Sayonara, locks

Today was our last day in Kyoto, meaning that we were approaching the end of our trip. This prospect gave us mixed emotions. On the one hand, Japan is great. On the other hand, touring around and never having a home-base can be tiring. Then again, returning to Seoul meant Tim would actually have to return to work. And it was this very inevitable fact which dictated our day today. You see, Tim was in need of a haircut, and he knew he better do it before we arrived back in Seoul in 3 days.

Tim used his master Google skills to find a really cheap barber shop in some residential area of town. Naturally, there were already 3 people in a chair and 3 more waiting when Tim arrived. So I ditched Tim in search of breakfast and exploring. To sum up what I found: a cafe where I had an egg sandwich and a coffee, a temple (shocking I know), and a Christian church. I also came across a film crew interviewing someone in the street so I’m probably on Japanese TV.

I came back from exploring just in time to see them finishing Tim up. It was pretty interesting to watch the process. In Japanese barber shops, for example, the basins where they wash your hair are at each barber’s station and conveniently fold up out of the way when not in use. Clients are also treated to a head and neck massage, and a shave of your beard and, bizarrely, your forehead if you like. Tim declined to have his forehead shaved. In the end, he made it out with a pretty decent hair cut and paid less than half of what other hair and barber shops were charging!

Although he was relieved to have a good cut, within five minutes he was complaining about how he missed his “locks of strength.” To cheer him up, I took him to the cafe to get a sandwich and coffee. He still whined though.

Our next stop was to the textile museum where I’d read you can find decently priced kimonos as well as see a kimono fashion show and even order a custom made one. It turned out to be a tourist trap with yukatas and polyester “kimono style” robes. I was really disappointed as my chances of finding a kimono in Japan were diminishing everyday. I did get to learn a little bit about the kimono making process and its connection to France (click on the pictures to read about it).

Finally, our last tourist stop in Kyoto before boarding the train was a visit to the Nijo-jo Castle. I only have a picture of the gates as you were not allowed to take pictures inside, and the castle itself wasn’t much to look at. If you are really dying to see some pictures of the inside, you’ll have to content yourself with a Google image search.

Late that afternoon, we hopped on a train towards our next location. For our final nights in Japan, I booked us lodging at a Buddhist temple located on a mountain about an hour from Osaka. I never knew this was possible until I saw a Facebook friend had done this on her visit. Who knew Buddhist temples did such a thing?

When we arrived in the small village that was about 20 minutes from the temple, we hailed a cab to take us up the mountain. He didn’t laugh at us, but along the route he did his best to communicate that the ride would be very steep and curvy. Indeed, the trip gave us flashbacks of navigating steep mountain roads in the South of France, but this time neither of us were as anxious because someone else was doing the driving!

The driver dropped us off at the lodging portion of the temple complex. Within a few minutes a monk greeted us, showed us to their offices, and while we checked in they treated us to matcha green tea and little tiger cookies (the tiger is the temple’s animal). After the charming reception, they showed us to the lodging where we had to take off our shoes at the lobby and leave them in a cubby before making our way to our room on the third floor.

We were told the “fire ceremony” would be at 5 am and breakfast of grilled fish and rice would be at 8 am. I’m not so sure I’m digging the early wake up, but I can say without no hint of irony that Tim will (as well as the fish/rice breakfast).

In the meantime, we had dinner of grocery store sushi and Japanese beer and then headed downstairs to shower and use the onsen (the hot baths) before calling it a night.

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