May. 31st, 2012

sarahblack: (Geisha)
Yesterday was my last day in Kyoto. I took it pretty easy - bummed around some temples and took pictures of all the funny things at the grocery store. And then it was time to go to Aizuwakamatsu!

Aizuwakamatsu is such a great place to visit. Seriously, I'm so glad I decided to take Elin's advice and come here. (She's a friend who lived in Japan for over a year and gave me a lot of great advice.)

I arrived this morning, after a bus ride from Kyoto to Fukushima and a train ride from Fukushima. Aizu is a little samurai town with some very nice tourist spots to discover. I started by looking at the Byakkotai members' graves - they were young teenage samurai who committed suicide when they thought their cause was lost. Then I took a turn around the Sazaedo temple - it's a hexagon shape, and you go up one spiral stairway but come down another!

I also went to an outdoor samurai museum, where you can see the kind of house a wealthy samurai would live in, and the Oyakuen garden. It was very pretty, but I think Kyoto has kind of spoiled me when it comes to scenic beauty. Takes more to really impress me!

For lunch I tried some cold Soba - noodles that you dip into a very yummy sauce - and I was so proud of myself when I managed to find the restaurant using only the bus map and my dubious sense of direction. (Okay, so I asked one guy for directions, but I was basically on top of the restaurant when that happened. It's not my fault that I can't read Japanese characters!)

After lunch I had a lot of fun exploring Tsuruga-jyo Castle. It's a really pretty one! And inside there's a museum with a lot of cool samurai stuff. There's also a place where you can try on a kimono! I totally did, and got a picture. Seriously pretty kimono, too. Just the kimono thing was worth the admission price, but the view from the top was pretty fabulous too.

I kind of wanted to visit a sake brewery too, but it was closing time by the time I finished at the castle. Instead I met up with Tommy and his girlfriend, Natsumi, who are my couchsurfing hosts here in Aizu. They took me out for dinner at an Okonomiaki place. It's similar to shabu shabu because you cook your food yourself, but instead of boiling your food in broth, you make kind of an omelette out of the vegetables, meat (or seafood), egg and other stuff that's thrown in there, using the hot plate that is built into your table. Yummy!

Anyway, I really need to go to sleep now. Tommy is going to take me with him to the school where he teaches English, and we need to get up early. I'm looking forward to meeting the kids! I might also go to an onsen tomorrow. Excitement!


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Sarah Black

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