Two exhausting days

March 16

The day started extra early with an earthquake at 4:20.  Short, but enough to wake us up and make going back to sleep impossible.  It was a magnitude 5.2 in the neighboring prefecture.  That was it for me, no going back to sleep after that. http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/3/20120316043020384-160420.html

We were planning on an early start, just not quite that early!  We cleaned up the house and headed out at about 8 to allow a little playground time on our way to the train.  We got on the first train at 8:45 and were in transit until we got to Kyoto at 1:15 pm.  Total distance, about 545 km.  We had a good view of mount Fuji, but by the time we got the camera out, we were in a different valley and the smog was too thick to see through.  Jill did what she could to rescue a picture

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Once we arrived in Kyoto, a 20 minute taxi ride got us to our rental apartment, right on the river.  Miwa fell asleep in the taxi, so we had to do some juggling to get everything to our house without waking her up.  The house is a pretty neat little set-up, basically a 15×25 footprint, half loft.  Kitchen and living in the high ceiling area, sleeping in the loft, and washroom/shared laundry below the loft.  It doesn’t sound like the roof is insulated, and judging by the thickness, neither are the walls.  I don’t understand why houses in Japan are not insulated.  Every house has heat pumps and kerosene or gas heaters, so clearly people are cold.  Oh well.

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Went for a walk to get some groceries, but for some reason, we were all exhausted so when we got back, we just sat around the house for a couple hours before going to get dinner from the local convenience store and falling asleep watching Doraemon.
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March 17

It was raining so, we started out the day with the modest ambition of finding one specific store Jill had found on the internet.  We took our time getting to the subway station, purposely wandering through back streets to look into peoples yards.  We took the subway to Teramachi dori, a large complex of covered streets with many small shops.  We found the store we were looking for right away, and it definitely had something for both of us.  The store hand makes small sewing kits, which is what drew Jill to it in the first place as well as the jewel box garden.  I really liked the small garden in front of the shop, and the way it was tucked in to a busy shopping district.  Even Miwa liked the garden, “We should build this at our house!”

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We wandered through the shopping area for an hour or so, until Miwa fell asleep on my shoulders.

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It had stopped raining, so we headed outdoors again.  We stopped to re-fuel at an outdoor food stand selling deep fried chicken in a cup.  Delicious!

We were feeling pretty good, and the weather was getting better, so we headed across the river to the historic area of Gion, where Geisha still practice their trade.  While we were there we also visited Yasaka Shrine where Miwa ran around like a maniac.

Basically we spent 4 hours and covered about 6km looking at old buildings and gardens, after 2 hours and 2 km of shopping.  I think our modest ambitions for the day were well exceeded!  Oddly, the most photographed thing we saw was probably this pissed off cat.  There were 12 people crowded around snapping pics.  I was sure someone was going to lose an eye!

Oh, and then, after a brief rest at home, we went looking for dinner, and ended up walking around for another hour and a half.

We finished off the day watching a TV program where a guy dressed up in an animal suit and tried to touch the animal he was dressed as.  The only exception was when he pretended to be a dead zebra and waited for wild African dogs to try to eat him.  THe animals he impersonated, and managed to touch, were a Giraffe, a Crocodile, and a Bengal Tiger.  The crocodile dragged him partly into the water before people could rescue him, and the tiger smacked him in the head.  It made for oddly compelling TV.

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