Japan 2012 (Kyoto and Osaka)

After two nights in Kyoto, I had to leave my hostel and find somewhere else to stay. I decided to head for the slums of Osaka to find one of the cheapest rooms in the country. But first I did a bit more sightseeing in Kyoto. I walked to the nearby Chion-in Temple. I noticed construction workers erecting a heavy duty steel structure on each side of one of the old wooden buildings. It looks like they are going to do some restoration work, but their temporary structure looks more permanent than the thing they are saving.

I was lucky to see all the famous cherry blossoms in full bloom while I was in Kyoto. There are only a few days of the year when it is possible to see the peak time. I also had a chance to see one of the biggest bells in the world. The Chion-in Temple Bell weighs 74 tons, cast in 1633 and I had to wonder how they moved it up the hill where it is located now.

I checked out of my eight person dormitory and got on a train to Osaka. A $4.85 ticket on the Hankyo Kyoto Limited Express gets me to Osaka in 47 minutes.  Then I had to change to a subway line four stops away for $2.85. I’m too used to Beijing’s flat rate of $0.32 to get anywhere on the subway system.

By the time I emerged, it was raining hard. Good thing I had been studying the area so I had some idea where to go. I found Hotel Kaga and got a private room for $20 which is really good for Japan. I saw some signs around for as low as $10 but I’m not sure they accept foreigners and not sure what you get for that price. The reason for all the low prices is because this is the area where most the homeless people stay and it is kind of depressing. A lot of disabled old men wander the streets and a lot of bars. I didn’t see anyone eating but I did see a lot of people drinking. The name of this area (Kamagasaki or Airin) doesn’t appear on maps because I think it has been such an embarrassment they changed the names. I saw some second hand clothes shops, a rare thing in a country where people prefer to be the first owner. I found a store that sold some old food for a discount, so I tried some of that. Most of the day was rain, so I took a break.