Sunday, 28 September 2014

The One with That Guy.

Prowling a Kyoto evening search of the world's best Indian food (where else would you go?)
On the way, I inadvertently became part of the entourage of Someone who clearly needs a capital S. You know-- Mr Celebrity. That Guy. Video and still cameras, long microphones on even longer poles, surrounded him -- and a cluster of men and women all far taller and younger than him who nodded excitedly when he paused and laughed uproariously when he spoke. He was walking my way, so they were all walking my way--I was walking our way; I was part of Them. 

I was walking down Kiyamachi Street, Kyoto, with That Guy. 

A woman walking the opposite direction clutched her partner's arm and looked excited enough to faint. That Guy was Brad Pitt, Leonardo Dicaprio, George Clooney maybe (except out of shape and short and wearing a baggy cricket jumper).You can't see his face in my photo. It probably doesn't matter.That Guy has a thousand faces. Ironic, really.

Oh yeah, the food wasn't that special, and I also saw the Golden Pagoda.

Breathtaking, really. Surrounded by squealing photographers. I could have been excited enough to faint.

Seriously, breathtaking.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Kyoto.What is the collective noun for butterflies?

Spent the day meandering through temples then on through the timber-housed, cobbled streets of Gion. First sight of a real life Geisha was like seeing Cinderella. Then I saw more and more of them, and the simpler but pretty style of dozens of ordinary Japanese girls in bright, pretty kimonos and sashes. Life must be strange for a geisha. Of course, no woman would go out dressed like that and not expect to be stared at. But on the streets of Gion, every few metres they are stopped by tourists for photos, and the geishas seem to freeze in time and space--the breeze itself seems to dart around them. The baubles in their hair, their marzipan-white faces and gem-bright kimonos give them the look of candied butterflies.

l googled it. The collective noun for butterflies is either a swarm or a flutter. I'll go with flutter. A flutter of kimonos. Kyoto is beautiful.

(Grrr at centred text, my software won't let me change the justification on my phone!  I'll fix it when I get home)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Takayama: a few lists about Japan.

I'm staying in a gorgeous riverside antique ryokan (small house hotel) run by a family that seems obsessed with antique things. There is a samurai suit of armour in the foyer downstairs along with shelves of old pottery and musty old books that look even more mysterious than normal locked up books because I wouldn't be able to read them, even with a key. Well, not that kind of key. As mysterious as street signs. 

Up a very steep set of stairs with a suitcase large enough to make the ryokan owners laugh to a surprisingly large room that is actually three rooms put together, with sliding paper doors between each and tatami mats in the floors. I wase served a lovely Japanese style dinner in one of these rooms, sitting on the floor at what looks like a large coffee table, while futons were rolled out on the floor in the next room and someone's baby cried loudly very close by as a reminder that this is reality, not an idyllic episode of Getaway.

Times I need to change my shoes in a ryokan (using a quick midday pitstop as an example): coming into the ryokan, going into my room, going out of my room, going into the toilets (there are shared slippers specially offered for that, with toilet slippers printed on them in gold foil like airport novel titles), coming out of the toilets, walking down the hall, going into my room, coming out of my room, walking down the stairs, preparing to leave the ryokan.

Hardest thing to find: an ATM , closely followed by accommodation that accepts Visa cards.

Strangest thing I've found in a bathroom: Not the electric toilet seats, not even the bathtub built to be used by an entire family all at the same time (and filled with water already used by the previous family!)but... the Aladdin's cave/ KingTut's tomb that doubles as a washroom and features a Samurai suit of armour complete with helmet and with plates sewn together with dark blue yarn that looks like shoelaces.  

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Ordering coffee in Japan

I'm usually more tempted by shoes but I'm here in Japan because of an Air Asia on-sale impulse buy from way back in 2013. My flight left after midnight with a 'slight delay' for 'operational reasons' (Code for: we're not going to tell you) and I didn't preorder food (it isn't included in the fare) so wasn't irritated with interruptions while trying to doze. 

I was upgraded for our next leg--yay! So was in some comfort for the next delay, when the captain was very upfront about telling us why. A drunk man was refusing to leave his seat in the exit  row. The dispute lasted an hour. Security was called and succeeded in getting him to the door of the plane, where he continued arguing. I was tempted to do the heroic thing, leaping to my feet and pushing him out the door myself. 

Business class was nice although I still don't really understand why I couldn't have a coffee (there seemed to be 3 or 4 different reasons, all of which entailed pointing at photographs of coffee and nodding). But they were quite clear about why I couldn't have even a single beer. Perhaps it was the drunk refuser who decided for them. The bar was 'closed'.

Most amusing meal: ramen in the hotel cafe, that turned out to be linguine carbonara.
Most Lost in Translation moment: stewardess trying to explain why I couldn't have coffee.

Fantasy Worlds at the Brisbane Writers Festival

This will be exciting! Appearance at the Brisbane Writers Festival  with Garth Nix, Amie Kaufman and Jay Ktistoff!