Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snakes on a Lake!

I told you I was going to do nothing for many days. But did you listen? No, you just kept hitting refresh.

Day 4: Wandered, ate, drank, snacked, lolled, rolled, lolled and rolled. Our first attempt at having dinner that night was at a Japanese restaurant so untouristed that they in fact would not serve us. (They sat us, but they would not serve us.) When we noticed that Japanese people who had arrived long after us had been presented with their hot towels (which you always get within about two minutes of your arrival at any restaurant), we hightailed it out of there. We ended up at an Indian joint, where the food was served over Japanese rice dyed yellow with saffron. They weren't fooling anybody.

Day 5: I biked up to the Imperial Palace Park, which I remembered as a big load of nothing, therefore perfect for cycling. I had failed to remember that the nothing is covered in gravel, making cycling somewhat less than smooth.

JiJi stares angrily at the gravel.

We had dinner at Asian Libra, a fusion place that looks out on the Kamogawa, and followed that with dessert at the tea salon Lipton. At that point, my digital camera stopped working. The next day I figured out how to trick it into taking pictures, but as a result there are no photos of the outrageous dessert we ate at Lipton.

Day 6: I accompanied D to work in Kusatsu, on the other side of Lake Biwa. I borrowed a bike from her work and went biking along the lake. Finally. The lake tried to have the last word, throwing up a snake in my path, but I am not that easily deterred (although I respectfully let it cross before continuing on my way).

JiJi II contemplates Lake Biwa, as Polky the Chinese Bag greedily awaits lunch.

I went to 7-11 to pick up lunch with one of D's environmentally sound colleagues. That's how I found out how infinitely inferior 7-11's chicken nuggets are to Fresco's.

Clockwise from bottom left: Rice thingy, "Salad"-flavored Pretz ("Salad" tastes like a salty cracker, "Roast" tastes like a petit beurre, "Cheesecake" tastes like heaven), one of the many delightful variations of ice coffee available in a juice box or can, a boiled egg (why can't I buy boiled eggs at grocery stores in the US?), poor excuses for chicken nuggets. In the end, I had to ditch the rice thingy. Even I have my limits.

In the afternoon, D and I went the other way along the lake (we covered the dang thing from all angles), she on roller-blades, I on my trusty borrowed bike.

Days 7 through 10: Wake up before the crack of dawn. Eat enough breakfast for six. Loll about. Bike to train station for no apparent reason, then bike up and down the Kamogawa. Get lunch from Fresco.

Clockwise from top left: mighty chicken nuggets, inarizushi (my favorite), Boss ice coffee in a can (also favorite but not as much), assorted sushi (center ones are of questionable origin).

Eat lunch along the river while reading juicily scandalous True Story (thanks, Y!). Walk around downtown, browse shops, buy nothing. Think about doing something cultural. Think again. Go home, watch Scrubs Season 5. Watch half of Kill Bill Vol. II (aka Kill Bill 3/4), hate it. Wait for D to come home. Watch rest of Kill Bill Vol. II. Have dinner with D. Discuss poorness of Kill Bill Vol. II vs. Vol. I. Discuss brilliance of Scrubs Season 5. Sleep. Rinse. Repeat.

Clockwise from bottom left: much-loved sesame green beans, sushi and rolls (nothing like the rolls you get in the US), two types of rice with assorted stuff in them, including a most excellent bean (fava?).

Day 9: This day was partially spent organizing D's tatami room in anticipation of her iftar the next day. If only I had contrived to throw the words petit beurre into the previous sentence, we might really have had something. In any case, I made her throw lots of stuff away. Throwing things away is one of my all-time favorite pastimes, second only to drinking the blood of innocents, so I spent quite an enjoyable afternoon.

Day 10: D and I had goodbye doughnuts at Cafe du Monde in Kyoto Station, and then off I went, back to my semi-organized homeland.

Kyoto Station, seen from a doughnut.


As I stood in line for the security check at Chicago's Ohare airport, a man with a deep and menacing voice repeatedly announced over the loudspeaker: "The terror alert has been raised to ORANGE. Repeat. ORANGE. You are about to die. Vote Jeb in 2008! Yee-haw!" Or something like that. I felt the pain of a light, ghostly kick to the shins. I'm pretty sure it was Orwell. Bad Orwell! I'm going to sic the Dog Whisperer on him.

Random Facts & Figures:

What I bought in Japan:
Two boxes of cereal, a gummy pizza for my brother, a small chair for Y's lazy cell phone, a bag that A will hate, and a trench coat. Oh and magnificent cheesecake-flavored pretzels. The trench coat is from a clothing store called Clef de Sol. When I got my credit card receipt, I had some trouble finding the trench. Finally, I found it. Under Kuredosoru.

Impact of Japan on my life now:
1. Renewed interest in bike-riding. Acted upon: No.
2. Obsession with Asian pears. Acted upon: Yes. 1 Asian pear purchased for $1.65. They are nearly as expensive in Japan.
3. Renewed interest in breakfast. Acted upon: Yes, but only as long as both the jet-lag and the two boxes of cereal brought from Japan lasted.
4. Newfound interest in premade ice coffee. Acted upon: Yes, courtesy of my local Chinese grocery store, at which "Salad"- and "Roast"-, but sadly not "Cheesecake"-, flavored Pretz were also found.

Until next time, keep the home fires (and the chicken nuggets) burning.

1 comment:

baj said...

i'll keep an eye out for your cheesecake pretz. i like boss coffee, yum-o. why don't you be like sars and bike to dc some fine spring day? he biked from tennessee (where tenneseein' is tennebelievin').