Too Tired To Blog

Sorry, no new entry today. I’m too tired. We visited four different temples and one museum today, and we’re wiped out. On top of that we had the excitement of buying shoes in a foreign country. (Tracie discovered that she’s worn out the sole of one of the boots she’s been wearing; if she doesn’t stop wearing it now she’ll damage it irreparably.)

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Special Report: Breakfast in Japan

I believe that it’s something of an FAQ in the U.S.: What do people in Asian countries have for breakfast? Once we learn that they eat seemingly strange things like raw fish and seaweed, breakfast foods seem particularly mysterious. Based on the breakfasts I’ve had today and yesterday, both of which were described as Japanese, the short version of the answer is fish, rice, and pickled things. Here’s a photo of what I had for breakfast today, delivered via room service at the Hotel Granvia: read more

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Photos from Asakusa

Nevermind what I said previously about reverse-chronological order; it looks like I’m going to skip around. Here are photos from our day in Asakusa. It might be interesting to look at last year’s photos from the same area and compare the foliage. We were here earlier in the spring last year, and the cherry trees were blooming. This year they’ve finished blooming, but more plants have leafed out and other flowers are blooming.

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Pictures of Me at Hase-dera

Tracie just flipped through the photos in the previous post and suggested in no uncertain terms that I’m an “idiot” for not putting in any of me. So, here are two photos of me:

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Photos from Hasa-dera

Here’s the first batch of photos. I guess I’ll at least start by going in reverse-chronological order. We’ve already taken over 900 photos so it’s a little daunting to decide where to begin when picking some to post, but I’ll just dive in.

Here are photos from Hase-dera temple and its surroundings. I’m not going to comment on each photo here; if you have questions, post a comment and I’ll try to answer. The photos are essentially in the order in which we saw things, so there are photos of the garden at both the beginning and the end. read more

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Test Post

This is a test… Just one photo:

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Let’s see whether this works. If it works, I’ve found the problem. (The problem was that the default timeout parameter in BlogDesk’s site properties is too short for a dial-up connection.)

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“Home.”

We’re now in Kyoto. Tracie sums up our feelings about the Hotel Granvia with one word: home. She uttered this monosyllable just after one of the cadre of impeccably polite, uniformed young women showed us to our room (thanking us three times for waiting, once for the elevator’s arrival, once for its ascent, and once for her to open the door), gave us our keys (which are disposable electronic cards), explained our breakfast coupons and choices, wished us a pleasant stay, bowed at least twice, became all smiley and bowed several more times after we mentioned that this was our second stay, and departed. On the desk I found a small greeting card addressed to Tracie. It was printed with text welcoming us and telling us that the hotel will do everything they can to make our stay pleasant, and it was hand-signed by the general manager. We love this place. It is indeed our home away from home. read more

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Hase-dera Temple

Today we visited the Hase-dera temple near Kamakura. Hase is also the home of the Daibutsu, the great statue of Buddha that we visited last year. (Actually we visited two great statues of Buddha last year. The one at Hase is the one that’s outdoors and is greenish with verdigris.) We intended to go to the temple last year also but didn’t make it because it was rather hot and reaching it entails a climb up a number of stone steps. Today it was our main goal, and fortuitously the weather was cool so Tracie had little trouble making the ascent. read more

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Shopping Day in Asakusa

On Tuesday, the day after the one we spent with Tamae, we had a leisurely stroll around Asakusa. This is the same area we visited last year so I’m not going to try to describe it all again. You can search on my site for “Asakusa” to find last year’s entry.

Our main destination for the day was a washi (handmade paper) store near Kaminarimon Gate. We weren’t able to visit this store last year; it was closed on the day that we went to it. It was again closed on Tuesday morning but after awhile I approached a couple of locals and learned from them that it opens at 11:00. [Mental note for preparations for next visit to Japan: learn how to read numbers well enough to read hours of operation posted on storefronts.] 20 minutes before 11:00 the staff arrived and we watched them open the store, wash down the sidewalk in front of the store, sweep the floors, etc. read more

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Our Day With Tamae-San, Part Three: Sengaku-ji Temple

We have arrived in Kamkura. It’s about 4:30PM. We’ve done a little shopping and sight-seeing. The highlight of the day was taking an hour-long ricksaw ride around town, stopping at a temple nestled in a spectacular bamboo forest. I’ll say more about that later (although that pretty well sums it up for the day); first I’ll finish off our day with Tamae-san.

After lunch we went to the Sengaku-ji Temple. It’s a medium-sized Buddhist temple with a quiet, peaceful courtyard. One unusual feature was a vending machine which dispensed incense for the burner in front of the temple. Most temples and shrines have a little booth or window from which someone sells incense; Tamae seemed somewhat put out by the very concept of an incense vending machine. There are small but rather pretty planted areas and small gardens surrounding the temple, and an entrancing ceramic barrel that makes plinky, echoey sounds when you pour water into it. There is also another well in which Kira’s head was bathed again. (Yes, they bathed it outside his dwelling also. Maybe it got a little dirty during the 10-mile walk through a snowstorm.) read more

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