new bike, Friday's Kyoto trip

Another thing to check off on the experience list - being in an earthquake. A minor one, about a 5.3, centered about 100 miles away; no damage reported anywhere, but quite distinctly felt in my apartment.

Bought another bike yesterday. Yes, another bike. I got myself lulled into a false sense of security, left my bike unlocked Wednesday afternoon; Thursday it was gone. I first hoped it had just been moved, the folks at the grocery store sometimes move the bikes parked (illegally) out front to make room for deliveries, but it didn't turn up.

Apparently theft of bikes - and umbrellas - is not uncommon.

Anyway, found a little mom and pop bike shop in the shotengai. I actually had bought a lock there for the old one, which obviously i neglected to use...doubly funny, since (like the new one) the bike had come with a lock, a sort of spoke lock that I didn't recognize. Yes, my stolen bike had *two* unused locks on it.

(The spoke lock - -I'm sure it has a proper name that I don't know - is an interesting gizmo. It sits next to the front wheel, and has a cylinder that can slide and lock into place to interfere with the wheel rotating...not useful in the States, where someone would snap it right off or throw the whole thing into a van or truck, but ok here where the main danger is someone hopping right on and riding off.) At least I'm only out 5500 JPY on the stolen bike - about $44, annoying but not crippling.

Friday, went out to Kyoto, first to try to find Jizo-in. Since a) it's dedicated to my new favorite bodhisattva, Jizo, and b) described by my guidebook as not mobbed by tourists, it seemed like a good idea.

Trick is, it's on the outskirts, an area the doesn't have a detailed map in my book. I figured I'd check the map at the station when I arrived, but:

  • a) the map was in Japanese, no Eigo. Ok, I had the kanji for the place I wanted. But,
  • b) the temples on the station map were not labled, at least not that I could see. D'oh. And,
  • c) the scale of maps here always throws me off. I expect things to be farther apart, and so often overshoot.

So I got lost. Found a different, quite lovely, temple by mistake (I'll have to ask someone to read a photo of the sign for me, I have no idea.) Wandered around, asked for directions. attracted a small mob of nihonjin who tried to help, got lost again, found a map on the street but couldn't figure out where I was on it. Stopped a nice passing lady with little boy in tow who told me where I was. Tried to match guidebook map with posted map. Nice lady walked back to see if I was ok, gave me directions to Jizo-in. I made wrong turn, wandered some more. Ran into nice lady one more time, who walked me right up to the gate - when I left I discovered I had walked about 100 meters past the place about ten minutes after I got off the train.

D'oh.

Anyway, lovely place. Quiet, had it to myself, all alone in the bamboo grove, sitting zazen in the old abbot's quarters. Cool.

Got back to the train and headed up the line to Arashiyama and Tenryu-ji. A big, active temple complex, with a fantastic garden (and some notable Daruma images, and some birds nesting in the temple rafters.). A little bit mobbed; but about 30 minutes before closing, it cleared out, and I was able to sit and watch the pond ripple in the wind.

Very, very nice.

I didn't catch it this time, but nearby is a hut that belonged to a disciple of master haiku poet Bassho: indeed Bassho stayed there a few times. So a return visit is definitely in order.

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