we woke up from our afternoon nap rather late. it was 7PM already… we quickly rushed down to the reception area, and asked the owner of the ryokan if there will be hanabi (fireworks) around. it was Christmas Eve, and supposedly — from what i heard — it’s an evening for couples, much like Valentine’s Day in the States… or was it Christmas day? we didn’t remember exactly.
unfortunately, the owned didn’t know. well, maybe we got it all wrong. maybe it’s tomorrow…
so, we decided to venture to the downtown area and grab dinner at the Ponto-cho area. we took the train once again, still not knowing how to travel by bus. the downtown area was packed with couples holding hands. so, we did, too… he he. we tried to follow those couples, hoping maybe they will lead us to the fireworks, but it never happened. most of them just went to restaurants or bars, and hung out there.
we walked around the Teramachi and Shinkyogoku walk, which was full of people earlier this afternoon, but tonight there were just lots of blinking lights from Pachinko (a combination of slot machine and pinball machine, Japanese style) houses.
speaking of pachinko, i was so amused with the amount of pachinko houses in Kyoto. they are huuuge! and the facade decoration is quite crazy. some are so bright with insane amount of neon lights, some are so elegant, that i thought it was a boutique… and there are so many of them, facing each other, and on almost every block on the main street.
after a while, we got tired and decided to get something to eat. there are so many cute little restaurants there, but honestly, they were a bit intimidating. first of all, Japanese menus scare us. we can’t read them! and we’re not so sure if they have English menu inside… so, instead we went to one of the Lipton restaurants in Ponto-cho area… Lipton sounds English. in Japan, the Lipton tea actually has a chain of restaurants… swanky ones, too. we had Omu-rice (omelette with rice fillings), spaghetti and a long talk. the atmosphere was nice… and we could smoke, too.
the weird thing is, right next to the Lipton restaurant there is a Hagendaaz ice cream shop. it’s open and there is a long line of young japanese couples waiting to buy the ice cream… in the middle of winter night!
the restaurant was full of couples. but the seat next to us were occupied by four japanese girls hanging out on their Christmas eve. at one point, they started to talk about us… i guess they didn’t know that ari could understand japanese, even just a little. so, we ended up eavesdropping. it’s cute to hear that they wished that they could go travelling overseas with their boyfriends… aww…
after spending over two hours at the dinner table, we went out and started to walk around again. we met a few well-clothed (black suit and black ties) middle age men guarding the back door of Pachinko… hmm, interesting.
we later came back to the ryokan, which was still freezing, since we couldn’t figure out how to work the heater timer. so, we thought it would be a good idea to take a hot bath… well, it didn’t really work out that way either… the water heater stopped working in the middle of the bath, leaving us with just a warm water that kept getting cooler every minute and a freezing room… brr…
photo album: Japan Trip: Day 1 (23-24 December 2005).