Jan 13, 2011

vending machine nation...

no matter where you are in japan, there is never a vending machine more than 50 meters away. if your thirsty or hungry you need never fear - there is always a vending machine near. you might be walking down a traditional cobble stone street surrounded by wooden houses and zen gardens, pacing through the city or sitting on a train passing through a station that buried in complete snow. these magical electric boxes that cater for your every need and are literally everywhere you look. the reason i opted to mention this is that after our half day walking tour of kyoto today, through the traditional lantern lit streets, they did somewhat obscure the landscape and made me think that perhaps there is a right place and wrong place for them. while i continue to ponder this conundrum let me fill you in on our past few days...

after taking the cheapest and longest option we could from hakuba to kyoto (five local trains, one which we missed) our eight hour train trip ended in a cute little guesthouse that saw us in a traditional japanese room. for those of you who don't know what that means; we are sleeping on grass mats on the ground. i will add however that because it's winter, we get a thin mattress and insanely warm blankets and it's surprisingly comfortable. our first day saw us take on and conquer the nishiki food market where we sampled italian style tuna sashimi, smoked eel, sushi and home made kobe beef steamed buns. it's reputation as kyotos weird food market did not disappoint and we had a wonderful time browsing the lanes, watching vendors sell their produce, observing old biddies buying their groceries and seeing some wacky foods.

day two took us on a picnic to the kyoto botanical gardens, a stroll around the Kyoto imperial palace, to one of kyotos oldest shrines where we were lucky enough to see a cherry tree coming into blossom early and then to gion, where we did some geisha spotting (without luck) and wondered the traditional cobble stoned streets. today, as previously mentioned, we went on the lonely planet guides suggested half day walking tour and saw the kyoto one might imagine (think memoirs of a geisha). we wandered through temples and shrines, through parks and gardens lined with carp ponds and japanese maples and saw kyotos largest cherry tree. we are off to osaka tomorrow and havent had as much time here as we would have liked, needless to say, we have left things to see and do for next time...

pics. nishiki food markets and a mix from our time in kyoto.