The Boys are in Town!
If there is a disturbance in the harmony of this land, it was no doubt caused by the arrival of several of my college buddies. I made sure to finish up my reports and papers, because the next week will be lived with adventure: sighting by day, and a comprehensive survey of Japanese watering holes by night. I am really excited to have them here and to introduce them to my beloved Japan. While we may go to some famous sites, in general I hope to get them deep into the parts of Japan not seen if you stick to the usual route.
Gus, Micah, Brenden, and Josh all flew in from Hong Kong, where they had been visiting our other friend Dennis. We met up and made our way to the Rakuen, where I showed off my local bar. The guys were tired from their week in Hong Kong, so we took it easy and started the long process of exchanging stories from the past year.
On Saturday, after a hearty lunch at Tarou Ramen, we hopped the trains to Kyoto. The weather defied the weather forecast and cleared up, which led to some great views at Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion). The guys are not too pleased with Japanese currency, especially all the large and unfortunately valuable coins. Carrying around a coin purse, let alone a man-purse, is out of the question for these guys; they preferred trying to throw them into little stone-bowls for good luck. When this failed, we opted to convert some of the change into green tea ice cream.
After the not-so-subtle beauty of Kinkakuji, I decided to show the guys Ryoanji. This is the home of a very famous Zen dry landscape garden. However, the guys seemed more interested in the inviting green moss that covered much of the temple’s grounds. With a bit of humidity in the air and a slight breeze, it certainly was excellent weather for a nap – I went in for a closer look, and can report that the moss is as soft as it looks.
Taking in all that Kyoto-culture really worked up an appetite. We returned to Kobe after stopping in the JR Kyoto station long enough to check out its architecture, contemplate running all the way down its abundant downscalators, and activate the boys’ JR Rail Passes. I took the boys to a small neighborhood restaurant that is well known for its Kobe beef. It is a whole-in-the-wall with pictures of signatures of famous Japanese people on the walls.
The beef was divine. We had sirloin and tenderloin, as well as typical Japanese seafood and beef yakisoba, accompanied with some draft beers. I was very pleased that all the guys were impressed with the meal, and they have informed me that we will be going back there again while they are in Japan.
Well fed and reinvigorated, we took showers and got dressed for a night out on the town. A certain karaoke bar in Osaka will never forget us, that is for sure.