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July 8th, 2019

Osaka: catchup and Kyoto, kind of

Wow, I really bailed on Japan blogging.

Hmm, looking at my journal, I'm not sure I left out that much. Met up with W a bunch of times for anime or dinner. Went to the Rose Garden, which was pretty lame, no blooms. Walked around that area for a while, got to Ogimachi Park. Been doing a lot of reading and hiding from humidity and cooking more at home.

Yesterday, though, I headed to Kyoto. But as I approached I looked at the map, and decided to ride one station further, to Yamashina. This was on an express train -- I think it made one stop between Osaka and Kyoto! so even at a lower speed, one stop was 8-9 km away. It looked nestled in mountains, and I spent 2-3 hours trying to get up into them. Mostly failing: there's a park to the NE, but I couldn't find a trail, and Google's help was useless. I did get right up to the forest, thanks to a cluster of Buddhist temples and their cemetery. Houses nearby had yards, and goats. Well, one goat, but that's infinitely more goats than I usually see in an urban area.

There was a tiny park area adjacent to the hill forest, with two cats visible, and a sign with 'neko' on it. Don't know if it was saying "don't bother the cats" or "don't feed the cats" or what.

Went to another temple to the norht, Bishamon-dō, rather large, and with several associated shrines.

Roads NW of there looked like they did go further up into the mountains, but I was getting tired of hiking. I found this tiny cluster of houses, on the other side of a canal from everything else. First you hit this communal dirt parking area, then go over a bridge, then there's not even a street, just a foot lane, with houses and yards along it (plus a couple of teeny tiny shrines, basically a sacred rock at foot level.) Felt like a taste of 'rural' Japan. Google claimed it was a cul-de-sac but was wrong, I kept heading south and eventually hooked up with real streets again.

Yamashina back to Kyoto was 7 minutes by express train, 15 by subway, or 25 by car! Nice to be somewhere where the trains are just better.

Oh, yesterway was Tanabata, which seems to be more of a private thing than a big festival. Though as I left home, I heard and found a small procession carrying a god? relic? through the streets of Osaka. I'd wondered if I'd run into more in Kyoto, but I got there after 5pm so things would probably have been running down anyway. Kyoto Station area is full of modern tall buildings and such -- also a post office open on Sunday! With lots of ATMs because Japan has postal banking.

Kyoto also had lots of white people. Yeah, I'm one to talk. But staying in an outer part of Osaka I tend to be the freak gaijin, not one tourist of many, and Yamashina was definitely off the beaten path.

Perhaps related to a high tourist content, the first shrine I found had signs announcing that 24 hour security cameras were present.

Some buses seem to be every 10 minutes, other 20-40. This sort of thing inhibits my "get on a bus and view the city" behavior. At least the stops have schedules, so I can know.

Mosquitoes seem to love me here more than in Boston. That or I'm more often near open water so there are more of them.

Took a Keihan train back to Osaka. Like Kintetsu, there are a confusing variety of express levels. Car would have been 49 minutes, 51 km; train was 40 minutes. And 400 yen, under $4!

Why are trains cheap? Density high enough to fill the seats of a train slung every 10 minutes helps, as does slinging trains every 10 minutes so people are happy to take trains. But I'm reminded of another factor: when I got off at Kyobashi station in Osaka, I immediately found Hotel Keihan and Keihan Mall. IIRC the private railways in Japan own a lot of land around their station, so get a lot of money in rents, which are high from the land value created by their own trains. It's like privatized land value tax. This might be why JR Loop is cheaper than the Osaka subways.

Man, a bit over three weeks left. I don't wanna go! Though I need to worry about actual income.

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Damien Sullivan
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