Thursday, August 9, 2007

What a whirlwind!

I'm now in Korea and realize that it has been a while since I wrote anything here. I've been pretty busy with adventuring so when the time comes to be near a computer I'd much rather be sleeping! I spent a wonderful few days in Nagoya after my time at the hostel in Kyoto. My friend met me at the station and we went to Inuyama castle, the oldest castle in Japan. It is still preserved in its original form inside, so it's not like the ultra-modern Osaka castle that looks cool from the outside but is transformed into a museum that doesn't look castle like at all from the inside. After the castle we went out for dinner with friends and had a great time eating first very fancy Japanese food then we went for chicken wings after that. The next day we went to two old towns on the original road betwen Kyoto and Tokyo. The towns were on the border between Gifu and Nagano prefectures, and in the mountains. One town was up high, the other in a valley. They were so peaceful to walk through, and lined with shops showing traditional gifts and some people were even making them right there for us to see. It was so hot though, that seems to be the case every day. It gives us a good excuse to eat ice cream though. I bought myself a bag that was woven from dyed silk (fabric pieces in one direction, and threads in the other). It is blues and greens just like the mountains. I also bought a table cloth showing the indigo dying that is so common to Japan. I was able to see more friends that I haven't met in a long time, and got to see wedding pictures too-traditional shinto wedding pictures. I took pictures of the pictures. I took a day trip on Monday to Kyoto from Nagoya all by myself. I saw several new temples and lots of bamboo. I also walked up the mountain in Arashiyama to see the monkey park at the top-wild monkeys wandering all over the mountain top, pretty cool, but I was a little nervous of them.

After Nagoya I went to Osaka to meet more friends. We started off by going to Himeji, which was farther than we thought, but worth the trip. We saw the castle and the gardens. The castle is a huge one, and also looks old inside. The gardens were lovely and green, they claim that flowers were in bloom, but we only saw really tiny ones. It was nice to have a calm place to relax and imagine a breeze...I think it was 33 or something close to it.

The next day in Osaka we went to Ohara, a town outside of Kyoto (Osaka to Kyoto takes 1.5 hours from my friend's house, but the train ride is a good social time). We saw more temples, and walked through the old narrow paths of the town. I ran into a craft area (dangerous I know), and this discovery led us to find a "factory" where people were weaving and spinning and dying silk with vegetable dyes. We stayed there and pestered them with enough questions until they took us on a tour, and one woman demonstrated how to dye something with indigo. It was a really interesting process, I will have to try it!

We came back from Kyoto and had dinner with my friends and her family. Her brother in law is a monk. I have never met a monk before! I will go back to Japan in the future and he said he can show me around his temple when he works there.

I left early this morning from Osaka, took a train to Hakata, a boat to Pusan, and a train to Seoul, and a subway to my friend's house, and now I'm eating watermelon, and going to go to sleep because it is almost 1 am. We're making a good plan for tomorrow. I'll post more pictures sometime this week.

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