Day 9

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Friday, May 28—Kyoto

As Advertised: This morning your sightseeing begins with a visit to Kinkakuji Temple, with its magnificent Golden Pavilion and the old Imperial Palace. Your next stop will be the Heian Shrine, where the graceful old court life is reflected in the brightly colored shrine, with its vermilion pillars, green roof, and in its enchanting inner gardens, ponds and the Sanjusangen-do Temple. The balance of the day is yours for independent exploring.

We got up at 6 and arrived before 7 at the Top of Kyoto restaurant, the “revolving” restaurant on top of the hotel. Getting there required changing elevators in midstream, as only one of the four hotel elevators went all the way to the top. We were seated immediately and had a “set breakfast” of eggs, bacon, roll, orange juice, and coffee. Although we dragged this out as long as we could, it eventually became painfully obvious that the restaurant was not revolving, and that our view was far from the best. We thought we might get back up to the top sometime in the evening (when perhaps the place would be turning) for a cocktail, but we never did.

At 8:50 we departed on our day’s outing—to Sanju-sangen-do, then Kinkaku-ji, then Heian-jingu. We returned to the hotel about 1:30.

After freshening up a bit, Barney and I went with Tom and Joan and our sons to the Porta Mall for lunch at Toh-Sai restaurant.

Joan had made inquiries and learned that there was a Laundromat near our hotel, so Barney and I went back to the room to gather up our laundry to be washed. When we got ready to leave, we found that Joan had gone on ahead, and we had not gotten detailed instructions from her on the location of the laundry. She said she had gotten a map from the front desk, so we attempted to do the same—without much success until I finally resorted to using the phrase recommended in our Tourist’s Language Handbook: “koin randorii.” Barney was appalled at what he considered my patronizing diction, but these proved to be the magic words, and the sketch map was produced, directing us to “Jabu-Jabu Land” on Shichijo-dori (Sixth Street).

We arrived at the laundry to find that it was the merest hole in the wall, a tiny space, opening onto the sidewalk, with just enough space for three ordinary washers, a couple of large-capacity washers, and four large dryers stacked two-up. A change machine dispensed the required ¥100 coins. Since Barney spent ¥900 for the washers, I guess each load must have cost ¥300. This included the detergent, we were surprised and pleased to learn; it was automatically dispensed by the machine. I spent ¥200 to dry the clothes (two cycles).

Although this was a more-or-less straightforward procedure, any possible uncertainty removed by the fact that each washer evidently had only one cycle (for better or for worse), it was complicated by the presence of washed clothes left by another patron (and nothing to put them in). Also, during the time we were monopolizing the place, an elderly Japanese woman came with her laundry. Luckily, we were nearly finished, and we managed, by dint of smiles and gestures, to communicate this and to consolidate our loads in such a way that a machine was available for her fairly soon.

While the clothes were being washed and dried, there was little to do but wait. The tiny interior space accommodated a couple of dinette-type chairs, which Joan and I placed outside, where it was marginally cooler. There we sat and read. As we were finishing up, one or the other (or both) of Joan’s sons arrived with his laundry as well.

I did have one more adventure while the clothes were in the washer. Joan had discovered that there was a photo store a block or so away from the laundry where it might be possible to have my digital photos transferred to a CD. Since I had filled one memory card and was rapidly filling the other, this seemed a prudent thing to do. I found the place easily and communicated, as in the past, mostly by gesture. I removed the Compact Flash card from my camera and asked if the pictures could be transferred to a CD (pointing to CDs on the wall). I was easily enough understood, my card was taken, and I was told to come back in an hour. The price was ¥525. Not till I got home did I find what I had bought for that price: not just the pictures, but thumbnails and some sort of viewer, possibly even editing software. Since all the instructions and button labels are in Japanese, perhaps I’ll never know!

We returned to the room about 5:30 to rest, read, and snack. I showered and washed my hair, and we briefly considered going out again but decided we were too tired and not hungry enough to make the effort. It had been a long day!