[Post-Post] Golden Week 2012: Day 1

That time is already upon us. This time last year, I had just started my job as an ESL teacher and was greatly looking forward to the week long holiday known as "Golden Week." It was going to be my chance to get settled and calm down after the whirlwind of events that seemed unceasing after the Fukushima and Tohoku disasters. However, on the first day of the break, the Town Mouse and I contracted a terrible bug from children running around the Kyoto City Zoo, and were bedridden most of the holiday. Not this year. This year, we will be avoiding the crowds, and especially children, as much as we can, even though our immune systems have had a full year to get tough against the Japanese strains of every sickness.

It was beautiful weather today, so we absolutely wanted to be outside. Despite having worked in Sakyo-ku for over a year, I have never visited Takaragaike Park, the largest community park in Kyoto City proper, so we decided to go there. We swung by Friends Food Market, a higher end gourmet grocer, where we saw this guy on the right, and picked up some food for a picnic. I suppose we sort of went overboard, and bought way too much food, but it was all very delicious, and a pleasant break from all the quick food we've been munching on lately.

The park is only about fifteen minutes from our house, with entrances on all sides, though we took the route which follows the Takano River. There is a large play park for children (which we swiftly walked through.) In a few days, it will be Children's Day, so there were koi fish flags all over the park, waving their crisp colors in the wind. The park has a long, flat trail that winds all through its borders, so is also a nice place to go for jogging or a leisurely stroll. Near the center of the park is a large pond, where boats can be rented for up to ninety minutes. There are a few concession stands which sell chilled ramune (Japanese cider) or ice cream. Turtles, ducks and koi are all over the place. We set up our picnic at the edge of the pond and just relaxed under the sun. It was so nice and so needed.

The park is also the location of the Kyoto International Conference Hall, where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. It's a pretty crazy building, architecturally. It looks like it should be a modern art museum or something.

After we'd had our fill or food and sun, we made our way back to the bicycle area. There were a few guys (yankees) setting up their motorcycles for a photo shoot, and a few geese too. I've forgotten how mean domesticated geese look. Just look at that face!

On the way home, we were starting to feel a bit overheated (maybe a bit of sun stroke?!) so we stopped at a cafe near our house for shaved ice. Ah, so good. Perhaps the one thing that will make the summer bearable. It's getting hot so quickly I'm positive it's going to be another scorcher. My friend actually told me that Japan will be putting "Cool Biz" (a campaign for businesses to keep their air conditioners off and relax dress code so that people don't need them) into effect a month early! 

Anyway, it was a great first day, even though I got a little sunburned. I think I'll mainly relax tomorrow, though I'll be able to see my friend from Cal tomorrow, Joshua, so I'm super excited!