oday was our free day in Kyoto – our final full day. So we each picked something we wanted to do. JB went for the Ryoanji Temple with its internationally famous racked gardens.
So, while JB was getting ready, I hit the streets on an errand – I needed to pick up a little spending-yen, about $50 would carry us for the day, I figured. The thing was, on the ATM machine in the nearby 7-11, I got the number of zeroes mixed up and pulled $500 (i.e. 50,000 yen) by accident. No way I needed this amount of money. I figured we’d just have to convert it back somehow (the ATM machine wouldn’t handle that). So, smooth move, that. (Remember this – it will be an element in our final story from this set).
After collecting JB, we talked to the front desk and figured out how to get to Ryoanji – bus 12 would carry us right there, though the map wasn’t quite clear – it was more focused on bus routes than actual geography. So we were down the street, around the corner and just hitting stop D when bus 12 showed up. Hopped aboard and off we went. Thank goodness for Yagi-san – we knew how to get on and pay off the bus.
So we rolled along on a packed bus (and, mind you, it was 9am on a Sunday). Got to the point that looked close on the map and bailed off. Then we started to walk. And walk. And walk. Eventually we found a sign – Ryoanji: 790 M. Are you kidding me? That was just short of a half-mile. Not feeling like walking eight football fields, we crossed the road at the next stop. Bus 59, it turned out, actually went to Ryoanji – there was even a note on the route board that stated this fact; most reassuring. So we hopped on the next bus and payed about $2.30 to ride one stop. Well worth it.
Ryoanji Temple was a peaceful place, so much so that I cannot describe it. Raked gravel gardens and standing stones. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:
Afterwards, the museum ticket ladies told us where the towards-town bus stop was. Again, route 59, but it didn’t take us near the hotel. As we boarded the bus, I looked over the map and realized if we stuck to that bus (rather than transferring to 12) we would slide past the north side of town, crossing the subway line the Manga Museum was on (my choice. Like, no shit, right?). Anyway, it was a smooth transition and we were down to the museum without any hassles.
Okay, for those who don’t know, Manga is (essentially) Japanese comic books (or ‘graphic novels’, if it makes you feel better). They are massive in Japan and growing more popular worldwide. They have stories for every taste and age, from silly kiddy stories to erotic love stories. I’ve read a couple series and have always found them interesting. And, by the way, you read from right to left. Next time you are at your local Barnes and Noble, go into the scifi section and check them out – you’ll see shelves with complete series (20-30 issues, even more).
Anyway, the museum is located in a refurbished school. The entire front is AstroTurfed and tree-shaded, and on this lawn a hundred or more people were out reading manga from the museum shelves. We saw older ladies, kids (of course), whole families, even moms pointing to pictures for their toddlers. It was just scholastically impressive (and makes the pretentious loungers in Barnes and Noble look like pikers). Anyway, this place had many shelves of full releases. I sat on one comfortable bench and flipped through the original Akira (Neo Tokyo is about to Explode!). Stunning. Even JB followed along as I told her the storyline. And we watched trailers for new anime flicks (based on original manga). Then we had lunch in the café outside – their gimmick is that every time a famous artist visits to speak, he leaves a doodle on the café wall. We saw works by the creator of Lupin and One Punch Man. Even (I think) Miyasaki (i.e. the Spirited Away guy, for you B&N pikers). After lunch and a yogurt swirl, I asked JB (since there was nothing else to do and it had just gone 3pm) if we could each get a translated manga off the English shelf and stretch out and read on the lawn. She agreed!
I picked a book titled Afterschool Charisma, where a boy goes into a high school full of historically-generated clones. And it’s like no high school you’ve ever seen, what with a moody Joan (of Arc), a sneering Freud, a haughty Mozart and a pleasant (yet spooky) Hitler. I read through the first book in about an hour. JB read something titled Honey and Clover which she enjoyed and would like to see an anime adaptation (if one exists). So we’ll see.
Anyway, now we are up in our room. I’ve just finished concluding these notes (28 full pages from a small binder book) We have confirmation of our airport shuttle at 1pm tomorrow. All there is to do is to pack. I think this concludes our trip I hope you enjoyed my account. I’ll only add more if something interesting happens.
Fun Fact: I noticed this while at the Manga Museum – Japanese are easier with sitting on flat surfaces. We westerners, we need chairs. When JB and I spread out on the lawn with our magazines, it was a little hard on the body. Lay on my back? My arms get tired overhead. Lay on my stomach? My back hurts as I hold myself up. My side? No pillow. But the Japanese, they sat naturally for hours. Us? We looked like puppets with cut strings.