by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel Participant in the High School Abroad Program
Last week there was a holiday from the 19th through the 23rd. This holiday happens every year in Japan and it is a common time to go on trips. My host family and I went on a trip to Kyoto. However, the trip probably wasn’t as fun for my host sister as it was for me because she had exams directly after the trip. I don’t have to take them because my Japanese isn’t good enough. But I have to take the ones in November. Scary thought.
We left at around 8 a.m. on Sunday. Since it was only a two day trip, I brought my clothes in the large backpack I normally used for school in America. I was rather proud of myself for packing so little, until I saw the little backpack my host mother was bringing. My host sister didn’t even bring noticeable luggage, just a bag full of study materials and a medium size purse. We drove to a lot, where we parked our car and paid in advance for the space. One of the parking lot employees ferried us to the airport.
At the airport, we did a little shopping. It seemed to be mostly food. I wasn’t sure but I think most of the food
photo courtesy of “My Two Yen Worth” blogpot
was ‘Sendai cuisine’: edible souvenirs. There was a lot of green bean themed food. I saw a package of green bean flavored Kit-Kat bars. (Isn’t the point of candy to not be a vegetable?) The security check and airplane waiting area was mostly the same except for the fact that you had to scan a bar code on the ticket as you went through (I thought this was cool) and my host sister wasn’t made to throw away her green bean smoothie. We also didn’t have to take off our shoes.
The airplane ride was uneventful. My host family slept the entire time. Afterward, we got our luggage, and rode the monorail to the train, rode the train to the subway and walked from the subway to the restaurant where we would eat lunch. It was a long walk. The first restaurant we tried was full, (Japanese restaurants usually don’t take reservations) so we had to find another. At the restaurant I had my first experience with Kyoto prices. The lunch cost 1800 yen, which I thought was a lot. My host family assured me that it was normal for Kyoto, and I believed them, but it still felt like a lot of money to me. Little did I know. The dinner that night was close to twice that much.
After lunch, we went to the hotel and relaxed for about thirty minutes, then took the hotel bus back into Kyoto and walked around for a little while. I saw many modern buildings, and took a lot of pictures, then we went into an old
part of town (Kyoto has been an important city since before America even existed.) which I think was Gion
. We then had dinner. It was at a restaurant on the second floor of a building. I have no idea how big it actually was, because it was divided into lots of little rooms with two or three tables each. I told my host family that we didn’t usually have this in America and they seemed surprised. It was very nice. The room was quiet and before the waitress came in with each course she knocked on the door. Meals come in courses in Japan. There’s no main dish, just a bunch of little dishes, all about the same size. At home we set them on the table all at once, (which makes setting the table difficult for me) but in restaurants they bring them out one by one.
After dinner we shopped in what was basically a street with a roof. (Cars were not allowed in, though. It was a very narrow street) That was fun. I love shopping, and I managed to buy a pair of socks and pretty chopsticks without spending a fortune. I think Kyoto prices are higher than Sendai prices, but I’m not sure. I haven’t done a lot of shopping in Sendai.
By the time we were done shopping my feet hurt, and I was glad to head back to the hotel. At the hotel, we showered, and watched a history drama. History dramas are basically a TV show set in the past. My host aunt likes them. The ones we watch are set in medieval Japan and Korea, but I think there are dramas set in the twentieth century as well. I don’t understand the words, but I like to look at the costumes. The shows we watch have a lot of kings, princes, etc. in them, so the clothes are fairly ornate. I went to bed first, at eleven, but when I woke up at two in the morning my host mother and sister were still awake. Wow. In America my parents don’t usually even stay up for New Years.