Tuesday, April 13, 2010
April 12: Naoshima to Osaka to Kyoto
April 12: Naoshima to Osaka to Kyoto
An island song
Like a floating river
Rain Rain Fall Fall
We settle our bill at Benesse, they have included some items that we believed were pre-paid and after some consultation they agree to take them off the bill. Not sure how that decision was made, I left to get our bags during the review and then came back to find they had somehow acknowledged my point. I told them I would pay and then ask for refund later, not sure they understood that was what I was saying or not. In any case, it worked out (or so it seems!).
We head to the ferry, where I notice that they have separate lines for buying tickets depending on which ferry you want to take. That means that one ticket seller sits there staring in space while the other one sells tickets to the next ferry leaving. Hmmmmmmm….
It is raining, raining hard at times, raining constantly at all times. Our plan was to stop in Osaka for lunch and take a walking tour of the city, and at 6pm meet up with a local jewelry artist. That plan was just a plan, we get off in Osaka, see that it is pouring, eat ramen and gyoza and iced tea (a first) in the train station, $18, and then we get back on a train for Kyoto. DB uses the GO Mobile rental phone to advise the artist we won’t be meeting her; so far that means we are paying $100/call.
We know: it’s been raining a ton in the Bay Area. We feel for you, we really, really do. However, the Bay Area NEEDS rain, and apparently our concerns and wishes have come true for you. We, however, are on vacation, and we could care less about your weather, we really really want it to stop raining here in Kyoto so we can get out and enjoy this beautiful (or so we’re told) city.
Arrive in Kyoto and check-in to the Hyatt Regency, where you have already figured out we have high-speed internet access, with free wi-fi in the lobby or $16 for 24 hours in the room. This is coming to you from the lobby.
The room has several novel features: plugs in the safe, so you can charge up your valuables while they are stored away; and an electric toilet flush control in the bathroom (who else gives you these types of details, PLUS a picture!).
We spend the afternoon in the room plotting out the two free days in Kyoto (two days are set up for all-day guided trips). Then DB talks to the concierge about a local contemporary ceramicist, Mishima-san (female), who our docent E-ville friend pointed out to us, and now we have one less free day, we’re heading back to Osaka (with someone from her gallery in Kyoto) for an afternoon. Hopefully we will combine it with a meet-up with the jewelry artist.
We have sushi for dinner, at a place double recommended. Small, only five or six tables and five or six waitresses, all in a uniform that includes a large apron over a blue top. Two (male) sushi makers in the front, no counter. We order two different set trays, with around 20 pieces total. First impression: huge slices of fish on large sushi rice (so one piece seems to equal the US equivalent of two). Second impression: except for the really fatty tuna, it is all pretty mediocre, below the standard of our two favorite Bay Area spots (and they aren’t particularly well-known or sought out, there’s always a seat at the sushi counter during the week). Total $65, with two small draft beers, miso soup, and a complimentary starter of overdone fish cheeks.
The woman in charge of the restaurant is a revelation: she’s wearing black slacks and a patterned turtleneck, she could be someone we’d see on one of our art tours, very chic business casual. That is NOT the norm for Japanese women, nor even the norm for working Japanese women.
We walk a bit and it is obvious we are in the big city now from the number of young people we see and the much more diverse wear and haircuts. More SF or New York than Denver or Dallas or Stockton.
Two cabs back and forth from sushi, as it is a walk and metro to dinner. It is raining, no way to make it without getting soaked. One of the cabbies is a young woman (surprise!) and when she picks us up from the hotel the young female concierge gives her lengthy instructions. Our translation: drop them right in front and point them to the doorway and don’t let them out until you are sure they understand. On the way back, we hop in cab and show the older guy (no surprise) a piece of Hyatt Regency stationery, and he looks blankly. We say: Hyatt Regency, and he repeats in an AHA tone. Not for first time, we suspect we are in a cab where the cabbie doesn’t read. Turns out the Hyatt Regency stationery doesn't bother putting the name of hotel in Japanese! Total for two rides $17.