I snapped a picture of a really unique looking parking structure across from where I was staying. It reminded me of the toys I played with as a kid. It was a car parking machine. Cars drove in, parked on the platform, and then were slid into slots up in the structure. It was pretty cool and used very little space to store the cars.
My son Corey and I took a trip to the grocery store around the corner from my hotel. He came by after school to check out where his dad was staying. This grocery store was quite a foreign place to us and was not what we were used to when grocery shopping. We encountered many of the things I had been eating at dinners that week in their native store packaging. Did you know that the Japanese word for octopus is “tako” (pronounced just like taco). Remember that when ordering food in Japan, or if you have a Japanese exchange student staying with you and you take him to Taco Bell.
These are tiny little raw squid that are usually served in salads or swimming in a green sauce on a plate for an appetizer.
Here I am at the Back to School Teacher’s Dinner with some of these little guys swimming on my plate in a sea of green.
Here’s another plate at the teacher’s dinner with large shrimp, raw salmon, and raw cod I believe.
Back at the grocery store, here’s some grilled squid in a package all ready for taking home and eating (yum!).
My youngest son would have gone nuts in the grocery store. He’s a HUGE Pokemon fan. While the Pokemon craze has really died down in the States, it’s still very much alive and kicking in Japan. There were a bunch of food products with the Pokemon label at the grocery store.
When I got back to my room I snapped a picture of this sign on the other bed in my hotel room. It basically stated that unless you had paid for two beds that this bed could not be unmade, you could not set anything on the bed, have an unauthorized guest, or disturb it in any way without getting charged for using it. You even had to leave the card in a specific location on the bed. The room had no maid service like a regular hotel in the States. You were on your own in cleaning up, taking out the trash, and otherwise maintaining the room.
I did not have anything to do this night. Every other night we either had meetings at the school into the evening or were out at dinner with people from the school. Mickey had a meeting with another school this night, so he could not go out to dinner. I decided that I was going to go on an adventure. The next day we were taking the students to Kyoto Station. I decided to grab my phrase book, my Blackberry and my coat and head out to try to find Kyoto Station on my own (silly American tourist).
I always try to use my technology to back myself up in case I get in a bind. Whenever I’m in a foreign place that I am not familiar with I snap a picture. This always helps in case you get lost and need to ask someone how to get back to where you started. Now that I have a GPS phone, I also mark a waypoint where I start out on any adventure. Here’s my picture from the bus stop where I got on outside my hotel.
The most recognizable landmark by Kyoto Station is the Kyoto Tower on the top of Kyoto Tower hotel. I had seen it almost every day that I had been in Kyoto, but this was the first time I had seen it at night. It was quite the sight to see.
I went into Kyoto Station after wandering all around outside (taking a ton of pictures) and got the lay of the land. It was absolutely HUGE, as big as any large airport terminal with several shopping centers attached. It’s very easy to get lost. I was quite surprised when I went up to an information booth and found that the staff spoke perfect English.
I spent some time walking around the train and subway departure stations, and even took a peek at the bullet train as it pulled into the terminal. After snagging a few maps and trying out Mr. Doughnut (people had been raving about it all week) I headed back out to the bus area to catch my bus back to my hotel.
It appeared that many of the buses were stopping their runs for the evening; it was getting close to 11:00pm. I hopped on what I thought was the bus I came in on. It was the same number but a different colored number. Since everything is in Japanese, the stops all sounded similar and the streets were looking kind of familiar. Then all of a sudden the announcement said “Next stop, Kyoto School of Pharmacy”. That was not familiar at all. I pulled out my phone and started up Google maps. I was definitely going in the wrong direction, heading almost in the opposite direction of my hotel. I pushed the button, got off the bus and waved down a taxi. I flashed the picture of my bus stop and we were off. 2,000 yen later (about $20) I was back at my hotel ready to turn in for the night. It was definitely an adventure.
I was now prepared for morning and our trip to the Kyoto Station with our students.