This was my first trip to Japan where I actually got to leave Tokyo. I took the bullet train to Kyoto and stayed in a traditional old-style hotel called a ryokan. It was pouring rain but I took a walk to the Gion district. The hotel included a great 8-course meal served in the room and a big multi-course breakfast. Someone told me the hotels are run by these older women who worked as Geisha. You could tell, they were funny and pretty.
“The next day, I went to the Golden Temple where there were big groups of people, all with selfie sticks.”
That afternoon, I took a one-hour train to Nara, a town near the mountains that supposedly has deer walking the streets. They are sacred and so no one messes with them. I got there and walked and walked from temple to temple through blocks of buildings and houses. And no deer. Finally, I thought to trek to this place on the map that was like a deep park but soon came to my senses, thinking, “I can see a deer on a patch of grass upstate anywhere.” So I went to the Nara hotel for a glass of wine instead. This place was like the hotel in “The Shining”—crazy-big and old. The walls were lined with pictures of visiting dignitaries. I waited til the restaurant opened. Six guys standing at the door in tuxedos asked me if I had a reservation. The room had no one in there and could seat 1000. I really love when they do that at restaurants. Then they say, “Oh, I think we can fit you.” Anyway, the food was good but cost a lot. The atmosphere was tranquil, I felt like it was 1940.
I cabbed it back for a train to Kyoto. I wanted to go out and shoot that night but crashed so hard. I woke up at 5:30 am and walked the streets as the sun came up. It was cold and beautiful. So that was that.
In the train station on the way back to Tokyo and then to the airport I jumped into one of those ramen houses and just like a commuting local, I ordered myself some ramen out of the vending machine and had a standing-up last meal.
“Epic trip, I could live there…”