When writing this, I was sitting in the window of a cafe in downtown Kyoto, listening to the rain pouring down on the awning above me, seeing people, some wearing kimonos, some western clothing, walk by with their umbrellas. It was very peaceful and much needed after my switching hotels a little while ago and walking a mile carrying the behemoth in the rain…
I’ve checked into a capsule hotel, essentially a hostel with a Japanese twist. Each bed is a little cubbyhole – you go in, feet facing the curtained door. I am actually looking forward to cozying up in there – it’s been a great visit to Japan so far, but I’ve woken up at 6 or 7 every day regardless of when I’ve gone to bed or how much walking I’ve done. My feet hurt! This cafe was just what I was looking for – in the area around the train station, all I could find was Starbucks.
In fact, I’ve had a pretty low-key day. I managed to get my talkatone app to accept an incoming call from the US to my Google Voice number for free, so that was good. And I went downtown to experience a tea ceremony. The place I went seems to be five or six floors dedicated to tea: a shop on the ground floor, banquet rooms on a couple of floors, and a little tea room set up on another floor to show visitors the proper ceremony.
First you wash with a dipper of water, both hands an mouth, before entering the tea house through a tiny door essentially from a crouched position outside onto that posture where you are sitting on your calves, kneeling in a very Japanese way. (Luckily my tea house hostess told me I could sit cross-legged for most of the ceremony. The proper kneeling posture is really tough to maintain! I wonder whether the Japanese just get used to it from repetition?)
The hostess then brought out a sweet called a cherry blossom (Sakkara). After a few more steps in the ceremony, I got to eat the sweet, then watch as my hostess made matcha. After I’d had a chance to drink it, I got to make it myself.
Overall, I’m really glad I got to experience a tea ceremony before leaving Kyoto. It was on my must-do list, and it made more sense to do so in Kyoto than in Tokyo. And for you science nerds out there, I geeked out when I saw a sign for the enzyme company Takara on my way back to the hotel.