Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kyoto: my favorite things

Kyoto was the city I liked best. It's modern and very traditional at the same time. Ancient and new. You have the high end stores, of course, and the Starbucks everywhere but at the same time you can still see Maiko (apprentice geisha) walking into a restaurant in Gion and houses more than a hundred years old. The city feels more livable, more friendly and more stylish than any other place I've been in Japan. And it's the hometown of Astroboy!

Streets of Gion

The golden palace

Kyoto Manga Museum

The "wall of manga"

The vaults: first editions

Maiko drawn in manga style

A real maiko

Funaoka Onsen
An Onsen is a hot spring. Funaoka is the eldest one in Kyoto. It was established in 1923. We went after a long ride with our bikes, in a very cold winter night. When we arrived we were on the verge of freezing ourselves. Two hours later, we left like floating in a bubble of steam. We ride one more hour to our place and never felt the cold again. Admitance fee is 5 dollars and you can stay as long as you want. Men and women are separated because no clothing is allowed in the baths (not even towels). I was the only foreigner sharing the pools with twenty naked japanese men. Everyone pretended to be cool about it but I have to say that at least those japanese men could not avoid to look at a westerner's penis. I guess it was just curiosity. I never felt unconfortable, though. The place is beautiful (very nice vintage white tiles on the walls) and the electrified water bath is something to try out!

Best bike store: Moulton specialist Moku 2plus4

Japan must be the place with most record stores per capita in the world. In Shinjuku (central Tokyo) only, the Union Disk chain has like ten stores, each one of them specialized in one genre (both in vinyl and CD) and all of them very well edited. But in Kyoto you can find stores that never went into CDs and that even have some stuff still sealed from the 70's and 80's. Like this one...

Not a bad find at all

More Kyoto

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