We just arrived in Kyoto after finding out last night that our supposedly sleepy Japanese village was actually a facade for an undercover prostitute haven... for some reason Brett and I after eating an enormous dinner decide to take a walk. Mostly there wasn:t anything to see at all... just a few open shops but on most streets we were the only ones which might have been romantic had Brett not just recounted a few stories of serial killers on our way out the door.
After walking awhile we stumbled upon one place where you could shoot bows and arrows (I tried to go in there and have a try but Brett said I:d hurt myself...) and another Pachinko parlor (the Japanese version of Indian Reservation Casinos where you play this weird slot game with a bunch of silver balls and lit up cartoon characters... its a rip)
So finally we come up to the one lit street thinking hey wifey, hey hubby- we finally found the **nightlife street** in this folk village. So we walk into a bar, maybe we should have taken the windowless bars as a harbinger of what was yet to come but we didn:t so we bust open the door to find... hookers. Da da na na....
They basically told us in sign language to get out. At the first bar we were met with crossed fingers, I wasn:t sure if we were being shunned or if they were performing voo doo but we just turned around and walked out.
At the second place the two chicks inside looked shocked and then started giggling.
At the third venue the girls starred at us for a moment then went to get a sign in English, our native tounge, saying that we could get a drink if we wanted but only if we first paid a forty dolla cover fee. This is Japan:s way of saying we don:t want any of your kind in here but instead of just ripping us off after we have a drink or having a bouncer kick us out like they might do in Romania, the Japanese are at least polite enough to tell us in a way that doesn:t hurt our creative American minds.
After checking out four venues, you may be wondering why didn:t you just head home. Well we were almost just intrigued to figure out what the hay was going on there. It was the only street in Takayama where we had seen girls with Tokyo Shibuya style up-dos, beanies (which are apparently IN right now, even in the summer, they can even be worn with a mini skirt) and we were eager to figure out where they got the inspiration for their lovely locks.
Fast forward a good nights sleep and a delicious Japanese breakfast. The train ride to Kyoto was breathtaking...
And here we are. Today we enjoyed two of the most famous temples in Kyoto, both of them were beautiful.
We:ve already run into a few geisha. A few of them were imposters but they sure fooled me. I pulled out my camera and started snapping away, until my intelligent counterpart informed me that I was taking a picture of girls in a studio where you pay $100 a person to get your hair and makeup done like a geisha. So what, to me it still looked like a cultural hotspot. At least the girls were Japanese right??
Tonight, after settling into our amazing ryokan in Kyoto where the innkeepers are just too good to be true and the bath is just incredible, we went to the street near Gion where the real geisha hang out and entertain. We finally found a real one bidding farewell to one of her customers (by the way geisha cost around $3000 a night and they aren:t prostitutes for the most part they just entertain with soft voices, traditional dance and instrumental interludes). I was so excited I tried to spend a few more minutes what Brett called *GEISHA HUNTING*
Well at least I was successful in my hunt.
We are enjoying our new ryokan but we (ok, I) still don:t have the shoe thing down flat. This ryokan is fancier than the one in Takayama and I can tell by the pairs of shoes I have to wear just to walk around... and the place is really pretty small. Imagine a bed and breakfast in Napa in an old Victorian house with 8 rooms... that:s where we are only everyone is way more gracious and you have to wear about five pairs of slippers just to walk 30 feet.
So I walk in, take off my shoes, then borrow a pair of slippers to walk around the hallway downstairs that leads to the rock garden and coi pond. Then if I go into the bathroom I:m suppose to use the toilet shoes only this is a classier establishment so the slippers don:t say toilet, they are just plain jane classy toilet slippers. To be honest I just sneak my other slippers into the toilet area unless someone is watching me. Then there are different slippers we are suppose to use upstairs to walk up the stairs and to our room but don:t be fooled because you should never wear any slippers in your room. To top things off the garden area has its own pair.
So I accidentally used my upstairs slippers on the cement hallway downstairs- that is until I was stopped by a few of the innkeepers who you could tell were rather alarmed. Everytime I wear the wrong slippers at the wrong place or time I feel like I:m smuggling in drugs from Tijuana. It:s that bad. It does leave me wondering whether anyone in Japan has athlete:s foot or any other fungi. Probably not. This is really the first place on earth I]d want to be if the movie OUTBREAK came to life. I would feel safe and sanitary here. Or even if you just had hammer toes it seemed like this would be the worst country to be in....
Good night folks, tomorrow we are off to Nara for the day and probably Kobe for dinner to try some local massaged cow beef firsthand.