo I had seen the other day, pick out a cute pair of flats and of heels, and ask the sales lady to bring me the biggest size of each. I’m only a 9 (39) in Canada, which is kind of big but not like the biggest, but Angela had warned me that shoe shopping would be impossible here. I ask anyway. They can only bring me (their biggest) 25 in the flats, which is apparently the equivalent of an 8, because I can get my foot in the shoe but it’s not what I’d classify as comfortable. I’m broken hearted.

We pass Coach on our way out and stop to look at prices just for comparisons sake. I now understand why bus loads of tourists get dropped off at the Coach Outlet malls in Canada. The purses are nearly twice the cost here! A bag that would usually cost around $300 costs close to $600. A small wristlet that I know to cost $58 in Toronto, costs $100 in Kyoto. Hella no. Not that my soon-to-be poor backpacking self can afford these things anyway….
A girl can dream of a world where backpacking in Louboutins makes sense, can’t she?

We stop at one more store before returning to the hotel for a much needed nap. A really cute pair of very Japanese looking ankle boots catch my eye in a shop window. I go in and ask for the biggest size. The biggest they have, in all three available colours, is a Medium. I don’t know what size that is number wise, but I don’t even come close to cramming my foot inside.
Shoes do NOT come in my size here. Please ignore my previous statements; I retract everything I’ve ever said about wanting to move to Japan.

I have a wonderful nap while Dad tries to upload photos to Facebook (and fails). We find a cool side street in Kyoto for dinner where we have an all you can eat (or, “you may order many times for free”) cook-it-yourself dinner with beef, pork, and vegetables in stew. We also get some random side dishes such as edamame, raw salmon salad, and small fried chicken balls with French fries. I am SO FULL, and so happy I skipped lunch to have room for all of this. The restaurant plays Japanese covers of American songs which I totally jam out to during dinner.

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