So simple even a ten year old can do it…

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4:50pm JST

I catch the next number 17 bus from Nishi Honganji-mae and head home to Kawamachi Matsubara.

17:00pm JST

Yikes! Overshot my stop and have to bail at Shijo-Omeya, and now the story gets really strange…

I’m staring at my bus map when (and I am no making this up) a boy who couldn’t be more than ten years old, volunteers to give me directions. Not only did “The Prince of the Streets” take me to the nearest public bus map and try to explain the system to me, but he then led me across the street to the station where I could get a connecting bus back to Kawamachi Matsubara station. This child is like something straight out of 1960’s anime, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a watch that could summon a giant robot.

I love these people, always so ready to help a pathetic, wet kitty in a cardboard box.

17:30pm JST

Per the instructions of “The Prince of the Streets,” I am now riding the number 3 bus to Shijo Kawamachi. I give up my seat to two elderly women who are surprised and overly grateful in Japanese polite language. Scored karma points for that one but Buddah probably wasn’t watching.

[ First-Time Travelers Tip: Learn the difference between casual and polite language, the situation might depend on it! ]

At Shijo Kawamachi, I successfully catch the number 17 bus… but in the wrong direction… and ride straight through Sanjo Kawamachi, Kyoto’s vibrant shopping district. Not a problem, I just get off the bus, run across the street and catch the number 17 bus in the opposite direction. This works and I find my way back to Kawamachi Matsubara.

Hey, I’m actually getting good at this.

[ First-Time Travelers Tip: Purchase a one day pass, they save you money if you ride the bus more than a couple times! ]

6:30pm JST

I spent way too much time riding the bus tonight, however I did gain a greater understanding of the bus system and neighborhoods, and now I know how to get to Sanjo Kawaramachi.

7:00pm JST

Hustling up the street to the 7-Eleven for chocolate cream filled eclairs, chips, drinks and recycling bags to carry my dirty clothes to the coin laundry. I love 7-Eleven although this one doesn’t seem to carry “Match.” It’s clear that not all stores in the same conbini chain carry the same products.

Picking up dinner from the carry-out place down the street, what will it be tonight?

8:00pm JST

Kicking back on the couch with Japanese TV and tonight’s dinner of pork tonkatsu and tamago on rice… hey NHK is showing “Today’s Closeup” a program I watch back home. And now they’re airing an Enka program! Here’s a female singer playing Shamisen. This is good!

Nishi-Wonhanji Temple

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12:30pm JST

I now understand the bus system well enough to ride the bus to Nishi-Wonghanji Temple. Smart travelers use the city bus day pass, which lets you use the city busses for the price of the pass, 500 yen. I walk out onto the street and step right on the number 4 bus to Kyoto Station where I pick up a transfer bus to Nishi Hongonji-mae.

1:48 pm JST

I’m waiting for the number 28 bus and am cornered by a crazy woman who wants to exercise her English language skills and show me where the correct bus platform is. だいじょおぶ、だいじょおぶ …

2:00 pm JST

Arrived at Nishi Wonhanji, an extensive complex of temples and buildings to serve the Jodo Shinsu Pure Land sect of Buddhism. As you walk through the gates there is a collection box for earthquake victim relief. Entering through the Amidado gate you are immediately confronted with the great hall of the Amida Buddha. To the left is the larger Goeido hall where I spent a half hour in meditative prayer. Approaching each of these halls I couldn’t help but be struck by the age and massiveness of the wood beams and planking. This is the largest wooden structure in Kyoto and was built in the 13th century.

As in most Japanese spaces, to enter the hall you must remove your shoes. The halls are floored with REAL tatami mats.

There are also gardens, carefully manicured trees, what appears to be an heirloom botanical library, and a large fountain in the shape of a lotus.

4:00 pm JST

At 16:00 hours, one of the temple bells is rung. Sadly, I was unable to video tape this impressive event or record the lovely sound of that temple bell.

[ First-Time Travelers Tip: I’m traveling light on this photo shoot, with only the video camera in tow because it doesn’t do well to lug all your photo gear into a UNESCO World Heritage site! ]

The sun is setting behind the Amida hall so it’s time to say goodbye and pick up the City Bus back to the hotel…

In Search of Coin Laundry

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8:00am JST

Shooting some video footage with the new stereo microphone I purchased specifically for this trip. The location is picturesque and just around the corner from the neighborhood but suffers from an over abundance of noise. Also a lack of camera presence on my part.

11:00am – 12:00noon JST

I am now in search of the rumored neighborhood coin laundry. Google Street View found an empty building where the hotel flyer says there should be a coin laundry, but this doesn’t surprise me since the Google Car has probably been down this street exactly once in the past decade and stores come and go overnight in Japan.

[ I later learn that the coin laundry opened in March of this year ].

As I walk up the street I see we have a Daily Yamazki on the corner, where I pick up a vitamin drink and onigiri for breakfast. Not more than five minutes later I find a 7-eleven where Google Street View showed another empty office building. Another five minutes down a cross street I find the fabled coin laundry where Google Street View showed only empty space!

I also now have a five minute, as opposed to 20 minute, walk to the nearest 7-Eleven!

12:00noon JST

Note the coin laundry hours of operation: 6:00am – 12:00noon.

[ First-Time Travelers Tip: Forget the hotel laundry service and be adventurous, try a coin laundry! ]