I am trying to get caught up with these posts. I’ve been too tired in the evenings to write, so each was written the following morning until yesterday when I had 2 days worth to write. After I write this post and finish packing I am going on another short trip; just one night, but I have a feeling I’ll come back 2 days behind again. In any case, I’ll probably be absent for a day.
Getting back to yesterday, it was another beautiful day and I took myself off to revisit Taizo-in, another of my favorite gardens. I arrived to find traffic cops in front of the temple complex: not a good sign. Temples are usually quiet, sleepy places in no need of traffic direction. Taizo-in was having a special opening to show off its cherry blossoms and I arrived with what seemed like hundreds of Japanese all armed with cameras. I’m not about to tell you cameras are bad, but all these people needed to take pictures of their wives/girlfriends in front of the weeping cherry just as you enter. Made for quite a backup.
I wandered through, more than a little disappointed with the crowds and suddenly they abated and I was able to sit and enjoy most of the garden. The cherry blossoms focus attention to different viewpoints than did the red maple leaves.
Sento Palace is part of the Kyoto Imperial Palace. Tours have to be arranged in advance, which I did on Monday. You don’t get to see inside the palace, which was created for retired emperors. The tour took us around the garden, not as great as the garden inside the Imperial Palace walls, but very nice, indeed. There were about 50 of us on the tour and we had a guide who spoke only in Japanese, so I was able to ignore her, and a keeper who remained at the back of the group to make sure no one stayed behind. At one point we had to cross a small stream by walking on rocks and I couldn’t do it. He saw my distress and motioned me to wait, then helped me get across. Very nice.
After all that I got on a bus and went to the main shopping area, to another of those covered arcades, Nishiki Market, filled with food shops. Most of it did not interest me: too much preserved, pickled and salty stuff. One place was selling salads and prepared foods. I thought I saw brussel sprouts and got very excited. I bought a small container and also a piece of eggplant. The eggplant was OK; more sauce on it than I like, but the brussel sprouts weren’t. I don’t know what they were, but they weren’t vegetables. Something made into small balls and covered with another unidentifiable green sauce. Sometimes I don’t see so well, or maybe it was because I wanted them to be vegetable.
The hotel offers free Japanese language lessons 2 evenings a week and I’ve been taking them. I am not learning many new words, but I’ve been able to ask questions about many of the mystery things. I found out, for instance, the green stuff I’ve been eating is not spinach, but a different green called komastuna, which has similar properties to spinach and can be eaten raw or cooked. Now I can look for it raw, which I would prefer.
I don’t have time to add pictures this morning. I have to get out of here, but I’ll get back to it later. Now I am off to Koyasan, a mountain filled with Buddhist temples, where I will sleep on the floor again and have two, entirely vegetarian meals.
I never mentioned it, but I love your new blog layout. Its simple lines are a look I truly favor. Maybe I’ll have to steal and use it in Wintersong. Are you losing weight eating all those veggies and things you don’t recognize? You’re being very brave about it.
Wonderful that the crowds abated and that you survive the foods. I’ve been without a computer, but am online today and am avidly am following your adventures.