After browsing Kuzuha Mall, I hopped back on the train and headed toward Kyoto. Where in Kyoto? I have no idea. I felt a bit adventurous and just picked a random stop and got off. Ended up here where I enjoyed some alone time to sort thoughts out.
This is something I’ve always looked forward to doing in Japan before coming here – walk down to one of these canals and just relax on a spot. I’ve been in Japan for over four months now and I got a lot of reflecting to do. Going out every weekend just because. Trying new things just because. Eating new things just because. Anything to keep myself exploring and discovering new things just because. While I’m doing all this, it doesn’t feel like I’m absorbing it; my mind is not keeping up. It might sound funny but the fact that I’m in Japan still feels a little unbelievable to myself. Even that much I haven’t felt like I have fully acknowledged yet haha.
So to be out here and do absolutely nothing for oncee felt absolutely refreshing. I was freezing… but it was nice nonetheless. Maybe I’ll cover this in details in another post later but for now, I want to say that I’ve learned a lot about Japan since coming here. I guess that goes without saying since I am living with a host family, interacting with the locals, and diving into the culture. But the first and one of the most important thing I learned here is that… I don’t really know anything about Japan. I thought I did. Sure… I’ve studied some Japanese language, culture, business, literature, and geography of Japan and have been reading Danny Choo’s blog for the past 6-7 years. Humbly speaking, all that accumulated to what I can only say was “an idea of Japan”; I only “know of” Japan but not much beyond that. Some of the things that I thought I knew got completely tossed out the window. Living here to the fullest that I’m capable of, I think I’m starting to get a real sense of this country.
I’m studying, learning and using Japanese more frequently here than any time in the US. This also goes without saying but I don’t dare to say that I’ve improved or say that my Japanese is “good”. I’m still studying afterall. I can comfortably get around by myself, converse with others, order food (very important), understand signs, and other basic daily things without much fuss or making things awkward. It’s handy but I’m certainly not content with this level. I think I’ll be a little satisfied when I can actually understand politics in Japanese ^^;. Funny side effect: My English proficiency has dropped a bit; I sometimes unconsciously slur in Japanese with my English (“that can’t be good でしょ?”), speak English in Katakana, or confuse my l/r. I guess that’s a good sign… XD
On the move again… bumbled my way to Kyoto station, apparently one of the biggest in Japan with hotels, department stores, restaurants, and bunch of other stuff built inside. I think main city train stations are some of the more fascinating modern developments in Japan; with everything inside, the station itself can practically be a little town of its own! It’s certainly huge but I think it’s the one of the nicest stations I have seen so far (THAT GLASS!). Anyway, I didn’t bother to go inside because I was through with malls for the week. But across the street…
Hello Kyoto Tower! Believe it or not, this is actually the tallest structure in Kyoto at 131 meters. When I first saw it, I was quite underwhelmed ^^;. It’s definitely not that tall compared to more industrialized cities but it is quite towering in Kyoto, where most houses range from 1-5 floors. It looked much taller when I first saw it from Kiyomizudera. Anyway, I tried going up there but the tower is closed off until some time in April this year. Bummer.
Just a post to let out some thoughts.