huge rubythroat push - 2017-09-28
nutriberry frenzy - 2017-09-26
people are going to be called upon to choose where they stand, i feel it coming very soon - 2017-09-23
as the world ends, I collect all the hummingbirds to this yard... - 2017-09-20
this guy, though, you know how they are all red and flashy until you get the camera out and then they turn their jewels black so you can't photo them? - 2017-09-17
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kyoto trip report part 2
2005-06-05 - 11:20 a.m.
You are now reading Part two of my Kyoto trip report. To
start with Part one,
please click here. To check out the bird list,
please click here.
all photos © 2005 by Elaine Radford
the neurotically combed gravel of ginkakuji
Friday May 27
In the morning, I decided to take another, longer stroll down by the
river. I added Rufous Turtle Dove, Great Egret, Great Cormorant,
and Little Ringed Plover to the list of the usual suspects. I
was tickled to see that one of the Little Egret's feet was
much more orange than the others. Was he a particularly testosterone-charged
specimen or something?
Two juvenile Japanese Wagtails pinwheeled in front of me, squabbling briefly
like puppies before they separated to feed. In one area, I happened
upon dozens of Black Kites, some singing their eerie trill from
the rooftops and TV antennas, others circling around me in apparent
hope that I would feed them, still others feeding on fish or trash
on the opposite bank of the river.
why condo associations go mad part 32:
Since this is a budget trip, I decided to follow the advice offered
by various Lonely Planet posters and make a breakfast of the eight zillion
free samples of pickled vegetables put on display in the "Cube" and
the basement of the Isetan department store at the train station. I'm
sorry, but I don't care how many pickled mushrooms and cabbages you nibble,
you're not taking in any significant number of calories, and I had to resort
to eating as the locals do -- plunking down 250 yen for a green tea ice cream cone
from the nearest streetside shop.
thoughtfully adjusting the TV reception
I also stopped by the post office beside the train station to withdraw
some cash from the ATM. As I'd been warned, they only allow you take out
10,000 yen at a time -- a grand whopping $93! Fortunately, the machine
did allow for multiple transactions, but still.
The scariest moment of the trip came when I visited the ladies' room,
which is next to the police station. I heard a slamming sound that
was almost like a shot and then all kinds of slamming and yelling. I don't know for sure
what the heck was going on, but I'm going to suggest that if you were planning
on doing a little shoplifting while in Kyoto, maybe think again.
On the bus to Ginkakuji, I glanced out the window and saw a Crow chasing
an adult Grey Heron.
mosses are the star of the show at ginkakuji, even
the "lawn" is moss
Once at Ginkakuji, I walked through the grounds
twice to enjoy the zen garden, pond, and, of course, the "very important (like VIP)" mosses.
I then went behind the temple to climb Daimonji-yama. At the trail head, I met with
Japanese White-Eye, and a short way along the path I added the vociferous Brown-eared Bulbul.
I also heard plenty of what I would later identify as Blue-and-White Flycatcher, but this
excellent songster was in no mood to show himself in the thick greenery. I got all the
way to the top of the mountain, but it was steep going at times -- lots of steps! The view
of Kyoto at my feet was well worth the effort, though.
"give a hoot, don't pollute," ya'll...or maybe
it's "only you can prevent forest fires," i can't read forest service slogans
On the way down, I met some high school aged boys from Osaka who tried to figure out
where Louisiana was -- near California? Mexico? I said it was near Texas, and a light
went off, and one of them said, "Mississippi," and then they all said, "Mississippi,"
so I think they got it. Don't know if they meant the river or the state but either way, I figure
they had the general idea.
check out that stone in the middle of
the path, see it? ok, that is another hiker's hat, that is some steep
trail up and down that mountain, ya'll
Back near the beginning of the Path of Philosophy, I stopped in a noodle shop and had a wonderful
noodle soup with a delicious fish on top. I think it might have been a sardine. I'm not sure. It
was a little large to be a smelt. But it was just as tasty. The only sardines or smelts that
I've had that come close to beating it were the tiny fried baby sardines I had in Veracruz state in 1998.
