To Kyoto!

Sleep can be considered a very important aspect of life by most people. Not me. Personally I’d rather be doing stuff than spending the recommended time, 8 hours (a third of the entire day), doing something else. An overdue essay, a drawing, sending the Christmas gifts that you should have sent (before Christmas), these are just a few of the things I’ve been having to put off lately because my body demands rest. Ironically when I do submit and go to bed, it usually takes another hour or so to actually get to sleep. This being said however, I have finally managed to sort myself out a (somewhats) regular sleep pattern, aswell as finishing that damn essay.

Technically speaking I’ve moved again. I’m in the same room, only I’m not sleeping on the bed anymore. A few nights ago I wanted to keep up late working but I was getting too tired. I compromised with myself that I’d have a little kip, but would sleep on the floor where it would be colder and less comfortable, meaning I could get up easier when I did drop off. Twist of fate would have it that it’s actually a really comfortable floor, and I’ve been sleeping there ever since. Now all I need is a proper futon, and not just a blanket, and then I can tick off another box of daily achievements of Japanese lifestyle.

My new years resolution (aka the thing which I’ll actually just do for the first few days of the year and then agree to sod it) is to do or go somewhere new every day. So far I’ve managed to keep that resolution; the first two days I explored new spots of my local area and today me and some friends went to Kyoto. Overall, though it was marred by cold and damp weather, the environment and scenery were very easy on the eye.

I did however rekindle my old hatred of tourist areas due to the kind of people they attract the most. Tourists! I know initially this will sound very hypocritical, me being a tourist most of the time, but the vast majority of tourists really do my nut in. Their attitudes and lack of a moral and social conscience not only leave a negative impression for all people wanting to visit an area, but also ruins the days of pretty much everyone (unless the weather got there first). Personally I’d like to see some sort of tourist licence that meant that only people who understand that going to a new place doesn’t mean that everyone there is your servant, can go and visit places. I know this sounds just more like a rant, and I guess it kind of is, but as my time passes in Japan I certainly want to try to leave a positive impression of foreigners.

This isn’t to say that all the tourists I encountered got me irritated. I was incredibly impressed by one American woman (I think she had a Texas accent) who couldn’t find her way to a shrine and asked us if we knew where it was (as I said in a previous entry, this I don’t mind, but foreigners coming up to me wanting to just speak to me because I’m foreign I generally do). Not only did she ask us in a very polite manner (scoring major points in my book anyway), but she asked us in Japanese. It was very simple Japanese, clearly she’d learned a few key phrases, and this was a huge impression left with me. To be honest when I first saw her approaching with a map, I had a vague idea that she’d be asking directions, but well done that lass for going that extra mile. For the record we directed her in English.

I’d first discovered Fukubukuro when reading Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei a couple of weeks ago. A fukubukuro roughly equates to a lucky bag, and come New Year shops start making and selling these depending on what kind of store they are. Nozomu Itoshiki (aka Mr Despair) basically describes them as a way of getting rid of the stores junk and unwanted items, and walking around Kyoto today I saw them at almost every single store, large or small. Prices of these lucky bags also varied depending on what you might expect to get in it, with the most expensive one I saw at 80,000 yen (just under £570) at a jewellery shop.

I’m pretty much open to trying anything at least once, especially with food (unless mayonnaise is involved, then it can go get stuffed) and in the past have enjoyed weird combinations; cucumber dipped in apple sauce and KFC with maple syrup to name a couple. So today when I saw a new flavour of ice cream I felt I had to give it a go. Personally, the taste wasn’t so great, but in reality I don’t think many people could eat Pumpkin and Chestnut Ice-Cream. Giving it to my friends there was a mix of reactions, but at least I know now to stick to mint chocolate-chip.

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