After a good night’s rest in the nicest hotel room I’ve had this entire trip, we made plans to venture out to Kyoto after breakfast at the hotel. Along the way, we stopped at a couple of Osaka landmarks.
I haven’t visited many temples or shrines so far, aside from ones I just happened to stumble upon. So to proactively redeem ourselves for the upcoming days of gluttony and insobriety, we decided to visit two major temples in Kyoto: Kinkakuji and Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Kinkakuji is a Zen Buddhist temple known as the golden pavilion because the exterior of the top two floors are covered in gold leaf. The entire temple complex is beautiful and totally Instagram-worthy, if that’s your thing.
The tourist crowds weren’t that bad and the grounds were nice and relaxing to stroll around. In contrast, Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine is built on a hill and if you want to see all of it, you have to make the climb. Tommy and I managed to do it, which isn’t saying much, but it is a climb.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is best known for the roughly 1000 torii gates that line the pathway. I suspect most people have seen at least one photo of the place. We had a theory that most people came in just far enough to get a nice photo of the gates and then left. And this theory was proven when we noticed the crowd thinning out after the first half of the climb, which made the walk up more bearable.
We arrived back to Osaka more tired than expected but, after a quick nap at the hotel, we were ready for dinner. We met up with Rob who, after about 20 years in Osaka, I guess can officially be called a local. He took us to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant. You grab whatever you want from the bottom conveyor and they charge you based on the number of plates you eat.
There’s a second conveyor belt above the first one where you receive special orders you enter on the touchpad. These orders come out surprisingly fast, like within 30 seconds of placing your order, on that conveyor. I had images of sushi chefs slaving away in the kitchen, being whipped to go faster as the orders came in.
Rob abandoned us after dinner so Tommy and I did some bar hopping. Asia may be one of the last bastions of smoking in the world. Everyone must be aware of the cancer risk but no one seems to care. This is a major downside to bars and clubs here.
Another variable when going out are the people you may meet. Everyone was very nice, but there were some tense conversations, such as with Eric from Hong Kong. He was a 25-year-old guy we met and Tommy couldn’t get over the fact that in spite of being so young, he was pro-China. Despite all the muttering under my breath, Tommy insisted on engaging. But, as quickly as a conversation can sour, when the alcohol flows, they can turn back just as fast. Here’s to alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.