On the morning of January 11, one of our Glee Club singers woke up feeling sick from something he ate. According to our tour doctor, it was the same type of bug that had attacked him and our current president during last year’s tour to the Southwest. We were driving from Osaka to Kyoto in a little under an hour, so I was a bit concerned. Still, we loaded the luggage truck and the buses, and got on the road by 9:30 AM. We gave our sick singer the front seat and a bag to hold.
On the bus ride, I wrote a little bit about the previous day and tried to get some sleep. We arrived in Kyoto about an hour later, earlier than I had expected. It was hard to gauge how far we had gone, because the highway was bordered by two large noise-containing walls. Suddenly, we were in Kyoto, a town much different architecturally from Osaka. While Osaka has many more tall apartment and office buildings, our new hotel was on a block with smaller buildings surrounding it and a park across the street. The entrance to the park was marked by a giant red Japanese gate.
After dropping my stuff off in my room and having a good WhatsApp conversation with my girlfriend, I decided to wander outside and find something to eat. Fortunately, I was waylaid by the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. I paid the 600 yen entrance fee (student rate), and was off to see paintings and sculptures of a variety of different styles.
Normally, I’ll take a few photographs of different art pieces I like, but photography was forbidden throughout the museum, and the titles of the pieces were in Japnese and Chinese for the most part. Therefore, I had to resort to brief notes on my iphone:
- Salmon leaping in front of a yellow moon (how many? at least three, maybe five)
- Gustav Klimt woman in yellow, tan, orange, and pink pastels
- A sculptor carving a dragon onto a table with tea in the background
- Cherry blossom tree over a rock as red as raw meat
- Dilapidated greenhouse with weeds(?) beautiful plants bursting through the panes
- Dusky, dry bouquet of roses strewn on a path
- Willowy woman with greying hair in the middle of a wild garden (also butterflies!)
- Zen garden with cherry blossom tree so powdery I can feel the pollen in my sinuses
- Layers on layers of paint in an image of an airport, palimpsest of places
- Boys playing with candy colored marbles, like gumballs
- Dandelions with the beauty of orchids, white and yellow and green
- Mechanical flying fish, in the air with gossamer birds and coral, anchored, or sprung, from a copper curve
- Sculpted vase with birds painted on them, feathers straight and hard as swords
- Bard’s Tale – woman in A renaissance setting, but with a stratocaster carved from wood (this one actually had a title in English)
- Birds (dinosaurs) with ridged foreheads, in jungle below parrot
- Small girl, white face, straight cut bangs. Malevolent reds in background and in her eyes. Crane fleeing
- Man juggling soccer ball on chest, it’s the weight of the world.
To capture my trip in visual form, I ended up picking up a few postcards as well. After I left the art museum, I still hadn’t had anything to eat, so I went to a bookstore Starbucks with two other guys and got myself an egg sandwich and a scone. We enjoyed the food and the complimentary taste of coffee while we sat outside on the patio.
When I returned to the hotel, I did some work on my creative thesis application while listening to Spotify. Interestingly, Spotify played ads in Japanese, I assume because I was using a Japanese internet connection.
For dinner, I went out to a restaurant that did soba noodles and ordered a bowl of hot tempura soba with shrimp. However, when it came, there was a lot of fried batter and one lone shrimp. In retrospect, I suppose the menu did say “fried food with shrimp” as the description. I just assumed that the lack of a singular article meant that there would be more than one shrimp. On my way back, I stopped by Family Mart and picked up a cup of noodle container for breakfast the next morning. At the hotel, I read up on the latest American political news and watched a movie, then fell asleep watching Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearings.