Greetings from Kyoto. No pics tonight – the ryokan has wonky internet so I`m on the house machine with a kana keyboard…
Quite a full day today. As always when I`m here, lots of interactions with thoughtful locals. Like the salaryman at Shinagawa who offered to help me when I was waiting for JR to start their rail pass services (not till 9, for some odd reason). A very nice lady in line at JR who actually lives in LA now, but is pricing properties in Tokyo because values have gone down so much.
When I checked in here, the young man asked me “Aren`t you scared?” It was the first real indication of things being different this time. I explained to him that I wasn’t scared – that I didn’t believe everything I heard on the news, and that Kyoto was 600 miles from Fukushima and it seemed perfectly safe to me. But you can tell people here are really hurting – the sensationalistic coverage has made a bad situation worse for people in areas that should be totally unaffected. And it did seem that I saw a lot fewer gaijin in Kyoto than I’m used to seeing.
In terms of sightseeing, the bulk of the day was spent in Uji. The Phoenix Hall there is over 950 years old, one of the oldest and most splendid wooden buildings in the world. They’re also known for spectacular green tea, which I can vouch for after today. The first sakura have poked their heads out – we’re not in full bloom yet by any means, but the hanami parties have already started. Kyoto always has something going on, and tonight they had Yasaka Jinja and the surrounding park all lit up, with matsuri-style booths and tarps set up for nighttime sakura viewing – some of which was already happening. This is really a city that places a high value on enjoying the finer things in life.
Wish I had pics – maybe tomorroｗ。