July 14, 2001
now I'm feeling: Worn out but good!
enormous Kyoto train station
ladies inside Kyoto train station
in Sanjusangendo Temple
Inari Taisha Shrine
a woodblock print
my last rotation I am at Takatsumi JHS. Takatsumi JHS hosts
one of the most interesting students I have ever met. Her
name is Eiko. She lives at Torafusu, which is kind of like
a home/school for abandoned or abused children. In her case,
her father is god-knows-where, and her mother died about six
months ago. Her schoolwork has completely lagged and now she’s
part time at Torafusu and commutes to Takatsumi to do limited
has just about written her off, even the good teachers here.
The general sentiment is that she has no future, no hopes
of keeping up with her fellow classmates, and is a pity case
because now she is just about an orphan. She has some discipline
problems, but for the most part seems a very cheerful and
happy-go-lucky kid. Eiko comes by my desk most days I’m
here this rotation to speak English.
don’t know how, but she has managed to learn a lot of
English. I love the conversations I have with Eiko. She is
intelligent, resourceful, and when she doesn’t know
a word, phrase, or idea in English, she is somehow able to
make herself understood to me. We have a terrific rapport.
When she does know the English words she wants to say (which
is most of the time), she has excellent pronunciation. I told
one of the English teachers here that I think that she would
make a great competitor for the English recitation contest
in October. The teacher looked at me like I was insane. Then
she explained that since Eiko isn’t a full time student,
she was ineligible anyway. And they like to make good students
participants so that they have a chance (by means of the prize,
which is a trip to the USA) to get rewarded for all their
hard work. So Eiko’s out. It’s a shame, though.
I think all she needs is a chance and some motivation. I hope
she turns out all right.
our last trip to Kyoto fell short
of the mark, I needed to go again. Lesa really wanted to go,
too, and because Glenn didn’t want to, it was just the
two of us. It was a really, really rewarding trip. We saw
Sanjusangendo temple again, but this time we snagged some
TERRIFIC shots of the interior, thanks to our new and very
discrete digital cameras. We felt guilty for taking pictures
inside this sacred temple and national treasure, but .. oh,
well! We only took pictures when no one was looking and we
were very respectful about it.
We also saw another temple called Fushimi-Inari
Taisha Shrine, which is the wackiest shrine/temple complexes
I have seen in all of Japan. The complex consists of one large
shrine and five or so smaller shrines scattered over a mountainside
interlinked by these corridors of closely placed tori gates.
These tori gates are placed so close together that in some
places they completely block out the light from the sun and
surrounding forest. It is a downright creepy place and is
best visited towards sunset (just make sure and bring a flashlight!!).
It could easily be the setting for a Japanese horror movie.
Lesa and I had a terrific time getting lost among the long
dark hallways of tori gates and seeing the individual little
shrines. When we realized that we had no idea how to get out
of the maze and get back to the main temple we got freaked
out and started really running all over the mountain, trying
to find the main road before we completely lost the light.
We found the main temple and left the complex just as night
fell. It was very cool.
we left we were also able to stop off at the Kyoto Arts and
Crafts Center, the best place in the city to buy good souvenirs.
I came away with some silk paintings and other stuff. Expensive,
but I'll be glad to have them when I'm back.