23 March 2009
...Yup! I Still Don't Like Whiskey
I finally was able to try out my new camera last Thursday, when a fellow co-worker and friend of Takeshi's, Kato-san, invited us to come to Kyoto with him. He evidently had been planning to visit some places there; Takeshi told me before we went, "Yeah, he wants to go see this museum, go to this ramen place in town, and maybe go see some plum trees." Cool. I was game. Kato-san is in his late 20s and is very soft-spoken but is laid-back. He is not as laid-back as Takeshi's other friend from work, Mayumi-san, who I think is very fun to be around - and Mayumi-san is already in his 30s. Takeshi told me that Kato-san actually knows some English but I never heard a complete sentence from him the whole day. Granted, I did not try to start up an English conversation, but I think that Kato-san is one among many, many Japanese who are studying English, or at least know some English, but are too shy to try it out on a native English-speaker.
We ended up going to an area sort of on the outskirts of the city of Kyoto, called Yamazaki. It was a beautiful day out and warm! I figured that it would be a great day for some photography. The museum we visited was called the "Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum of Art". It is located near to a JR train station. We drove to the location and parked in a small lot on the other side of the train tracks. You have to cross over the train tracks to the other side, to actually get to the museum, which is at the top of a STEEP hill, which starts right after you cross over the tracks. Life there in that part of Yamazaki seems to move slower, at an easier pace. Right next to the small train station there is an equally small convenience store called, "The Daily Yamazaki". There, we were far away from busy, cramped streets and traffic, and people walked along the streets and stopped to talk to other passersby. This is probably a regular occurrence, since most of these people who live in that small area probably know each other.
The museum was interesting and I was pleasantly surprised with labels for items on display in English and Japanese. So I was able to get that much out of it, at least. The museum was actually someone's home (the man long since dead) and was huge, with three floors and a large outdoor, manmade garden and granite pool. Huge koi swam around lazily, and every tree and flower had begun to blossom in the warm weather. Of course the Japanese HAD to put a cafe on the second floor of this guy's house! I thought it was a little cheap. Haha. But, these are the same people who put gift shops EVERYWHERE, so I wasn't surprised that they turned a part of someone's house into a place to sell more things to visitors.
Also, we ended up visiting and taking a tour at the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery which produces whiskey, which I hear is fairly popular in Japan (and perhaps to any other whiskey drinkers). I was pretty sure, going in, that I remember not liking whiskey the last time I tried it - and when we were given a sample drink at the end of the tour, I said, "Yup...I was right. I don't like whiskey at all." And oh my GOD could you call what they gave us, a sample! I was assuming we'd get a little ketchup cup-size sample (like what you get for condiments in a fast food place), but NO, it was a whole glass of it with ice!
I felt kind of bad, handing my glass back to them at the end (they asked everyone to return their glasses upfront), when it was still pretty much ALL there. But I was damned if I was going to choose to drink that much whiskey (even if I like the drink), at about 2-3 o'clock in the afternoon! Takeshi and Kato-san thought it was hilarious when they saw all of the old men drinking the whole glass that they got! Like it was soda or something. One elderly man even went back up to the front to ask the tour-ladies for a refill! Takeshi and Kato-san were snickering at this.
Weelll....even though I hate the taste of whiskey, I can still appreciate the fine process it takes to make it, and the beautiful shades of amber of the liquid itself.
So here are some of the photos I took during the day (with my new camera!):