Then I began to drift down the Path for real, almost immediately encountering a pair of
handsome Spot-Billed Ducks. I continued to wander, encountering random shrines and temples,
and even a beautiful shrine complete with fish hatchery with strings placed across the pond to protect the baby
goldfish. The last spot on the Path was Nanzen-ji, with its huge temple grounds, including an
atmospheric old aqueduct.
scenes from the path of philosophy*
I should have been exhausted but when I caught the bus at the end of the day, I rode
all the way back to the train station and descended into the huge underground mall,
Porta, in search of the 300 yen store. There I bought two kinds of socks -- short bootie-style
socks with penguins on them and sparkle socks with scenic Japanese carp and temples.
I know. Easily amused doesn't begin to describe it.
aqueduct at nanzenji
Saturday May 28
I woke up with a hunger for smaller birds, so I decided to check out Arishiyama, a suburb of
Kyoto with many temples, shrines, and forests. As I strolled through a picnic area, I looked
up and saw some old woodpecker boxes, and I may as well admit that the thought that passed through my mind was:
As if. No sooner had the doubt entered my mind, then a boisterous flock of titmice came
tumbling through the upper branches. I spotted my life Varied Tit as well as both adult and
juvenile Long-Tailed Tits. I'm pretty sure there were some other tit species in there too, but
you know how nothing happens and then suddenly everything happens at once? Because all of a sudden,
a bird flew up on the trunk in front of me, and I was eye-to-eye with my life Japanese Pygmy
Woodpecker. A short while later, it was joined by (I'll presume) its mate, based on how
closely they circled around the tree trunk together. I was charmed.
bamboo forest at arishiyama
A bit further down the path, I found the giant bamboo forest. I mean these bamboo trees were like
redwoods, ya'll. There was a spooky hush and dark where they grew the thickest.
Past a pond and along a field first of pink, then of golden, wildflowers, I drifted toward
a small neglected weedy lot where the Oriental Greenfinch was hanging out.
flowers of arishiyama area
Temples, shrines, wandering woodland paths, a town where I bought a Melon Cream Soda (it won't
replace Barq's Red Cream and was more of a green honeydew melon-type flavor), a temple here,
a statue there, a tortured red maple across the way. I heard the clatter of the wooden
sticks in a graveyard and felt a cold chill run down my spine. But perhaps the oddest
metaphysical experience came a short while later. I was photographing a manicured maple
and a statue of a goddess, then turned to approach a temple when the air felt hard, like
a force field or like glass-that-wasn't-quite-glass. I got a definite sensation that this temple
wanted me to approach no further. Then I looked to the side and noticed the most
un-Japanese sign ever: No photography. Ho-kay. I don't know what that
particular spirit or temple has against this classic Japanese hobby, but I respected its wishes, not
even stopping to photograph the "no photography" placard itself. After all, there were lots of
other subjects, up to and including enthusiastic Japanese schoolgirls, who were more than happy to fill
out my memory card.
perhaps nowhere was the enduring influence of japanese gardening on american
suburbia more explicit than on the grounds of tenryuji in arishiyama with its endless rolling
hills of carefully clipped azaleas
While on the subject of weirdness, yeah, this is the day that I actually saw a Japanese gardener combing
the moss. I swear.
don't know about you but i always go out
row-boating in my sunday best complete with coat and tie, even on a saturday
On a lonely trail I startled a huge banded snake that was longer than the path was wide since its tail
was on one side while its head was already sliding off the other -- so four feet long?
Six? After all, a motorized vehicle did actually drive down that path, but I noticed that the car
in question was well scraped and dented on the sides. Call it five feet maybe.
At some point in my wanderings I turned a deep, dark heavily forested corner and found myself
eye-to-eye with the shockingly contrasty yellow/orange and black Narcissus Flycatcher. Damned impressive.
In a sunnier location, I was serenaded by the Siberian Meadow Bunting, who then picked up caterpillars with
a couple of other specimens of this nifty species. At the top of a mountain peak, I sat and looked down on the
river and enjoyed the spinning of a Black Kite far below. It was a perfect day.
a temple garden in arishiyama, there were a lot of
them, ya'll, and i didn't catch all the names
Note: You have just read Part Two of my Kyoto trip report. Part Three is coming soon.
view of the river at arishiyama from a small
*don't bet the rent money on it or anything but this butterfly species might be Blue Triangle, Graphium sarpedon
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