D3 – Kyoto Exchange – Family Day @ Byodoin

After a bus drive to Byodoin, we got off and lined up behind our guide and her red flag. This was a deeply historic site and had an amazing museum on the grounds with all the artifacts from the temple. 

The students wanted a Twitter picture in front of the temple.

The artifacts here are preserved in a museum that has temperature and humidity controlled environments. No cameras or photos were allowed inside the museum. I ended up buying a book with a catalog of all the artifacts contained in the museum. This site was established in 1052. Some of the student commented on the age of these artifacts and the long history of Japan when compared to the history of the United States.

Here are a few of the wood carved figures of Buddhist angels—Bodhisatva. These were all suspended in an all glass case in the museum.

At either end of the roof of the Byodoin temple are a bronze phoenix.

Here is the image of Byodoin on the 10 yen coin.


Rodney Owen, the retired ROP Director for Modesto City Schools, did this exchange for a few years with Chris Flesuras.  He gave me some advice about coins and Japan that I did not understand until I was there.  He said not to go near any deep water in Japan because of the coins.  Turns out he meant you could drown from the weight in your pockets if you fell in.  I accumulated coins like crazy in Japan.  The largest coin is 500 yen (or close to $5 US dollars).  It was easy to learn the coins because they are all different metals, some with holes, and with different edges.  But at any given time I sometimes had upwards of $30 in coins in my pockets. 

On this day when I got back to Kyoto Station I got a phone call from Mickey.  He had been detained and could not pick me up at the station to take me to the hotel.  He said he would be there later to pick me up to take me to the teachers back to school dinner.  Our teacher escort for the day pointed me to the bus terminals.  He said not to worry about the ticket, that I could buy one on the bus.  I hopped on the bus and looked for the ticket machine.  It cost 200 yen for the bus ride (about $2.00 US).  I searched my pockets and found a mix of coins totaling less than 100 yen.  I then remembered I had used most of my coins at the vending machines at Byodoin to get a cold drink.  My smallest bill was 2,000 yen.  The machine would only take up to 1,000 yen bills.  I found out that in Japan the 2,000 yen bill is like the $2 bill in the US, nobody takes them.  I got mine when I did an exchange of a large amount of money through my bank.  How nice that they had included ten of these odd bills.  I was stuck on this bus with nothing small enough to buy my ticket.  When I came to my stop I tried to express to the driver that I only had a 2,000 yen bill and that he could just take it.  Another important thing to remember in Japan is that it’s an insult to tip someone.  I guess an $18 US tip was very insulting.  After searching his bag for change, and finding none, the driver shouted at me to “Get off my bus”, he opened the door and pointed for me to leave.  I guess he was actually being very nice, as when I told the story later that night people were shocked that I had been allowed to ride the bus for free. 


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