It’s starting to warm up now, but when we first arrived in Japan, it was pretty chilly! Luckily, our house-for-a-month is full of interesting devices to keep us warm.
Saturday was warm and sunny, so we started the day with lunch by the river and then rented some bicycles for further explorations. Kyoto is an amazing city for bicycling:
- There are several dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes, including the long, gorgeous ones that run by the river.
- Elsewhere, it’s easy to navigate the city on the many small lanes with little vehicle traffic. These lanes tend to be a visually fascinating mix of residences, small shops, and restaurants, so it’s where I’d want to be riding even if I weren’t avoiding cars.
- When the two options above fail: on larger streets without bicycle lanes, it’s generally acceptable to ride on the sidewalk. (This is nice as a bicyclist, but sometimes harrowing as a pedestrian attempting to herd a bouncy four-year-old. No crashes yet!)
- There are tons of other bicyclists in the city, and car drivers seem practiced at looking for bicycles.
We rented bikes from this shop and were very happy: two reasonable bicycles and a child seat for less than 13 USD for a day.
Our hosts moved this lizard from their house to the garden, where Theo and I were playing. The lizard was very still, probably hoping that we would go away. Theo declared that he was going to watch until it moved.
Tō-ji is a Buddhist temple that was built in 796. It’s grounds include a five-story wooden pagoda that is often used as a symbol of Kyoto.
Our host Momoko has a friend in the neighborhood who performs tea ceremonies and was kind enough to host us. Tea ceremonies are pretty extensively documented, and I’m not an expert by any means, so I will mostly just relay our experiences.
The ceremony was held in a tea house, a separate, smaller structure from the main house, with a view of the garden.
One of the nicest things about our stay near Kyoto, Japan were our AirBnB hosts, who lived in a separate living space within the same house as us. They frequently sent over food, toys, books, and offers of rides, and chatting with them in the garden while Theo played was lovely and informative. In several ways, they acted as month-long grandparents to Theo, from taking him on walks to gathering scrap lumber and tools to feed his creation impulses.
As we made our way from Kyoto to Oiso, Brian and Theo played Kerbal Space Program on the Shinkansen bullet train. (I worked and looked out the window, but it’s harder to make an interesting post title out of that.)
While waiting in line for a small roller coaster at DisneySea Tokyo, Theo befriended a gaggle of young adults who took turns lending him their Disney apparel and then chorusing “kawaii” (cute) when Theo would model it.