May 31, 2016 Japan

Kyoto to Hiroshima

Aizenkobo Dye Shop – The dyer Mr. Utsuki is kindly, enjoys teaching, very relaxed and happy to share. He treated me with kindness.

His wife said the scarf I picked out was a “firefly” design. Husband said no, no. It’s “beating heart”, 35 year old design. Still new. I like it very much.

Their thread is so soft. All natural botanical dyes with few exceptions (black and bright red).

To Nishijin, Kyoto city bus #101 or #9, very comfortable when not crowded. #9 goes to Kyoto station. Neither bus goes close to my ryokan but both are good.

The ryokan owners gave me a yukata and sachets for my kimono! I gave them a little honey bear and a Trader Joe’s shopping bag. Would stay there again, only complaint is how thin the walls are. Room was nice, I had an inner room on 3rd floor with a view of the garden.

“Sakura Super Express” Shinkansen was delayed, human accident somewhere, had to take a local train from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka, then wait 40 minutes for delayed train. There’s an Australian couple near me (so tall!) with two kids, 2.5 years and 9 months. Nice family, trying to keep the kids occupied. We’re in a long, dark tunnel. There go the musical chimes, station ahead. Shin-Kobe.

Tunnels again. Not much of a view on the Sakura route. I’m hungry, didn’t get any bento at the station. The Aizenkobo couple told me Hiroshima has fresh sushi, but everything else in Kyoto is better.

I appreciate the moist towels everyone hands out in Japan. At the hotel in Nagoya when they handed me a wrapped, chilled towel at reception I thought it was a cold treat and put it in my bag for later. The receptionist gave me a strange look but said nothing. I haven’t been given a moist towel all day now and it feels strange.

Two-story homes appear to be very common out here in the country. Poly tunnels running up the hillside. Lots of farms.

Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and lawson Station are everywhere. All are good combini.

Hills are very green, heavily forested. Rarely do I see buildings on them, but electrical transformers, radio towers (?), that sort of thing are more common.

This train has been moving slowly for much of the trip. Just today, or is that normal?

Food cart lady came by, didn’t stop for me but was very polite to the man across the aisle from me. He bought a bottle of iced tea. She breezed past the Aussies, too. I’ve noticed this on previous trains. They don’t like to serve foreigners?

Shrines and cemeteries bump up against the hillsides. Roof of a shrine continues the slope up a hillside. Elegant, simple. Okayama station up next.

Conductors turn and bow as they go through the doors to leave a car. All the crew do. They look like airline crews. The women wear a white blouse with a smart scarf at the neck. Men wear uniform suits and hats.

Fukuyama station. Blah looking city, the suddenly a castle, which is blocked by the station wall just a second or two of viewing.

Seat 4-D (window) in car 6, reserved seating but not the more luxurious Green Car which is half of car 6. Not complaining, these seats are roomy and comfortable, and they recline. Napped a bit. So many tunnels, didn’t miss much. Station arrival music woke me up. As it is supposed to.

Sitting in the hotel lobby. Dragged my 80 pounds of luggage in after a bus dropped me at Peace Park, half a mile away from the hotel. Momiji Tour Bus, free with JR pass, good for sightseeing. Big red bus, hard to miss. Pick up at train station.

Came into the lobby red faced and dripping with sweat after walking from the bus. The desk clerk smiled and treated me kindly, even though I’m sure he found me repugnant. Would blame him. I was a mess. Shower, dress, and a touch of makeup and I’m ready to go for a business dinner meeting.

Brought wine, little honey bears, and Kyoto treats for my business associates. Cheap gifts, which makes me feel inadequate, but what can I do?

I think it was difficult for me to write in Kyoto because there was so much to take in. I write when there is nothing else to do. I’m sitting down, and my brain starts to unreel the things I’ve seen.

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