Saturday, July 18, 2015

Japan 2015 Day 10: Friends Come to Visit!

Well, the rain finally stopped! Although it was still really cloudy & wet, we decided to take a trip to the Modern Art Museum to see an exhibit we'd read about in the newspaper. We only had the morning because our friends are coming to stay with us this afternoon!! Charlie found us a route by subways to near the museum (or so we thought...) and so we left right after breakfast. It was cloudy, but getting warm as the morning progressed.

We took two different subways, although the trips were barely longer than the walk to the subway station was. We consulted a map outside the Higashiyama Station & walked along the Shirakawa (White River- shira=white & kawa=river), which was festooned with blue lanterns & signs advertising a festival on the river in August.

It was lovely, although muddy from the typhoon runoff. We walked down a main road & thought we'd found the Heian Jingu, which the art museum is near, but instead found ourselves a few blocks in the wrong direction, at the Chion-in Buddhist temple. So, what the heck, we visited a temple instead! We're flexible...

Charlie read a bit to us from the guidebook, & this is the head temple of the Joudou (Pure Land) sect of Buddhism. The main gate is the largest in Japan & was built in the 1600's.

The gate was impressive, but the stairs beyond were what really impressed me.

Good grief. They were at least 8" high per step & wet & slippery to boot. Charlie helped me when things got hairy. I felt as though I was truly on a pilgrimage. Also, I was not looking forward to going back down them.

It was a very beautiful place, though.

Beanie came out for a photo op :) And there were water lilies!

There was a place where you could buy a stick of incense for 50 yen, stick it into a charcoal pile to light it, then place it in a sand-filled container & say a prayer. The scent was lovely, so I added a stick & a prayer:

The main temple is being renovated until 2019, so it's covered with a huge building & sounds of hammering came from inside:

On our way out, with me dreading the stairs down, Brendan noticed a sign that pointed to a much more reasonable exit. I was so grateful! His college Japanese classes are doing their work (he's studying how to read & write kanji as well as grammar).

On our way back to the subway station we passed Poohs?... Cafe:

We got home just in time to have bowl noodle soup for lunch & then wait for our friends to arrive.

We had seen Momo, Hiroshi,, & Aoi-chan at her school right after we arrived in Japan. They had put their trip to Kyoto off by a day because of the typhoon, but planned to arrive at Takeda Station around 1:00 pm, along with friend Hiroko-san & her 2-year-old son Nozomu-kun. We were so happy to see them when they arrived!

After they arrived & got settled, we decided to take the bus to the supermarket to buy food for dinner & breakfasts. Momo, Hiroshi, Aoi-chan, Hiroko, Nozomu-kun, & I all headed out into a newly sunny day to the bus stop. Aoi-chan is a climber, & so she climbed the bus stop:

Hiroko-san was hoping Nozomu-kun would sleep while we were out, & he finally did :)

We made it to the supermarket & back in about 1 1/2 hours, loaded down with all sorts of stuff. While we sat around & planned dinner, Charlie played finger puppets with Aoi-chan:

They were a big hit. So was the house- so many halls to run up & down!! Nozomu-kun just loves running after Aoi-chan :)

Momo & I found an extra table for the main room, so we'd all fit, & after a bit of improvising, a dinner of salad, somen noodles & cold broth, and crokke & tenpura from the supermarket was ready. The house's caretaker told us that most folks who rent it eat out all the time... the kitchen kind of seems that way, with a mish-mash of dishes, pots & pans, cups, & no knife to be found. Hiroshi went out to the 100 yen store nearby to buy a knife & cutting board.

Dinner was great! Afterward Charlie & Brendan did dishes, & I made tea so we could have it with the cupcakes Hiroko brought from Tokyo:

Both Hiroko & Momo had sent clothes & supplies here from home, so they'd have less baggage to carry, but Momo's box didn't arrive! When she called, they said maybe Monday morning...! So she & Hiroshi have borrowed extra pajamas from me & Charlie, & Momo's washing their clothes from today. Both families chose an ofuro & everybody had baths, & now they're trying to get the kids to sleep. Not easy, considering how wound-up they are from traveling :) It's so much fun to hear kids' voices here! I told Momo I was wondering how long it's been since this old house has had kids visiting.

Tomorrow the plan is to take the subway to Nara, which is not far from here. There's a famous park where the deer are so tame you can feed them crackers :) There's also the Toudai-ji, which houses the largest bronze statue of the Buddha in the world, among other sights to see. If nothing else, we'll run these kids around some :)

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