søndag den 22. juli 2007

Thursday Nov. 2 - Sophisticated Kyoto

I stay at ‘Taro Café’ for the next five nights, while exploring a town that seems to contain all I wanted and expected of Japan. ‘Taro’ is cool, at 3,000 yen per night very cheap, unlike – say – a place nearby, which has a Rolls Royce parked in the lobby and rents out rooms on a two-hourly basis. Only the second night in Kyoto Taro doesn’t have room for me, so much to my annoyance I have to go to the local youth hostel. It’s not that I can’t deal with brain dead youngsters, but staying at a place with a 10.30 p.m. curfew, and other rules like that, is below my 51-year old dignity. Then again, it was that or pitching my tent under the bridges, next to the homeless. In any case I have to get up early, to go to a vintage bike rally.

Before that I walk around town, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s so unlike Tokyo: Old buildings stand next to new ones, shops sell elaborate shrines for your home (800,000 yen being a typical price tag), and mainly there’s all the natives, quite a few of whom walk around in sandals and wear traditional kimonos. It just looks so elegant, and I’m downright envious that our Western culture does not have this. By this I mean traditional Japanese style – having my neighbours trot around wearing Danish folk costumes would be most unbearable. Had I known Kyoto would be like this, I might have checked out the possibilities of shipping the bike and myself to here, instead of to Tokyo.

When the old bike thing tomorrow is done with, it’ll be temple-touring for a day or three, as Kyoto has 2,000 of them. I may just see the most spectacular ones. But then there’s the general architecture, where I see bits of Amsterdam, with lots of narrow tall houses next to each other, and where they all seem so much better designed and kept than their equivalents in the current capitol.

Round off the evening drinking with other Westerners – some French, some Canadians and one American, who is so incredibly pissed off with Bush and his clan, that I almost feel like defending the bastard. Almost.

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