[The Shikoku Pilgrimage – Break] Day 10: Retail Therapy


It was another lazy morning. I had nothing planned for the day, so I took my time getting up and out of bed and was easily the last person in my dorm room to get going. Granted, I’m probably the only person in the room who has been to Kyoto multiple times.

While I had use of the hostel’s wifi, I decided to check up on my finances to make sure I had enough money in my bank account to get through the next few weeks. I checked on my credit card balance, as well. To my happy surprise, I accidentally overpaid my last balance owed, so was in a negative balance. In other words, I actually had money to spend!

I had avoided buying things because of the additional weight it would add to my backpack. However, before leaving Kyoto, I could always mail the things back home. It might be a bit pricy but I would try to keep my purchases small and light. Besides, shopping would give me something to do and my hostel was right next to the Teramachi Shopping Arcade and Shijo Street, which also has a lot of shops.

So, I headed out late in the morning and stopped at a cafe for breakfast, as most of the stores in the arcade were only just opening for the day. A man from Holland started to chat with me a bit in line, and just before he left, he approached me and asked me for suggestions for what to see in the Kyoto. I was happy to help. In fact, I feel like that, just because I am not walking the pilgrimage at this time, I am still a pilgrim in spirit and should continue to offer kindness and assistance wherever I go. The least I could do is offer what knowledge and experience I have of the city.

After breakfast, I wandered around some more. I picked up some kimono accessories that are difficult to find even online, such as netsuke (the little charms you can hang from your obi) and obidome (the brooch that you attach to the obijime, the decorative cord around the obi). I even stopped at one traditional shop and bought an expensive hair stick featuring a stylized plover (I love them, they’re so cute) made of silver and with dangling beads of pearls and coral. I was hesitant to buy it, but I loved it so much that I felt I had to.

When I was starting to feel tired, I headed back to the hostel, picking up a quick lunch from the nearby 7-11 on my way. I took my lunch up to the common room to eat as well as to get some laundry done. A 19-year-old American guy named Andy was already there. We struck up a conversation about many different topics. He said he had been out late last night and was taking today to rest. I asked him if he had been to the Higashiyama Hanatouro yet, and he had no idea what it was, so I explained it to him. He asked if I wanted to go, too, and I said I would, even though I had already gone last night.

So, around 5pm, I returned to my room to put away my laundry and ensure I had enough money for the night. A woman (Margot) from France had just checked in and was settling in to her bed. I told her about the Hanatouro as well and asked if she wanted to join me and Andy, and she accepted the invitation.

So, we were headed out by about 5:30, a little later than I had wanted, so we set a quick pace towards Yasaka Shrine. We got there just in time for the maiko performance. Tonight, it was Tomitsuyu and Kanohiro from Gion Higashi dancing with geiko Miyako providing the music. Tomitsuyu did a solo performance of Harusame, then Kanohiro joined her for a duet performance of Gion Kouta.

After the performance, we headed back to the little streets and stopped at a little bar/cafe. We each ordered a beer and a sweet snack, with mine being red bean soup. Note to self: beer and red bean soup do not go well together. They are better off enjoyed individually. We chatted for a while about traveling and video games, then headed out once we were finished.

I decided to show Andy and Margot Kiyomizudera. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, they had the altar area all opened up for Hanatouro and it was the last day of the festival, so it was now or never. They both enjoyed it.

With that done, we walked the distance back to the hostel, picking up some snacks from a convenience store on the way. Fortunately, my knee, while sore going down the hill from Higashiyama, held up fairly well despite only taking one dose of ibuprofen in the morning. I will try to walk without the compression wraps tomorrow (as another traveler in the hostel suggested doing, so the leg muscles do not become accustomed to it) and see how things go.


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