Sunday, 29th October 2017
It's raining very heavily again because another typhoon has hit Japan and we've got up particularly late due to the horrible biliary colic I had last night until 6am.
We had planned to climb Fushimi Inari this morning but it's best to get there early and it definitely wasn't early any more, plus it was absolutely chucking it down.
Ben created a plan that involved the least amount of walking in the rain while we ate dry Japanese Frosties and then we set off for the largest temple in Kyoto, Higashi Honganji. It was an easy subway ride away and I picked up a hot drink of Royal Milk Tea out of one of the vending machines. It's quite strange getting a small hot 'pop' bottle of tea, it was nice and satisfied my need for a cup of tea although it was quite milky and sugary so not one you could drink all the time.
Higashi Honganji's temple complex is very large and has several huge buildings full of ornate decoration.
At the steps to each building was a plastic bag dispenser for you to put your shoes in and carry them around with you. It also had long thin bags to wrap your umbrella - although not in one of the clever automatic machines we've found in most department stores.
Unfortunately we have no photos of the insides of the buildings due to not being allowed to take any photographs. The temples appeared to be in use so it was probably a good idea not to have hundreds of tourists snapping shots.
We'd found a stamp station, but it told us that there were 3 different ones, so we had to find the other two which took us to the other buildings on the site.
There were various displays such as a glass box holding a huge rope made of human hair and a very large wooden sled. These items were instrumental in building the temple since human hair rope was much stronger than other of the time and the sled was how they got the large trees required down from the mountains.
We also found this, we think it's a ceremonial drum.
Did we mention it was raining a lot?
Once we'd found the third stamp and looked through all of the exhibition space, we decided we would go to a show called Gear which Ben said was nearby. On the way there, we passed through Kyoto Station and so we stopped at Yodobashi for lunch and browsed their enormous camera department.
We ate at an Italian restaurant, where I had Chicken Peperoncino and Ben had Hamburger Omurice. I was a little disappointed at how oily my pasta was since I picked it thinking it would be the least greasy and so less likely to upset my stomach. The Hamburger Omurice was a large omelette stuffed with rice and topped with 2 mini hamburgers and gravy.
We caught a bus towards Kawaramachi for the Gear show but there seemed to be a large parade or protest that meant our bus got stuck and so we were late and missed getting tickets. This was quite annoying but we found we were in a very nice shopping district and so had fun browsing around the different fan and tenugui shops while walking back towards historic Gion and Gion Corner.
Gion Corner has 2 shows each night at 18:00 and 19:00 where you get to see traditional Japanese arts. Our navigation took us to the back of the place and so we had to walk round the block before we found the entrance and a long queue of people. It was then we found out it was cash only and luckily we had just enough for 2 tickets.
The Maiko for the performance was called Mamechika and she performed Kyomai or Kyoto Style Dance.
We also got to see/hear Chado (Tea Ceremony), Koto (Japanese Harp), Kado (Japanese Flower Arranging), Gagaku (Court Music), Kyogen (Comic Play) and Bunraku (Puppet Play).
The Chado, Koto and Kado all happened simulataneously since they didn't require your undivided attention. Gagaku never caught on with the general public and after hearing it I'm pretty sure I can see why. It was very 'cat screeching' to my uncultured ears but the person dressed up and dancing to the music was fun to watch.
The Kyogen was funny, and we were given the English translation so we could follow along. It's a short sketch about 2 workers who are tricked and tied up by their Lord so they wouldnt be able to steal his saki whilst he was gone. Of course, they find a way anyway, and he catches them red-handed. Exit stage right, pursued by a Lord.
Finally the Bunraku was impressive to see, the puppet was being controlled by three people, two dressed all in black including over their heads and one with his head uncovered. The story followed a woman who raises a false fire alarm to save the life of her beloved.
It was nice to see snippets of the different styles, as we can now decide if we want to see some longer performances. I wasn't too keen on the theatre as it had virtually no rake for most of the rows, the back 3/4 had a small amount. It just meant you couldn't see as much, especially as photography was allowed - you had to watch through a sea of selfie sticks.