Monday, 30th October 2017
This is a busy one, we had to be up at 7 so we could get to Umenomiya Taisha for 9am as it's on the opposite side of Kyoto. We had booked a shinto vow-renewal ceremony through a company called Wrapped In Japan which included dressing in kimonos, having hair and makeup done, tons of photography in the beautiful gardens of the shrine and then having our marriage blessed.
We took a taxi to the shrine because it would take half the time the train would and we met our contact Yurie Oba at the front gates. She showed us into the shrine and to the dressing room where we were introduced to the ladies who would do our make up and dress us in our Edo-era clothing. I would wear a kimono, and Ben would wear a samurai style yukata; though a much finer and luxurious one than the one we got to try before at Samurai Kembu.
My hair involved adding black hair extensions with grips, hairspray and what felt like wire to attach jewellery and tiaras to my head. It was very meticulous but I couldn't see what was happening as I didn't have my glasses on. Makeup involved several layers of creams and powders and adding black eyeliner around my eyes. Ben didn't have any makeup, but he did get hair extensions to be styled in a topknot.
Before dressing I was told to make use of the bathroom, I'm guessing because it's nigh on impossible to do so when in what felt like 20 layers of embroidered clothing. So far I had managed to avoid Japanese style toilets but not today, it was difficult and I bashed my head on the wall knocking the jewelled tiara like hairpiece out of place. I had to go back to the room holding it saying 'Sumimasen!' and they didn't mind at all, the master kimono dresser whacked it back in really easily.
After we had finished the ceremony and got back to the dressing room the lovely kimono dresser had brought in lunch to celebrate Ben's birthday. So we sat on the balcony overlooking the pond and ate tamago (rolled omelette), takenoko (bamboo) and some sweet tasting rice in an egg pouch. Ben tried the bamboo and said it seemed like a cross between pineapple and a potato.
We won't get our photos for a while, so you'll have to wait and see.
Yurie-san booked us a taxi to get to Arashiyama to see the Bamboo Grove since we were in the right area.
The streets around the bamboo grove were very busy since it was the middle of the day, we bought some street snacks (curry bread, yakitori, steamed meat bun and potato croquette) to eat while we headed up the hill towards the bamboo.
The sheer amount of bamboo and the height was awe inspiring and it felt very tranquil even though there were hundreds of tourists following.
The bamboo had taken a battering from the typhoons and there were several sections with very bent trees, and some that had landed on telephone wires. The relative tranquility of the grove was occasionally interrupted by a worker with a chainsaw as they removed the broken bamboo.
At the top of the hill we found a private garden called Okochi Sanso, which was the private home and garden of a famous Japanese actor, Denjiro Okochi. This garden was a one-way walk that was very beautiful through small winding paths up and down the mountain side.
At the end there is a tea shop which serves matcha tea and a matcha flavoured filled wafer sweet, this is in with the ticket price you paid to get in. I'm not really a fan of matcha and the sweet was odd - I think it was matcha flavoured potato because the texture was similar to other potato sweets we've had.
We then followed a road out of the bamboo grove and to Jojakko-Ji Temple where Ben took a lot of photos of trees.
Yesterday we bought tickets for Gear to see the show at 7pm. We had to arrive at 6pm to pay and pick up our tickets and we went and found somewhere to eat while waiting for the doors to open.
We chose to go to Shakey's, an all you can eat pizza buffet restaurant, which we felt was ideal for the short timeslot we had. The pizza was very tasty although the toppings were slightly different to what we were used to, I picked a couple I recognised like tuna and one with sausage and chilli's. They also served sides like sausages, chicken meatballs and fried potato slices. For dessert it was also pizza, and I ate a slice of one with custard and chocolate sauce.
Disaster struck halfway through dinner, Ben's cap on his front tooth had disappeared, likely to have been swallowed. So he didn't get to eat any more pizza for fear of irritating the nerve. Luckily Google helped us find an international-friendly, multi-lingual dentist that was still open so we managed to get an appointment for 12pm the next day.
Gear (www.gear.ac/en) was amazing, it's a non-verbal play set in an old abandoned toy factory inhabited by 4 robots who don't realise the factory is no longer in operation and so continue to work. It had aspects of dancing, mime, magic and circus tricks and the storyline was easy to follow even though it was totally done through expressions and actions.
We didn't take photos during the show, but here's the stage before it started.
Since it is Ben's birthday tomorrow he was given a voucher for 1000 yen off in their store which we bought a program with. On the way out we were greeted a 'Happy Halloween' by a witch handing out sweets.
This is our last night in Kyoto and in the morning we are going to finally do Fushimi Inari. The weather forecast looks great and we intend on getting there early so we went back to our hotel.
Back at the hotel our host Kurata-san was waiting for us, he had looked up the trains for Koya-san to see if there were any outages after the 2 typhoons hit. There does appear to be a short area where trains aren't running but he found out they are running a replacement shuttle bus.
We thanked Kurata-san and went to bed.