Weekend in Kyoto

 The Veggies recently hosted our first visitors from the United States of America!! (I'm suffering from low-grade homesickness this week which is manifesting itself in patriotism. B and I walked by the U.S. embassy after a run the other day and I was spell-bound by the flag. I (creepily) whispered "It's beeeeaaaautiful". Boz is understandably nervous and therefore completely ignoring this issue. It's fine. I think we'll probably chat about it on July 4th when I shoot fireworks off the 25th floor of the T-Cube.)

One of Boz's college roomies, Dave Campbell (aka Soup) and his fabulous wife, Anne, just spent 9 days with us. They landed last Friday at like 11pm or something equally horrible...and we all headed down to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, early Saturday morning. Some of my Tokyo friends knew that I was planning this trip and fed me full of sweet, boldfaced lies such as "Oh, Kyoto is so quaint! It'll be so good to get out of the city!" Kyoto could make Disney World look deserted. The landscape, architecture, and cultural surprises (e.g. geisha, tea houses) are absolutely surreal...but this place is FAR from a well-kept secret. So, for the 2 or 3 people that weren't in Kyoto last weekend, here's what you missed:

Here we have the sh*ttiest (and most curiously popular) job in Kyoto.
At least he has smokin' leg muscles. Stock options...no. Fantastic quads...yes.

This is Boz's 'where the hell are we?' face.
 (However, as he is entirely unfamiliar with self-doubt, he will immediately make a convincing decision and everyone will follow. Except for me, of course. I'll complain that his chosen route is too hilly.)

EVERYONE in Kyoto wears a kimono or yukata. A yukata is a lightweight summertime kimono.
 It's the bikini of kimonos.

This is the view from Kiyomizu-dera, a temple first built in 798
and reconstructed in 1633.
 There are approximately a billion people standing behind me as I take this ultimately serene picture.

Delectable treats at Nishiki Market
(Fellow Clevelanders...Nishiki is totally the Japanese West Side Market.)
I'm not sure what we have on the right. It's clearly slathered in something...which means it might be a dessert...so I love it. (And for the record, I don't know what we have on the left either.)

The bamboo forest
No pandas, but an impressively dense 1/2 mile corridor of greenery...with little bursts of sunlight seeping in. Not bad...not bad at all.

 These two beauties were posing demurely for a photographer...but noticed me trying to capture a shot and sent me a peace sign. This made my whole weekend.

 Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion and its surrounding gardens 
The creator of this tiny temple intended to coat it in silver but never quite got around to it.
I'm comforted by the knowledge that procrastination was already a problem in the 1600s.

Just in case the previous collage led you to believe the temple tour was peaceful...never fear.
 We were joined by 40,000 hyper school children.

This is Boz searching for a light snack to hold him over on the 20 minute walk to lunch.
He opted for a gigantic cream-stuffed doughnut.

We all had very traditional nabe selections for lunch. Nabe is the general term for a variety of meat or veggie hot pot dishes. They are all one-pot meals, cooked over a flame (the flame is inside the square white pot) and they usually contain 5-10 ingredients.

I struggled with nabe when we first arrived in Japan but now I devour it. Granted, my  pot on this particular afternoon was comprised of a relatively unadventurous mix of tofu steaks and mushrooms (on the right)...but it's still progress. Tofu steaks are very (very) soft so I consider them an experiment in texture. These things are spooky soft. You don't even really 'eat' them. You just get them close to your mouth and they disintegrate. They're really just a conduit for the mind-blowing deliciousness that is the sauce drizzled all over the plate. By the end of this year, I am going to be 10% water, 50% tofu steak sauce. Boz opted for the assorted meat platter (left) because he thinks he's a lion.

Peace out, homies.

Update:  Boz saw this post and immediately demanded I point out that he shared the doughnut with Soup.  And then, laughing heartily, he reminded me that he and Soup also split a "Potatornado" on that same brief walk.  I do recall this, but in the feeding frenzy, I didn't get any pictures that I liked.  So here, for the uninitiated, is a stock photo of a Potatornado.  Judging by the results of my Google search, apparently the Potatornado is not confined to the areas around temples in ancient Japanese cities.  It seems to be 'a thing.'  Boz says it is worthy of being 'a thing.'"