Monday, January 23, 2012

This peppermint winter is so sugar-sweet.

Just after the New Year, Matt and I made our way down to Kyoto for a day trip. Our good friend Leonard was flying back to the states from Hong Kong, and decided to stop in Japan to see us! If circumstances were better we would have met up in Tokyo, but Kyoto is always nice, and much closer. We drove about an hour south to a major train station, and then took the local lines down to the city.

The trouble was, it was still high travel season, thanks to the New Year's festivities. Kyoto Station was crazy, all the restaurants had long waits, etc. Somehow we managed to squeeze into a cute udon restaurant near Kiyomizudera. The food was very good. I’m more of a soba/ramen girl myself, but big bowl of udon is nice every once in a while.

After lunch, we took a walk around the historic district, near the temple. We took a few photos here and there, but the crowds convinced us to relax in Leonard’s hotel room for the afternoon to catch up with each other. I might’ve had some champagne, too! I won’t say how much. Here's some great photos, courtesy of Leonard's glorious camera! (someday, someday...)

( Click the link below to read the rest! )

Yep, gotta sew that button back on...

Couple photo! Matt looks disinterested, but at least I look cute :P

As it started to get dark, Matt and I came to a decision point. We decided to turn our day trip into a mini-vacation! Matt whipped out his phone and booked us an inexpensive hotel room near Kyoto Tower. It’s one of the most impulsive things we’ve ever done (bye-bye, rainy day money!) but worth it. For the rest of the evening, the three of us spent time at an arcade, had Italian for dinner, and saw a movie – The Adventures of TinTin -- IN ENGLISH.

Overall it was really nice to see Leonard, and we’re happy he came to visit! Sometimes it feels like we live a lifetime away from everyone else back in America, so a familiar face was reassuring and refreshing.

The next day we decided to make the most out of our mini-vacation by doing some sightseeing, since that’s what you’re supposed to do in Kyoto. We made our way to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. Much of the city is very old, so the trains and subways don’t go everywhere. We took a bus instead, which ended up being very crowded and slow and took a long time. At least we finally got to our destination, where it started to snow!

Hello Kitty phone strap I picked up at the おみやげ (souvenier) shop.

 We decided to go somewhere else, and waited forever at the bus stop. Suddenly, I heard familiar voices, and…! It turned out our good friends Jess and Brian (the couple from Okayama) were there with Brooke, Jess’s sister! This was completely by chance, so we decided to rearrange our plans for the afternoon since we don’t see them very often! Jess was on a mission to eat lunch at Tofu House. We started to walk in the general direction, but then a Japanese man started conversing with Jess and ended up leading us through a park, a shrine, and over to a small festival!

Still, us girls wanted to try Tofu House, so we ditched the guys for a little bit. I ordered a basic lunch set, which contained various tofu dishes that I had never seen. Some of them were tasty, some were okay, and some were questionable. I tried everything, though.

After meeting up again at the festival (I had taiyaki for dessert), we made our way to a bus stop, and managed to get seats on the bus. We parted ways at Kyoto Station. Matt and I went shopping at Jupiter, the foreign food store for some basics (soft tacos, hot chocolate, etc.) and then took the local train back up north. The closer we got to home, the heavier the snow! Somehow though, it didn’t drop very much where we live.

Speaking of snow, the past few weeks have been quite mild – mainly just the usual rain, rain, rain. For a few days there, we didn’t even have that! This week the snow should be picking up, though. Matt has been anxiously waiting for good boarding conditions. I was at my base JHS today, so he took the car while I was at work, and went to one of the nearby mountains. He said the slopes are comparable to ones he's been to in Colorado, so I'll be trying it out soon!

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