An obligatory twerk.

Our last day in Kyoto we had really good weather, but we were kind of exhausted so we decided to have a pretty easy day. After eating breakfast at a cafe in Kyoto station, we spent the morning and early afternoon outside of the city. We traveled via the JR Sagano Line to the Arayashima area, further northwest than we were the day before. There are several shrines to see, but the highlight is walking to and from them all under cover of a bamboo forest.

bamboo forest

Two of the places we went really stood out. The first, Tenryū-ji, featured a Buddhist Zen garden with the most tranquil of tranquil ponds.

so tranquil at Tenryū-ji

The second, Jojakukō-ji, offered incredible views of Kyoto city from mid-mountain. This was probably my favorite because the whole site was built by some monk who basically just wanted to go off the grid, moved to the mountain, and lived there till he died.

steps up to Jojakukō-ji
view from Jojakukō-ji

  1. Tenryū-ji
  2. Jojakukō-ji

We came down off the mountains and stumbled into a pottery shop with a dog sleeping on the floor. The guy made all his own stuff in the shop, and looked cool, so we bought a few pieces. We also purchased an ice cream cone from the shop next store….sans balls.

pottery guy place

We took a train halfway back to Kyoto station, hoped on a bus to downtown and found a spectacular noodle bowl place/chain called Ippudo. I had a standard pork Udon noodle bowl, while Erin got one with “8 spices.” Both were excellent and hit the proverbial spot…the pickled bean sprout and ginger that accompanied the meal were welcome also. Oh and Gyoza is the bomb diggity…we got a side order of these little fried dumpling guys and mowed through them in about 10 seconds. Gyoza, so hot right now. Gyoza.

Dinner spot…Ippudo

We ducked into a coffee shop (okay it was a Starbucks, we wanted free internet) to digest our food for a while. We both agreed that we weren’t really hungry for anything else and that an early turn in would be a good idea since the next day we would be getting up early and traveling.

On the way back to the hotel I had an impromptu discussion with (mostly) myself about the origins and the sonic quality of the word obligatory. I mean it’s just such a weird sounding word. This is type of thing that is going through my brain here, listening to all of the strange (to me) sounds coming from people’s mouths. There is nothing more or less weird about the word “obligatory” and Japanese words, but the meaning that my brain associates with one (and not the other) somehow makes sense of it all. Try to say the word (or any word for that manner) while trying to, at the same time, consciously avoid its meaning popping up immediately in your head. It’s hard because the interface is so well known. If you can manage to do it, it can be off putting just how weird language sounds in general without having the concrete concepts behind it. This got me to thinking about how new words are conjured up, and the process for them entering common language. Japanese is a perfect example for this as the writing system has 3 different sets of characters to accommodate foreign words which they freely adopt (plus the Romanji to make words easier to identify for Westerners). I wonder when obligatory first became a word, was it slang first? Was there a big uproar among language fundamentalists? Was its original meaning different than todays usage? I’m sure I could look these things up…

Whatever, maybe one day we will all twerk and not think twice about it.

Edited 3/18/2017 for spelling, “grammar”, image rendering, and Google Maps API v2.

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