rachelmanija: (Princess Bride: Let me sum up)
( Mar. 15th, 2012 04:02 am)
When we finally managed to extract ourselves from the Matrix-like maze of Tokyo Station, everyone voted for doing something relatively peaceful. I suggested Yanaka, a quiet part of Tokyo with an old-school vibe and a cemetery where I hope the cherry trees might be blooming. No such luck with the sakura, but we walked around the cemetery and then next door to a beautiful temple with a flowering plum tree.

We then returned to Tokyo station, where I got a bento with fried chicken and "pick three types of rice," all hot. (The bento lady had my number at a glance. "Do you speak Japanese?" she asked in Japanese.

"A little bit," I said.

"This rice is a very traditional Japanese food," she said. Indicating the types: "Mixed vegetables. Chestnut. Beans. And sakura." I looked closely. Sure enough, one had bits of pink flower petals included. I got that, of course, plus chestnut (that one turned out to the best) and veggies.

We got on the very comfy bullet train, I ate the bento, and promptly fell asleep. At Kyoto station (yes, I woke up in time) we got directed downstairs, then upstairs, then back downstairs, then upstairs again. Eventually, we made it to the connecting train, and thence to Shunkoin.

The temple is part of a huge temple complex with 42 temples and as many beautiful Zen gardens, of cherry trees (completely bare now), gravel, and pines. It's very cold (30s and 40s) and periodically raining. I'll write more later about the temple and our Zen experience, but for now, I will close with a little trip I made today to a used English bookshop (recommended by Reverend Taka.)

It's Green e books, on the second floor up a steep flight of stairs. A sign outside explained that they did buy books, but only during business hours, and implored people not to leave boxes of books outside their door or throw them through bars of the gate.

A pamphlet for the bookshop was mostly in Japanese, with English limited to a quote by Bob Marley (When one door is closed, don't you know, another is open," and "Lady's Pleasure Party!! With OLIVIA," "Patchouli Astrology Retreat!!" and, simply and enigmatically, "CATBODY!!"

As befitted the pamphlet, the store had a somewhat New Agey slant, with the usual peculiar assortment of books. The travel section had "Tacos on the Tundra" shelved beside "Ten Great Walks in Jaipur," which seemed to me to sum everything up.

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