Enjoy the journey.

Tag: Kyoto

June Was….

Apologies for two gallery posts in a row, but it’s that time! We’ve bid farewell to June and are gearing up for a frankly horrible July… so we’re lucky we have such wonderful things to remember!

June was lovely meals, trips to Kyoto and wanders at wonderful Fushimi Inari; this time with Gem’s older sister and family who came to visit early in the month (our last visitors in Japan!) Nagahama has resumed regular warm-weather routines and we received more visits from our friends, the rat snakes. Kin’s school also had a much more exciting visit from sumo champion Hakuhō Shō and several members of his stable. And, of course, June was Gem’s graduation ceremony to a slightly higher grade of tea ceremony practice.

June was warm, family-filled and very, very busy… but was still nothing compared to the madness that will be July. Wish us luck, everyone!

(Gem will add a more complete gallery to our Facebook and Flickr pages later in the week!)

Gem and Kin



May Was…

Adventure time!


Or in other words: Our last chance to run out and about, without any worrying about packing, posting or looking for jobs back home!


Long walks (at Fushimi Inari in Kyoto)


The return of outdoor life.


In more than one environment!


Happy times for Gem in her pots.


And for other gardners as well! (Wisteria festival, Shiga)


A return to green fields.


And outdoor living. And it’s always time for tea!


May was also a long, long time ago now! We’re sorry for our longish silence; as you may have guessed, June has thus far been very, very busy! May was outside-the-house time and a sudden jump from “Soon it will be warm enough to wear kimono” weather to “Good God, it’s far too hot to wear kimono” weather. May was also busy-time at work, so our jobs and our running around meant we’re both a bit disgusted with ourselves: not much drawing time for Kin (although he did lots of pottery!) and not much writing or music time for Gem.

Most importantly, May was Kin’s birthday! His brand new birthday-gift travel bag, helped make our May the runaround time it was. May was also time for long train trips, with all the time for thinking, planning and talking things out that they allow. You’ll see some of the results in June and July!

Kin and Gem



February was…



The first faint stirrings of spring!



Indoors, that is.

(This is the Nagahama Bonbai Festival; a lovely collection of plum blossom bonsai.)


Frost-free cycling!





Warm times with friends. Indoors.




Peaceful times at home. Indoors.




The first insect of the season! Also indoors; this little guy followed us in with a load of washing and settled straight onto the indoor refugees.




Time for learning.




And practice.
(You can peek at more of Kin’s practice on our Facebook page)




And time for wine! Although much less than usual; this work with the physio is really paying off.




And time to see how other people feel the change of the season.

February was flowers, fun and frosty mornings. It was brisk walks outdoors and warm cuppas indoors, not to mention some Kansai travel with friends. It was also waiting, waiting, waiting! Waiting for the warm weather; it’s so close now, we can almost TASTE it. Waiting for the school holiday. And waiting for Shallow‘s arrival in March!  February was potential; but we are oh, so ready for the actuality of March.

Let’s get this year moving!

Kin and Gem



At The Moment…

IMG_3053Spring is around the corner!



…but it’s not here yet! We’re throwing off the outdoor chill along with our coats and enjoying afternoon tea together every day.


IMG_1978Kin is potting madly (his latest creation is a mizusashi to hold water for Gem’s tea ceremonies). This week he begins a machining course as well!


Kin is also doing a lot of drawing (since it’s too cold to play outdoors). Mostly for work, but a bit for fun as well. Keep an eye out; he will post some soon on our Facebook page.


Gem has resumed plunking at her guitar for the first time in over a decade and is playing lots of Beatles and Monkees songs.


Gem is also inspecting other people’s pots….

IMG_2984… and is looking forward to fixing up her own sorry specimens when the weather warms up (the indoor refugee pots are still going strong, though; they’ve kept us in herbs and salad greens all winter).

IMG_3022We’re braving the cold to venture outdoors in the city.

IMG_3106…and outside the city, too!

We are enjoying our newly tidy apartment, eating a lot of soup and drinking a lot of tea. We are only very reluctantly leaving our warm futon on weekday mornings. Gem is reading Vanity Fair (and it’s AWESOME! It’s like Jane Austen, only everyone’s evil! – Gem) and Kin is working his way through a variety of old DC cartoon series.

We’re wrapping up closing lessons, marking exam papers and scratching our heads at some of the answers we see and hear….

In Kin’s case (junior high), most questions result in roars of “It’s orange!”, “I’m sunny!” and “I like pussy!” all of which require his gentle correction:  A thump on the head with a rubber hammer and “I’m sorry, the answer was Tuesday.”

Gem’s (much younger) students offer sweeter, yet infinitely more perplexing answers:

“Momoka, where do you want to go?” “I want to go to Kenya! Because, I like black people!”

We’re looking forward to better fruit, to our spring holiday and to Shallow’s visit next month! 

And in the meantime….


We’re breathing deeply and waiting for the warm.

Kin and Gem


August was….

FandudeHot, HOT days!


Fireworks on the weekend.FeetStepping lightly on history (at Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto)

Lunch!Lunches at home (no kyuushoku!)

underwaterUnderwater adventures at Ishigaki.

lunchOur wedding anniversary; and the most nicely decorated rissole sandwich we’ve ever seen (not to mention those ginormous beers)!

