Sunday, October 01, 2006

Missing: Lake. Surface Area: 670 km sq. Age: 4 million. Answers to the Name of Biwa

Day 2: Saturday morning we had a number of false starts. First, we left the house for Osaka because it looked like rain and therefore not a good day for biking along Lake Biwa. As we walked, the weather turned nice, so we returned home to change into lake-biking clothing. Back home, my eye started to itch, and when I went to look in the mirror I discovered to my horror that my right eyeball had grown a second, yellow eyeball. It was both disgusting and disturbing -- so much so that I did not even think to take a picture. D was very good about not looking alarmed, although she confessed later that she had never seen anything like it and that it was gross. We called D's mom (a doctor), who told us not to worry. So we believed her, and went off to Lake Biwa. For the first hour or so, every time I looked left or right, I could feel my extra eyeball sliding along the socket. Disconcerting. But eventually it went away and by the evening I had just the usual two eyeballs again.

Lake Biwa is enormous, and we had decided to go to the side of it (western?) that D had never been to. The plan was to rent bikes and ride along the lake. Oh, yes, that was the plan.

Sudoku 4 ever!

So absorbed were we in our respective sudoku puzzles that we missed our stop. You would think being one stop over from the main Lake Biwa stop would not be a big deal. You would be wrong. There was no one there. No one. We had about four false starts, wherein we walked toward one wheat field (no lake in sight), stopped, turned around, went back to the train station to look at the map posted there, went in the direction of another wheat field (still no lake), looked around, went back to the station again... According to the guidebook, if the mountains were behind us, the lake would be in front of us. Unfortunately, we seemed to be surrounded by mountains. We set off along the wheat fields again, walking towards where we thought the lake had to be. When we reached the road beyond which we believed the lake to be, we encountered a huge tiny problem. A ditch. (This was after we'd wandered through tall grasses all the while a little bit concerned that at any moment an army of farmers would come out and yell at us.) What's that you say, Lonely Planet? Off the beaten path? Kiss my teddy bear butt, LP. I'm fairly sure no one, foreign or local, has ever taken the path we took to get to Lake Biwa.

See any lakes?

What about now?

We threw ourselves over the ditch, only to encounter another ditch. But there was no turning back. Over the next ditch we went, onto someone's property. Across that as quickly as possible, and finally -- the road! And then we saw a boat!! It was parked, but we took comfort in the knowledge that most people don't park boats where there are no lakes.


I had never seen a lake with waves and surf before.

Dead fish washed ashore.

By the time we found the lake it was around 1pm, and we were starting to get hungry, but although we'd successfully located the lake, there wasn't much else there.
Nothing but wheat fields, a lake and a lone drink machine.

At one point, there was a sign with a Japanese character written on it and underneath it "0.2km." About 0.2km later there was another sign, pointing back the way we had come with the same character and "0.2km." I began to suspect that the sign meant "Sign, 0.2km." Very funny, Japan, very funny.

This was there.

And a pretty purple bulldozer.

And, of course, a pachinko parlor.
Finally, we found something to eat at Coffee View, whose proprietors were lovely, friendly people. I had a carbonara pizza.

The civilized end of Lake Biwa.

In the end, we didn't ride any bikes, but we did have a nice time walking along the lake. And we're not finished with Lake Biwa, or the bikes. Oh, no, we most certainly are not.

Upon returning to Kyoto Station, we stopped by the incredible food court beneath the station and picked up dinner.

On the left are delicious green beans sprinkled with sesame. The boxes contain eel (fish of the gods) over rice. In the back there is some tofu thing that D pronounced inedible. I didn't feel the need to find out for myself.

Coming up: Hotel Puppy and giant cats.

1 comment:

baj said...

those wheat fields are pretty enough to visit on their own without the silly hidden lake.

re: yr extra eyeball - looks like you are just living up to your namesake who also suffered from mutation at the hands of the japanese.

re: tofu - did i ever tell you about a convo my mom had with a waitress in china who was explaining the menu and said 'we also offer bean curds' to which my mom replied, 'oh, we call that tofu.'