Moving Mountains: Kyoto

I made Nicky this little goat from scratch, using Japanese instructions- I’m so proud of myself!

Well, Tuesday was the big day~ Nicky’s last day in Hamadayama, and our subsequent eight-hour bus ride to Kyoto starting at 11:00pm. Nicky had to leave her house in Hamadayama by 3pm, so I headed over there after school with Erin, who offered to help us lug all the heavy stuff. We had lunch at her apartment before the inspection officer came, which is when I gave Nicky her goat charm too, and then began the journey of lugging all of Nicky’s stuff to the train station. Of course, at the halfway point, we realized that we were still going to have to lug all of her stuff through Shinjuku station to the meeting point, so flagged down a taxi and paid the $30 for the trip to Shinjuku.

This turned out to be the best thing we could have done, as it only got harder from there. We had to wait on the corner of a street in Shinjuku for six hours in the heat, though thankfully I had gotten some bug spray so we didn’t have to deal with the mosquitos too. For dinner, I found a curry takeout place and got us each a small indian curry with naan and iced chai, though the chai was kind of off in flavor, like a Glad plug-in had been dropped into the kettle or something. In any case, we found out at 10:30pm that we had been waiting on the wrong corner when a couple of nice guys asked if we were okay. After moving to the proper area, we waited a little longer while the bus staff got the bus ready- Nicky found a praying mantis on the sidewalk, and after it allowed us to watch its peculiar dance (which strangely resembles a traditional Japanese dance), it spread its wings and proceeded to attack Nicky’s face! We had a good laugh over that and then grabbed her luggage to board the bus.

Willer Express is basically what you’d expect. A bus crammed full of people you don’t know and curtains to block the light so you can sleep. Every two and a half hours, it stops so everyone can use the bathroom- I was reminded of the roadtrip my family went on when I was younger, since I was pretty well adapted to the ride down there. I could sleep, and was in pretty good shape when we got to Kyoto, if feeling a little dirty and groggy. I don’t think Nicky had the same sort of experience ^^;;;.

We finally got to meet Iwai (our landlord) at 7am on Wednesday. He had kept telling me his car was small, but I wasn’t expecting the Porsche he drove up in.... Thankfully we were able to fit all of Nicky’s luggage into his car, before he drove us to our new apartment. I unfortunately forgot my camera, so couldn’t take pictures, but the apartment is nice in its location, if the premises themselves are a little cramped. Our apartment is 23m, but there isn’t a closet, or a veranda, so we’ll have to live a bit creatively with our space. We’ll also have to figure out where to put our luggage all year. But, for the price we’re paying, it’s cozy and livable, especially since what we wanted is the experience- the apartment is just a place to sleep. We certainly got what we asked for. The apartment is ten minutes from Doshisha by bike, and a block away there is a fun street market, just like Sugamo’s. You can walk pretty much anywhere in Kyoto from there too, so I’m excited. Also, Iwai will let us keep pets, so Nicky and I are thinking of fostering a cat.

After we went through the contract, Iwai offered to show us around Kyoto. He bought us some mochi at a small shop nearby that was super tasty, and explained where the post office is, how to sort our trash and so on. (Japan has a crazy recycling system). Afterwards, he graciously let us return to our apartment to take a nap- I think we must have looked very tired, because he suggested we take a nap pretty strongly. We crashed after taking a shower for about three hours, which unfortunately only felt like twenty minutes or so, since when I woke up, I had that really bad dehydrated feeling.

We had time to kill before I would have to go back to Tokyo, so we forced ourselves up at around 4pm to go exploring again. The recycle shop (think thrift store) where we were looking to purchase some furniture only took cash, so we had to make the journey to the Citibank in the downtown area before we could buy anything. On the way we stopped at a police box for directions, and the officer there was very helpful in pointing us in the right direction. I was really proud of myself today, because we found the Citibank without a map, in a new city, and on so little sleep without getting lost at all.

On the way to Citibank, we found three separate bike shops and found one place that was selling used bikes for only $60 a piece. They took Visa, so we each bought a bike to save on train and bus fares for the rest of the year. I got a cute orange bicycle and Nicky got a light green one. We also went back to the recycle shop and bought three different shelves, and then we went to the dollar store to stock up on everything else household related. All we need now for furniture is a standing closet and maybe a shoe rack.

When we got back to our apartment, we discovered that the shade wasn’t going to be strong enough to block the sun when it rises in the morning, and since Nicky has been having a really hard time sleeping, getting new curtains became a priority. Nicky was looking really beat, so I ventured out on my own this time to get curtains. I found this shop a couple of blocks away with a really nice woman who helped me find a curtain that was both on sale and large enough (I need to learn the meter system...) I took my prize back home and put them up for Nicky, and finally feeling like she wouldn’t be needing while I was gone, I allowed myself to relax for the last few hours I was there. We had a dinner of ramen, milk tea and takoyaki (fried octopus, mm!!), and then spent an hour or so going through a furniture catalog before I grabbed my duffle to head back to the station for the ride back to Tokyo.

I almost didn’t catch the bus because I’d gotten so used to Tokyo trains that come every four or five minutes (Kyoto trains only come every 30 minutes), but did manage to get there just in time to board. The ride back was pretty painful, as I didn’t get much sleep at all and I didn’t feel comfortable relaxing next to a person I didn’t know. By the time I got to Shinjuku at 6am, I was wiped. However, I still had class to go to, so I stumbled over to the train and then to Mejiro, where I walked to campus, put on some makeup to hide the fact that I hadn’t just fallen off a bus, and napped until my classmates arrived. I managed to make it through class, and then came home and just slept.

I really can’t wait until I get to stay in Kyoto permanently!