Thursday, May 24, 2007

Day 10 - The one where Mari runs off and joins a cult

I apologize for the three posts at once - internet access is far and few between on this leg of the trip. I hope you scroll down and see all of our days in Kyoto. I:m hoping everything is working on the blog - I`m typing on a Japanese keyboard and all of the blogger instructions are in Japanese!

I’ve been slightly obsessed with seeing the Miho Museum for a couple of years. It’s a museum in the mountains near Kyoto that a woman and her daughter commissioned I.M. Pei to build. The crazy part is that the woman is a billionaire and she started a philosophy encouraging everyone to surround themselves with beauty. I’ve also heard this group called the “cult of beauty”. How could I not go when we are so close? Rob and Mama came along, but Huay decided that she wanted some more time in Kyoto. She was missed but she had a great time on her own. Here are a few of her shots from her morning.

We had to take a train then a bus to the museum. The ride was fascinating – rice paddies, bamboo forests, and mountains. There was also a crazy bridge being built.

Once we reached the museum, we had the option of taking a golf cart to the actual museum or to walk it.

We decided to walk it because the driver looked like a Cylon. Our fears of android domination grew when we saw the path we were to walk.

Rob coincidentally wore his Battlestar Galactica t-shirt (cylons are called toasters on the show) and he took a photo in the futuristic tunnel.

Being in the tunnel was beautiful and weird. When the golf cart drove back, the scene was right out of the scifi books I love to read.

Hey Mari! Is that an Amy Butler Barcelona skirt I see?

Why yes, it is! I made it right before the trip – I’ll blog about the pattern when I get back.

When you enter the museum, there is an expansive view of the temple and bell tower.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos of the artwork, but we were pleasantly surprised by the exhibits. The artwork was perfectly displayed and the attention to detail was amazing. We went to kind of see how crazy the museum was and left half-convinced in this way of life. We all strive to have beauty in our lives; what’s wrong with actually saying it aloud?

We had sweets and tea in the cafÈ. Rob had a green tea Bavarian cream cake and Mama and I had Japanese tea and a mochi anko sweet.

We ate a quick lunch at the station – a tonkatsu (port cutlet) restaurant. It was so tasty Mama and I kept talking about it for days.

When I asked Huay if she wanted to come to Japan with us, she had one request – that we visit Katsura Villa. This is 300 year old imperial residence that she studied in school that had a huge impact on modern architecture in the 40s and 50s. We were able to get reservations the day before, which was very lucky.

Katsura was very interesting, the whole garden and series of tea houses were built to give different views wherever you were. The prince who owned the villa usually entertained at night, so the relationship between the moon and grounds were meticulously planned. Again, Rob and Huay took some amazing photos.

After Katsura, we went our separate ways. I had a very important mission on my hands. Blossom emailed me about a store she thought would be fun to visit called Linnet in Kyoto. By this time, it was 5:15 and the store closed at 6 pm. I rushed over to the store and the sign said “closed”. Oh no! But I saw someone inside and asked if they were opened. She said yes, and I explained that the sign said closed. She changed the sign quickly and I browsed the store. This is one of those small jewel boxes of a store that you can spend all day looking at the beautiful things. They specialize in linen fabric and yarn, but they also had trim, buttons, shoes, patterns, kits, books, etc. When I tried to ask a question in my broken Japanese, the woman asked me if I spoke English. To my relief, her English was so much better than my Japanese. She was Mayumi Maeda, and she owned the store along with her husband. They make their own linen fabric and yarn and sell it online, and the store is at the front of their workspace. We talked for a good half an hour and she recommended some fabric to make a dress out of. I’m going to take photos of my purchases and talk a bit more about the store in another post, but I have to just say what an amazingly kind woman Mayumi is. It was one of my highlights of our stay in Kyoto, talking with someone who appreciates craft and likes to laugh as well! Their fabric is AMAZING and is of so much better quality than I’ve ever seen back at home. It was an inspiration to be in their store.

Rob and Huay spent their time buying pastries for our breakfast the next morning. Rob also took a picture of one of our favorite posters in Japan – it says, “We won’t forgive perverts!” meaning the men who feel women up in the crowded trains. A couple of girls saw Rob taking the photo and gave him strange looks.

Next – how can we top staying in our own machiya in Kyoto? You’ll find out!


yumi said...

What interesting outings in Kyoto. It looks like so much fun at the museum. What a neat tunnel.

lupinbunny said...

Your pictures have swayed me - I think Japan has jumped to number 1 on the 'next place to travel' list. My boy will be thrilled (its been his number 1 for a while). Tell me, how difficult will it be, or how much will we miss out on if we have no Japanese between us?

blossom said...

yay! i'm so happy and envious that you get to go to linnet!! love all of your pictures, now you made me want to go travel with you!

MinaG said...

It's so neat seeing places like the Miho museum and Katsura in settings that is so congested in other areas. Looking forward to hearing how you topped staying at the machiya!

Sue said...

The Moss Temple was beautiful -- was great photos.
Had to laugh that you loved the "octopus balls"...!
And they needs those pervert signs in Paris!

Amanda said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wondeful pictures and descriptions! I haven't checked your blog for a while and today, I spent my whole lunch oohing and ahhing over your pictures and your wonderful trip! I'm so envious - it looks like you are having the best vacation ever!

slt said...

i am a new Marirob adict! i love your blog and must admit, you've made a wonderful...and expensive...impression on me! i'm now trying to get my sewing machine up to Vermont from Delaware AND dying to travel to Asia!