Kanazawa bound

Tony refused to leave our island paradise. The lawns around his yurt needed maintaining and he imagined a little kayak business out front. However, my credit card was starting to mould up from the humidity so we were Kanazawa bound. The town bus, ferry, two local trains and the bullet were a breeze in reverse, 5 hours later we arrived. 

The 16th floor of the Kanazawa sky hotel was luxury, we had a bed (not a tatami mat), we had a buffet (not a charcoal grill), we had 6 floors of shopping below us including a food court (not a 20 minute walk to a food stall) and we had a lobby bar with staggering views (not a vending machine). But the best bit by a long shot is the ‘loop bus’ because we couldn’t get lost. With map in hand and a couple of coins, we spent a couple of days exploring. 

In between being professional tourista’s, Kanazawa threw us a couple of gems. The annual Kanazawa ukulele festival was a great find. Turn after turn of Japanese groups, playing ukulele and doing the hula in full island get up. All turns began with the Japanese version of the pacific welcome ‘aroha’. The second was the Kanazawa acapella competition. This meant 100’s of Japanese boy bands banging out American pop hits from every corner of the city for 2 days. With Karaoke as the national pastime here, there were some great pipes.

The funniest by a long shot though was the Ninja temple. Ninja’s I now realise were very small…Tony is not. 5 levels over 2 floors, 26 hidden staircases, and many trap doors and pit falls were fascinating for our little japanese tour group and myself. Tony however, kept banging his head on the low studs and getting his considerable bulk stuck in the narrow staircases, on the plus side however he was never going to fall down ninja size trap doors or pitfalls. Sadly a ninja he will never be!

Kyoto bound

Finally got to ride the bullet train. An amazing experience, fast, clean and punctual to the second. At 300 kms an hour we were in Kyoto in 2 hours. Temple, drink beer, temple, drink beer…repeat. The beer is an absolute necessity as all temples in Kyoto are on top of mountains, and in 35 degree heat, it was the only carrot getting this old donkey up the hill. Shogun temples, Shinto temples, Buddhist temples. We have been blessed by them all.

Oski took us to a couple of izakaya food joints, where we now have official membership cards. So if we ever feel the need to listen to loud music, inhale cigarette smoke (smoking is permitted in all eating and drinking establishments in Japan, but banned on the street…go figure!?), gamble at our table, or eat staggering amounts of fried food – we can return as honoured guests.

Oski is also appalled at his mother’s lack of Japanese language skills, lack of protocol knowledge and inability to embrace the disturbing foods I am presented with daily. A quails egg shoved in a baby octopuses head is not passing these lips honey! Tony on the other hand is almost fluent and hasn’t stopped eating since we got here. He tries anything and everything and is happily adopting the Buddha/sumo look. 

Naoshima – the art island

This place is paradise really. Not quite sure how we blundered our way down here on bullet train, two local trains, a ferry and the island bus, with not much more than a wing and a prayer (luckily we had paid in advance) and some serious miming skills. We sit here in fear of the fact that we also have to get ourselves out of here. 

Not today’s problem though. Today is typhoon day. Yes folks with an impressive sea front cottage and sea front yurt tomorrow night we are quite literally sitting staring at the typhoon that just hit the Phillipines. Still, it’s free, and in Japan that is always a bonus. 

This place is full of artworks, both inside the 3 main galleries and scattered around the island. The art itself is very alternative and we have had lots of laughs at Tony ramming his feet into too small slippers to stand in rooms full of stones, blank concrete rooms and rooms with nothing but empty frames in them. He finally called it quits on all art today after suffering a $40.00 entrance fee to look at grass growing.  “I can look at my own bloody grass growing for free.” And so endth the art tours.