Friday, December 05, 2008

Autumn in Kyoto: Part II

Three weeks ago.

Three hours ago.

It is strange to be on the cusp of fall with Christmas just around the corner. The timing is all wrong. Snow, not leaves, should be falling from the sky.

It is beautiful, though. Tourists from every corner of Japan have come to Kyoto just to see the changing leaves. They really are that spectacular (the leaves, not the tourists).

Leaf viewing can be a bit of a gong show. You have to share the experience (and the trains and the shops and the restaurants) with hundreds of thousands of Japanese tourists madly snapping pictures of absolutely everything. It takes away from the natural beauty and the quiet serenity of the parks and gardens. But, at the same time, it's nice to share an appreciation for the simple beauty of a fiery red maple leaf with other people.

I wonder how my pictures would turn out if I bought a fancy digital SLR camera instead of using this cheap, little point-and-shoot camera. Japan would be a good place to invest in a real camera and learn how to take pictures properly. I certainly wouldn't be out of place walking around with a huge camera strapped around my neck in these parts.

Speaking of people walking around with huge cameras strapped around their necks, my friend Kathleen and I were approached by an old timer who wanted to know where we were from (I've said it before and I'll say it again, the old guys love me out here. I swear, if you are single and in your 70s, Japan is the place to be). He seemed really happy and excited to talk to us. He even gave us copies of photos he had taken (which we are holding in the picture below). I think he may have been drunk.

It was fun taking in the fall colours with Kathleen. And not just because it meant I got to spend the weekend with a girl I met on the internet (I love how dubious that sounds). Kathleen and I have been reading each others' blogs for years so when we finally met in person, it felt like we already knew each other. Or, as Kathleen put it, it felt like we were catching up rather than getting to know each other.

We also tested out Japan's famous "anti-hangover drink." I don't know what is in this drink exactly, but everyone swears up and down that if you drink it before you drink alcohol, you will not get a hangover.

We downed one little bottle each on Saturday night. I am happy to report that we woke up bright and early on Sunday morning hangover-free. However, I suspect this has less to do with the magical potion and more to do with the fact that we didn't drink very much alcohol.

That little anecdote really has nothing to do with fall. I just wanted to post the picture of us posing in the drugstore. I like the story behind the photo. We bought the anti-hangover drinks and decided to ask the pharmacist to take our picture. It seemed like a ridiculous thing to ask of a pharmacist. But she played it straight. She didn't bat an eye. She didn't crack a smile. She simply took our photo like she was filling a prescription. I wonder what she was really thinking.

Returning to the original spirit of this post, I leave you with one last picture of fall before all of the leaves turn to mush.

No comments: