Jan. 7th, 2012

So after we went to Ise, and I dragged a huge suitcase up the mountain because my brother and his girlfriend could fit theirs into lockers in the station, but mine was too big. It actually wasn't too big, it was just that the lockers large enough to accomodate mine were already taken, because there weren't very many of them. Anyway, Ise was really cool, but I was sick and carrying my luggage, so it could have been a lot more interesting if I had been a little less put-upon.

We got in to Kyoto that night (three days ago) and checked into our hostel, which is SO much better than the one in Nagoya. It has lots of space, comfortable futons, and our own private bathroom. It's a little annoying because my brother and his girlfriend are both here, and they keep rolling over and sleeping next to each other—which isn't a problem, except last night they almost rolled on top of my futon, which was a little annoying.

Two days ago we went to see Kiyomizu-dera, an enormous temple; it was awesome. I have tons of pictures. We also ate sesame ice cream, which was delicious. And had really good parfaits, which in Japan involve ice cream and cake and whipped cream. I have decided that matcha ice cream is good, but pure matcha ice cream is a little too strongly flavored on the bitter end for me ... Anyway, Kiyomizu-dera was amazing. It had lots of little shrines, and a jumping wall where people jump off and pray (and die, unfortunately), and a water fall with separate streams that were supposed to give you wisdom, love, or longevity depending on which one you drank from.

Yesterday we went to Nara, which was AWESOME. There were sacred deer everywhere, and they were very friendly, in general; you could just reach over and pet them. We also saw the largest wooden structure in the world, Toudaiji, which was basically an enormous temple with a massive Buddha in it (and a pole with a hole in it that was the size of the Buddha's nostril, which you could climb through if you fit!). It was really cool, and we also walked around a lot afterwards and saw many, many tiny shrines, including one devoted to breast cancer and ovarian cancer (which was a new thing for my brother's girlfriend).

We've walked at least 70 miles since we got to Japan, which is pretty awesome.

Also, we watched Sherlock last night and the night before ... A Scandal in Belgravia. It was ... extremely weird, and I felt like Irene Adler had no character and no independence, and was basically a Sexy Damsel in Distress rather than someone who could actually do things for herself. Oh well. I hope next week's episode is much better, because that was pretty pathetic. This is my least favorite episode by far.
Today we went to Fushimi Inari, and it was AMAZING. There were Inari torii everywhere, and they were all bright orange. It was allegedly the "path of the 1000 torii", but there were definitely way more than 1000 torii. We walked all the way up the mountain, but we didn't go around the mountain, so we didn't even see all of the torii.

Then, this afternoon, we hung out with two of my brother's girlfriend's fellow Fulbrighters. They were ... not my kind of people. They weren't geeky, and seemed to really like shopping. One of them seemed interested in improving his Japanese, but the other didn't seem to care, and also didn't seem to be interested in much of anything except shopping. Hopefully they are getting a lot out of their experiences; at the very least, I got a decent idea of what not to do when (hopefully when, not if!) I do a Fulbright as well.

One important lesson: don't get a dorm room, get an apartment. That would make life so much nicer, and I don't really want to force myself to meet people anyway.



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