The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, November 27, 2005

November Pt 1

Wow! It's been three weeks or more since I updated. I've been really busy lately and just haven't had time to update. The other problem is that, in our teachers' room, we are supposed to have 3 computers (for 6 teachers); two of the three have been on the fritz for the entire month, leaving that one working computer in high demand for "legitimate" uses like record-keeping and so on. So I haven't really been able to blog for a while. Sorry. I'm going to do this update in parts so as to keep them down to a reasonable length.

I had a 4-day weekend (thanks to the school's culture festival) and so I decided to go to Kyoto. Fall is the best time to view the foliage in Kyoto, which means that it's quite crowded with tourists from all over the country. But I decided to go anyway. The first day, I took the bullet train from Tokyo. It's always fun to ride because, well, it's just so durn fast! It also afforded me a very nice view of Mt. Fuji on the way past.

I arrived in Kyoto and had most of the day to wander around by myself. I visited the national museum and went on a wild-goose-chase trying to find a small private museum full of Japanese armour, but despite spending almost 2 hours walking around, I couldn't find it. Oh well. It was a nice day, anyway, and I saw quite a lot of interesting neighbourhoods and a nice temple called Kenniji.

After that, I took a local train to my friend Mori's place. He lives about 30 minutes away in a small town in Shiga prefecture and was nice enough to let me stay at his place with his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

The next day we got up early and went for a beautiful drive through the mountains. This was breathtaking, but my pictures can't convey the depth and breadth of the mountain views. We stopped a little waterfall on the way through; I was quite amazed that it was unspoiled and hadn't been turned into a tourist spot.

We eventually got to our destination: the Ninja museum in Iga-Ueno! This place is fantastic! They have a ninja house (full of tricks, traps, and secret passages), a collection of antique ninja artifacts, and a demonstration of ninja techniques. It was pure entertainment from start to finish, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance to go. I thought it would be cheesy, but actually it was really fun.

After the ninja museum, we checked out the small local castle, and then stopped at a number of pottery shops on the way home. Shiga is famous for a type of rustic-looking Japanese pottery; it's really crusty and natural looking. Some of the cups make you feel like you're drinking out of a hollow rock! I really like that kind of stuff so I bought a teabowl which I may or may not give to my Dutch friend who does the tea ceremony, depending on how charitable I feel...

Finally, exhausted, it was back to Mori's place for some play time with his young daughter, Natsuki. She is generally scared of men at this age, (even her grandpa) but she warmed up to me after a little while and actually let me take a picture of her smiling. It was pretty cute.


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