After the shrine, Jenn, Dad and I joined back up with Mom and John to go visit a castle right in the middle of Kyoto, 二条城 (ni-jyou-jyou, 'Second Street Castle' -- I'll just call it Nijyo from here). I burned out on Japanese castles years ago when I first came, and was feeling tired after the morning's hike, and so don't actually have any real photos of the castle area. Instead, here's one of my parents and brother trapped in a Japanese street, looking like tourists.

金閣寺

After the castle we moved to one of Japan's more famous views, 金閣寺 (Kinkaku-ji, "the golden temple"). Careful not to get Kinkaku-ji mixed up with Ginkaku-ji, the garden we saw the day before.

A good photographer might make Kinkaku-ji look like this

but our visit lacked for both snow and sky. I did walk away with more photos than I did at the castle though.

Of course, I wasn't the only person taking photos out there.

a bird on a rock preening!

嵐山

Our last destination for day two was Arashiyama ("storm mountain"), which I remember being (keep in mind I'm writing this half a year after the fact) quite the bus ride, with transfers at places that weren't even real bus stops, in the middle of nowhere. We made it none-the-less, even with my getting us off at the wrong final stop. Arashiyama is a small area near the mountains with a great bridge over a wide river flowing towards the city. The houses in the area are kept in a historic-looking state, but we arrived so late (and exhausted) that we really didn't look at much more than the river and view around it.

That's Jenn and fam in the red

the yama of arashiyama

The Night Ends(?)

We took a fun and cute little train back to Kyoto central and called it a night. People were tired, but Jenn's time in Japan was coming to a close. She and I went out to a little bar I had found near the major shopping district in Kyoto. It has fun memories - when Gary visited me in Kyoto during the summer I took him there; we drank and were merry. Later again I took my friend Kevin there for his birthday. We drank heartily, then met up with five or so girls and went to my first club, an adventure that ended with my worst hangover ever. Five dollars for a half cup of water?!

The photo isn't good, but nostalgia doesn't require focus, subjects, canvassing, backgrounds, or anything like that.

As much as we may have wanted to party it up, and as little as we may have wanted to admit it to ourselves, Jenn and I were devoid of energy. It wasn't too terribly long before we headed to the hotel and slept.

Wait wait wait. Is that right? Did we? Or was this the night?

Oh god I think this was the night.

So, over the summer I met the sweetest girl named Nellie, who I'm happy to report at least feigns friendship for me and whom I think of quite dearly. She was living in Osaka while I was up in Sendai, but was visiting friends in Kyoto while my family and Jenn and I were there. This night, Jenn and I met up with her for some drinks.

We went to a bar with an interesting name on a whim; inside was a few other foreigners and a pretty lively crowd. Jenn, Nellie and I took a table towards the back and had ourselves a beer. Not halfway through our first pint did a sleazy seeming guy walk up and say something about how he couldn't help but notice we were speaking English over in our corner and try to worm his way into our conversation

Clearly, he was after my wummen.

All my angry and distrusting glares aside, he somehow snaked his way into the seat across from me next to Nellie. We kept talking, and, okay, this guy was actually a good fun fella who found himself alone at night in Kyoto and just wanted some friends. Whoops. You can't call 'em all.

Anyways, Matt, Nellie, and Jenn and I kept having fun, and the bar kept getting louder, and louder, and louder. Somehow we had turned into a gaijin bar, and the foreigners were packing it in. One ripped, handsome Spanish man bumped into our table, apologized, did his thing in the washroom, and came back and apologized more, this time with drinks. His accent and pecs had my full attention, so I can't imagine how the ladies were feelin', mrowrr.

He and a friend were essentially world-travelling wine / security business men / bachelors who got together every so often in exotic locales and got things plain damn rowdy in there. I'm pretty sure Jenn fell in love with at least one of these handsome devils, and they put enough beers in me to have me convinced of their sainthood. The bar was getting ridiculous - I'm not sure if there was anyone who didn't get at least one drink from the gents.

Meanwhile, a young German backpacker was doing his best to get Nellie to at the least give him a kiss, and if at all possible have a look at his hostel. It started out cute, but when he couldn't take a hint, got rather rude and not so bueno, as our jovian friends would've put it.

Well, we were there for awhile, things were quite silly, and more than a little fun. OH! Sebastian. That was the name of the German kid - I ran into him again by chance in Tokyo a couple of days later, but that's a story for another post.

I'd tell you more of the night, if only I remembered it (er, half year, that's why, not Spanish beer). Jenn and I had a great time that evening, but damned if we didn't regret it in the morning when we got on a train and hiked around Nara, the most ancient of Japan's capitals and a great place for temple sightseeing, followed by a reunion with Nellie at my host mother's house for dinner. Tell you all about that in the next post!