August was sandy shoes and sunburnt bottoms, scraped knees, sleepless nights, wasp stings, far too many drinks… and lots and lots of fun! There have been adventures with new friends, not to mention an adventure or two with just the two of us! It’s been social, wonderful, very, very steamy… and we’re both a bit glad that it’s over!

Roll on September and the beginning of autumn!

Gem and Kin



June, 2013: Our Kyoto

We took our Aussie friends to town,IMG_1585
To play and play and play.
But once we all hopped off the train,
Our playful went away!

First we used our GPS,
And walked and walked and walked.
Our tired guests enjoyed themselves,
But weary feet soon balked.

Then we all hopped on a bus
And stood and stood and stood.
Hemmed in by sweaty, smelly folk
With elbows made of wood.

Now we’re wiser; we rent bikes
To fly and fly and flyIMG_1722
From Fushimi to Gion
And Shijo Shotengai

From Tofukiji we set forth
To Sanjusangendo.
We followed Kamogawa’s path
To party town Sanjo.

From here on in, I’m telling you
It’s true, it’s true, it’s true!
Cycling in Kyoto town’s
The only thing to do!


Okay, that’s something of an exaggeration; Kyoto is awesome, however you choose to hit it and the Kyoto buses (¥500 all-day passes FTW!) are definitely not the worst way to get around.

What’s NOT an exaggeration, however, is the COMPLETE awesomeness of using bicycles to get around the city. Kyoto has a large population, but it doesn’t really cover that much ground. It was built in a valley back when people still had to walk everywhere, so almost everything you’ll want to see is actually quite close to the centre of the city.

Kin and I have been hitting the Kyoto roads pretty hard lately (thank you, Google Maps!). We used to try and do one or two big things each time we went there, but the bikes have made the whole thing so comfortable and familiar that now we just hop off the train and sort of drift; hence the number of locations in the above (terrible) poem!


Our Kyoto

Is different every time! This week, we felt like a nice relaxing afternoon in the city. Nothing special, just a bit of shopping, a bit of a stroll, that sort of thing.

(If you’re suffering from travel fatigue and fancy a day like that, Kyoto has you covered.)

Most of our day was spent wandering in Gion and in the Shijo shopping district (a massive area which we still haven’t even BEGUN to explore, despite spending hours under its awnings). Kin was in search of art books, preferably second-hand, while I just fancied an amble. Even if you’re not much of a shopper, there is still an awful lot of interesting stuff in this area, and the ride to and from is simply lovely, whichever route you pick.

IMG_1537Kin found some excellent books while I admired the pretty ladies and earmarked some shops for more thorough investigation at a later date. Then, off we went to Sanjo!

Sanjo is a wonderful place and not nearly famous enough as a destination for visitors. Like most of Kyoto, it has some pretty solid history (involving the Shinsengumi), but if you’re a young party fiend, this is honestly the area you should check out on a Saturday night.

IMG_1666Kin and I are NOT young party fiends, but we have been befriended by several, so we’ve spent our fair share of time on the banks of the Kamo, sipping on beers and watching the street performers. Even if you aren’t in the mood for an all-nighter, watching the river after a long day’s touristing (even surrounded by this much activity) can be surprisingly restful.



I wouldn’t really recommend this itinerary for a non-local visiting the city, though, especially if you’re only dropping by for the day.

I will never give anyone orders about what should go and see in Kyoto, because it’s KYOTO. There are an incredible amount of different experiences available, which you should decide on based on the time available and your own tastes.



Cycling is simply the best way to tie those experiences together. It turns Kyoto into a CITY, not just a collection of locations. The cycling time feels more restful than its bus-based equivalent and makes for a much more relaxing time, with none of those low-blood-sugar-rushing-for-the-bus squabbles that are so easy to get into when travelling.

So, for those who are interested, I give you:

How To Experience Kyoto In This Most Perfect Of Ways

Man, I’m going to regret telling y’all this… There may never be a bike free again.

Okay, the way we do it is this: we get off the train at Kyoto station (if you have bags, you can rent a locker) and walk in a straight line for about ten minutes. Our destination is this place:IMG_1502


J-Hoppers is a hostel chain which, along with K’s House, we’ve had good experiences with. In Kyoto, we often don’t go there to stay, however, we go there because they provide the most awesome service ever: Rental bicycles! For ¥100 per hour (or ¥500 for the whole day and evening) your chariot awaits! There is a small amount of paperwork involved (just in case you’re actually a gang of international bike thieves). The bikes are pretty crappy, but are more than enough for city hopping. Just try to get one with a basket. You’ll thank me for that advice as soon as you buy ANYTHING.

If you don’t feel like walking that far, there are a lot of other options for renting cycles which are closer to the station; we’re just cheap and ¥500 is hard to argue with!

Then, choose a location on Maps (or download a cycling map), and off you go. Feel free to get sidetracked by the many wonderful things you’ll see on the way!

IMG_1522 L  Let me know about your trips in the area! Kyoto is always full of treasures and I’d love to see other people’s finds.

Happy travels!



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