Tim and I enjoyed two amazing days in Kyoto last weekend for many reasons that you might easily imagine:
a) The sight of Mount Fuji in its winter kimono from the Shinkansen
b) The ancient temples and shrines in the snow
c) The delicious noodles and tofu (Kyoto is known for its creative use of soy beans)
d) The shocking lack of children whining (ours, in particular)
You can't walk 60 seconds in this town without encountering a sacred space...Kyoto has 17 World Heritage sites, 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines as well as several castles and major gardens. It's truly the Rome of the Far East.
These visual delights are indeed mesmerizing in their own right, but holding equal rank are the more profane and less well-known pleasures of Japanese culture, namely Japanese Pop (J-Pop) names and hotel porn titles.
On the way back down from Kiyomizudera, a profound temple nestled in the hills surrounding the ancient capital, snakes a narrow street of souvenir shops and eateries. I was admiring the local pottery when I spied a bumper sticker of my favorite J-Pop band, BUMP OF CHICKEN, in a tiny music shop. Granted, I've never listened to their music, but how can you not be a fan of that name?
I must have picked up some good luck in the temple, because they also had one copy left of HIDE (pronounced heeday),currently touring with...SPREAD BEAVER.
Hide AND Spread Beaver on one stage? Wow. The awesomeness cannot be contained in two hands. It just can't.
I silently wondered all weekend if PETA continually picketed their concerts. When we got home, Claire questioned what Spread Beaver actually meant: Was it something you smeared on crackers or something more...well...? This, of course, brings me to the topic of porn movies in Japanese hotels.
Since we are not into the club/karaoke/"hostess" bar scene that dominates the local night-life, we opted to get some dessert after dinner and head back early to the hotel. We could have gone to the pool...but that cost $21 per person. (I am thinking of writing a small note to the hotel CEO that simply says, "REALLY?! Sincere regards, Nancy B." (I would frame the response.)
Unfortunately, the in-house movies cost the same as the pool. The NEW releases were Harry Potter and Spider Man 3. The free channels consisted of CNN and endless montages of "relaxing" underwater vistas. Okay, on to the Adult Fare...at least that might be worth 21 bucks because I was pretty sure we hadn't seen them yet.
Here were our choices, verbatim:
The Undergarment of Sister-in-Law
The Beautiful Hip of Neighbor
And my personal favorite, Super Mattress Games. (I think this might be a Nintendo game, too. Although a release date currently doesn't exist, I can't wait for Super Mattress X-Games for the Wii.) In the end, paralyzed with indecision, we ended up just watching Stripes on the computer until the battery died.
Lame, I know. Perhaps, if we could have found out if SPREAD BEAVER were on one of the soundtracks, our choice would have been easy. Perhaps.