Journeys in Japan Pt 5
- New Friends -
On my second day in Kyoto I decided to brave the rain and go on a hike through a mountain trail that would take me from Kurama to Kibune, both small towns north of Kyoto. At first the walk was pleasant, albeit strenuous, but as soon as the I entered the dirt trails higher up into the mountains, I became weary of the various insects that seemed to want to eat me alive (the sign at the entrance of the path warning of all the various poisonous insects and animals didn’t help my paranoia), and there was a certain black flying bug that would not stop following me. Because of this hike I now realize how much I dislike bugs, although I probably was being unreasonably afraid. I hurried as quickly as I could down the path to Kibune, at this point just wanting the hike to be done with. I got to the town tired, soaked and hungry (for some reason I didn’t think to eat anything before the hike), and because of the rain most of the restaurants were shut and to make things worse I realized that the walk to the station was actually quite far, about 1.5 miles, so I hurried on and eventually was on the train back.
Turns out I took the wrong train and instead of heading back to Kyoto station, I was back at the very beginning in Kurama, which was not so bad as there was a famous onsen (hot spring bath) in the area that I wanted to try, and so 15 minutes later I was soaking in an rotenburo (outdoor bath), rain drizzling down and an amazing view of fog covered mountain I had just hiked (Here is a photo from Japan guide of the bath that I was in). While in the bath several foreign guys got in, along with a Japanese guy with dreadlocks. We all sat in silence admiring the scenery and eventually after a long soak, departed.
In the train on the way back to Kyoto, I happened to sit by the same fellows I shared the bath with. One of them asked me to take a photo of them and I obliged in English. He was surprised at my American accent and before long introductions were made and I was to join them for dinner. Turns out they were two designers named Cyril and Willy visiting from New York, being shown the sites by Daijiro, a friend of their old classmate. Meeting Cyril, Willy and Dai would be the beginning of series of new friends in Kyoto.
Dai took us to Kyoto’s red light district called Gion, and we ate sushi and other various dishes at an Izakaya (a sort of pub). After food we went on a walk around Gion and then to a ramen shop whose specialty was chicken broth/meat, and it was quite delicious. Dai then brought us to what he called, “the real Kyoto” - a unmarked bar on the third floor of a inconspicuous back alley building right next to an abandoned elementary school. It was tiny, dark and dingy, but totally charming. After several beers we went our separate ways - however I knew from that point that the adventure was just beginning.
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