Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kyoto Day 5: Tou-ji Temple

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Every month on the 21st, there's a flea market at Touji Temple. If you've seen pictures of a pagoda against the sky, you've probably seen the toji pagoda. It's a famous Kyoto sight—you can even see it from the shinkansen.

On the way to Touji, we stopped at Big Camera. Again, no mix-style headphones, but I did pick up some Ear Drops. They're almost as good as big DJ-style 'phones, because the Ear Drops slip inside your ear better than the standard iPod 'phones, so they act a little like ear plugs.

The flea market features various things, and we had fun looking around. (Despite the smothering humidity.) After chatting with a fellow from Montreal who had a table selling necklaces, we attempted to buy shoes from an elderly Japanese man who claimed he didn't know how much they cost. I think this may have been his way of getting out of selling us a pair of sandals, as it's not often a person doesn't know how much what they're selling costs.

After Tou-ji, we thought we'd try to go to the Yasaka Shrine, which is the Gion Shrine. It's at the end of Shijou Street. However, it started to rain. We kept going—got about halfway there, and it started to pour. Throwing down with lightning and thunder.

Clustered under an awning with the other shoppers trapped by the storm, we retreated into a traditional fabric crafts shop. It finally stopped raining, but the sky made it appear that another shower could come at any time. Alice suggested going to a cafe off Shijou that was close to where we were to get a cup of tea.

Tits cafe specializes in tea. (I'm not making this up. It really is called Tits.) It's a sleek little cafe with great atmosphere off the busy shopping street. I'd tell you where exactly it is, but I'm not certain I could find it again. We ordered lunch and waited for Alice's boyfriend and his Japanese friend, Emiko, to meet us.

All of us wandered through Teramachi shopping area, as Corey went on a quest for new converse and I continued to look for mix-style headphones. We found them in The Loft and determined that they were cool, yes, but they weren't very good headphones. The Heart Drops probably aren't, either, but I haven't decided whether or not to buy the hot pink DJ-style ones that Corey pointed out as being better quality. If I do, I know where to find them.

After shopping, we went to a restaurant called Paris 21e, although we'd passed it before and I'd thought it was called With You. Emiko ordered a bottle of wine, and we all got to talking.

This is the thing—it is really just illusions like language and culture that separate us. People have the same concerns and feel the same frustrations and laugh about the same things in every "modern" city. Relationships are our common language. Japan has always been able to show that to me, to present solid evidence of how class and race and geography doesn't change what fundamentally makes us people.

A wedding celebration was happening at the restaurant while we were there, and we watched the bride in her pink princess dress descend the stairs to the shopping street on the arm of her Prince Charming. Weddings used to upset me, until I realized that every one I attend or witness is proof that people find their match.

As we paid our bill, they informed us that they were doing a draw to offer more points, 5% or 10% off the meal. I was told to shake the container and a red-tipped stick fell out. This got us 10% off our meal price. Lucky! We paid and went out. The bride had left a trail of rose petals down the stairs.

A butterfly slurps nectar from flowers at the Touji Flea Market.

A boy and his mother try to catch goldfish at the flea market.

Traditional street food for sale—think a fish-shaped cake filled with red bean paste.

The crowded aisles and stalls of the flea market before the pagoda.

Beef hash omuraisu (omelet rice) from Tits Cafe.


C. Leigh Purtill said...

More great pics!!! Hey, how much Japanese do you speak? Do you think you have to speak it well in order to travel to Japan?

Chandra Rooney said...

I speak/understand enough to get by, but what I find more important is the ability to read it. That helps with maps, trains, menus, prices, etc.

That Girl said...

Loving your pics. Also -- Tits Cafe? Really? :D

Rachel said...

I like the eardrops best. Never been a fan of the DJ style things. They just look bulky and icky to me.

How cool is it that you saw that wedding? that's cool. And rose petals.

KT said...

Those headphones are ace.

By the way, I was looking through the latest issue of Previews and saw a familiar name in there. ;)