June 8th 1998, a Monday

Bikes Suck! Again, the lack of sidewalks made pedestrian navigation difficult. What money we didn't spend on the bus was made up for in drinks. I am still amazed no one wiped out and went unconscious or got hit by a car.

During the morning hours, the weather was beautiful. We first cycled to the Kinkaku-Ji Temple, a pagoda entirely plated in gold. Someone in Matsumoto recommended this temple to me because, when Marco Polo first visited Japan, he observed this and assumed Japan must be a rich nation. Truly the temple was beautiful, and its well manicured gardens impressed me.

On the way to the Nijo Castle, Kyoto's Imperial Castle, we stopped at a Zen Buddhist Temple. Eh, it had a rock garden or two.

The castle, however, was very interesting. In the times when ninjas assassinated Emperors 365 years ago, this castle was built. The floorboards squeak, so anyone approaching could be heard, and dealt with. The castle, like the temple from earlier, was surrounded by steep walls, a moat, and beautiful gardens. Atop one vantage point, the roofs of the castle could be seen along with a backdrop of large commercial buildings and a mess of power lines. As Mr. C said, "In Japan, things aren't spread out like in Omaha. In your neighborhood, you might have a store, a shrine, and a cabaret all within a five minute walk."

The afternoon was filled with shopping. I have begun my gift shopping. I think I will have no problem finding everything I need.

For dinner we finally found a pizza place. Shakey's (not to be confused with ShakERS) Pizza was a welcome change to a week of pure Japanese food.

After dinner we checked out the Pachinko Parlor. Smokey and noisy, the greedy machines sucked down our money. Check that, my parent's money . Actually, I only blew 1,500, so I wasn't hurt too bad. I would much rather gamble with Blackjack, as I feel I have more control of when my money goes.

The bike ride home was long but easy. It had began to sprinkle a bit, encouraging us to push on before more rain fell.

Upon arriving back at our Hostel, Ofuro's were on everyone's agenda. After, I listened to a CD I bought (2,500) called Yu-Ra at the shopping place today. It has a kind of ambient style to it. Nice for my car (Oh! I miss my car!). Until tomorrow, Mr. Journal!