Another day of raising from bed far too damn early; only to hop on trains and run like the wind to make all our train/plane connections. *sigh* The day started off poorly as one of the students spent the night in S-sensai’s room and another had the key to her room with him at the station. But after that got storted out, things went relatively smoothly until Narita. Then there were massive lines to get through security and customs and somehow AWelkin, Bryon & 2 of the other students didn’t see us waiting for them after customs so we were running behind when we finally decided to hurry up through immigration and to meet them at the boarding gate. Though we did see them as we waited to get through immigration, confirmed that all students were accounted for and made our flight to O’Hare without a problem. Our next problem was that 3 students went missing and nearly missed the flight from O’Hare to Cedar Rapids. Since that was the last flight of the night to CR; AWelkin (doing that responsible teacher thing) was planning on staying behind to find them but they showed up pretty much as the boarding was finishing up. So we all got home safely; Ariesna and I ate out with AWelkin and Bryon that night and my lovely finance ever so patiently listened to all of us bitch our anger and frustration out about the trip. *sigh* I’m too damn lucky for words to have a fiance like her.

Then we went home and I gave Ariesna all the souvenirs that I’d gotten for her on the trip and off to bed I went.

Today we went to Kyoto. We’d been warned that it was one of the hottest places in Japan, but I hadn’t paid too much attention to the warnings thinking that I wouldn’t really notice the difference after the heat I’d already been dealing with. Boy was I ever wrong! It was the single most brutal day of heat and misery that I’ve ever experienced. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d been wearing shorts, but AWelkin had mentioned prior to the trip that it was one of the more conservative areas of Japan and we shouldn’t wear shorts there because it’s just not done1. I have to say that if I’d known in advance how brutal the heat would be there; I would have ignored that cultural advice and worn shorts. It was horrific and it make matters worse, the main temple we’d come to see was more than just a little ways from the train station and all the walking was uphill. Before we got there though, we rode the local bus system which wasn’t too bad, except when it got crowded2. Once the bus desposited us at the base of the hill to the temple; we started the climb, ignoring all the shops on the way up. When we finally made it to the top of the hill; we found we had to go up a set of steep stairs to get to the actual temple area. I think we’d already visited another temple that day (I’ll have to go through all the tickets and scraps I saved from the trip to double-check) and so AWelkin allowed those students who wanted to; to rest at the base of the temples. Only about 5 of us (3, if you didn’t count AWelkin & Bryon) actually went in. It was the most beautiful temple we’d seen yet and had a view of the valley area below which rivalled (but didn’t quite beat) the view of the ocean at the one previous temple. Again, words fail me here so I’ll have to hurry up and see about posting some pictures.

Today we had to get up and check out of the hotel by 6:00 AM (or 5:45 AM if you had phone charges to pay for like I did). Then we ran to catch the early morning train and made some exchanges to get over to Takarazuka, where we visited the Osamu Tezuka Museum. The walk to the museum from the train station would not have been so bad; if we weren’t carrying our luggage for the next 3 days with us1. The museum wasn’t as big as say the Ghibli museum had been but it was packed with stuff about Tezuka and his work. Also in the basement level, they ran an hour long “animation course”2. The course ran off a set of computer built into little desks with built-in lightboxes. You were supposed to follow along with what they were saying via your computer, but we didn’t speak enough Japanese and none of us read any Japanese, so that part was hard. Fortunately, some of the museum employees spoke enough English that we were able to participate and make our own little 2 frame animation. Mine was of my CoffeeBear character waving and it received the Astro Boy Seal of Approval3 *grin* Oh and one of the other nice things about the museum was that they allowed you to take pictures inside. So, I’ll see about posting some of those later.

Today, we hit 3 temples over in the Kamakura region. And since I’m feeling lazy, I’m just going to post some bullet points about them for now:

    Hasudera: MASSIVE Buddha

  • Great pictures thanks to cooperative sky
  • HOT, HOT walk to Buddha
    Temple 2: Japanese shrine (maybe Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine?)

  • BLOODY MISERABLE HEAT and stairs on walk up to temple
  • Gorgeous scenary
  • Rest area near top with excellent apple juice
  • Rest area overlooks the city area and the ocean
  • saw some hawks/falcons/eagles flying from rest area, very cool
  • Got a picture of a couple of ladies wearing kimonos outside temple, really like the design of the white one with blue flowers
    Temple 3: Japanese shrine 2 (maybe Hasedera?)

  • Massive and beautiful
  • heat started to go down a bit
  • saw shrine maidens wearing traditional grab, but didn’t get a chance to ask them for a picture
  • had a small museum area with various things of interest: sword, arrows, bows, scrolls, vases, kimonos
    Shopping on way back to hotel

  • bought small something for Mom, K and Grandma D.
  • helped pick out omiyage for K-san.
  • ate dinner with AWelkin and Bryon again, this time also with Y, an old friend of AWelkin’s
  • nice itlian place, had salomn cream penne, very nice
  • got back to hotel late, tried calling Ariesna but got no answer

  • This morning had e-mail from Ariesna that she’s been having a rough time (smashed her hand) but other than that she’s ok.
  • Also, I had some bizarre dream last night. Don’t remember much, but it seemed like I’d had it before and it seems there was some odd ball drug use going on in the dream. As I said, it was bizarre.

This morning was another sweltering day and after a short hop on the train; we walked up to Osamu Tezuka Productions. When you first step off the street towards their door; there’s a marble (maybe granite) status of Astro Boy. Then you walk inside and immediately you’re surrounded by merchandise, mostly from Astro Boy but also from some of Tezuka’s other series, such as Princess Knight. Then it was up the stairs and we split up with half of us touring of the offices while the other half watched a video. I went on the tour and the wonderful people there let me video tape it; so I won’t talk about it here. Then we went back to the waiting area and watched some of Tezuka’s animation work while the other group go the tour. It was a very nice environmental work with no words set to one of Tchaikovsky’s operas. Then they brought in one of Tezuka’s former assistants and he gave a short presentation about what it was like to be an assistant. I was still suffering from the heat, so my fried brains couldn’t think of a question before the presentation was over. On the other hand, at least I wasn’t sleeping with my head on the table through the presentation.