Sunday was supposed to be a quick downtown errand-then get apartment things done type of day.  The agenda: get nails done, hit giant bookstore, sell old books, get mother birthday present; return home, do laundry and clean apartment.  It did not turn out that way.  Of course, nails were done.

My nailist was a super cute girl who was obsessed with Gossip Girl, so she was really excited when I said I was from NYC and wanted to know if it was really like the show.  I liked that we had a seemingly normal salon-style conversation, and not the usual bs I get asked when people discover that I am a foreigner.  I wish you could request nailists!

Neo-Mart is on the way to the giant bookstore between Gion-Shijo and Sanjo.  This store kinda sells everything and I’ve classified it the same way I do Loft: an オシャレ (oshare: trendy) lifestyle store.  None of what they have is essential and it’s mildly overpriced (though still affordable), but it’s trendy.  Some of it (like that lamp) is just weird.  What do you think the penguin thing is?  Turns out it’s a set of pots and pans that happen to form a penguin when you stack them.  These are the weird design quirks I’ll miss when I leave Japan.  NYC definitely has its share of design, but nobody out-weirds Japan.

All the way back in October, I stumbled upon a random flea market with Alyssa where I picked up a business card for a handmade jewelry store called ro-ji.  At the time, I had tentatively bookmarked a pair of earrings in my head for my mom’s birthday.  However, her birthday is April 8th and I was afraid if I bought them early that I’d lose/break/otherwise maim them.  Shocked I actually held onto the business card.  The business card had a map on it, but the store is hard to find.  Head down Ni-jo towards Higashiyama.  On your left you’ll see an AEON supermarket.  At the next small street, take a left and ro-ji is on your right.  There was a small sign on the street in front of the store and it is VERY small (think shed-sized).  If you hit the school, you’ve gone too far.  Also good to know is that the store is only open F, S, Su and M.  This was not stated on the business card, so it was lucky for me that I went on a weekend.  I coudn’t open this to take a pic since I asked her to wrap it, but these are the earrings I got, in gold.

Anyway, post jewelry store I was supposed to go sell the books when I realized…I had left the books at home.  Oops.  Now showcasing my absolute lack of knowledge of Kyoto, I decided to walk from Ni-jo to Demachiyanagi, where there was a good falafel place.  It was way past lunchtime and I figured since the sakura were blooming and the weather was nice that I could take it to go and eat by the river.  I had already walked from Gion-Shijo to Ni-jo, mind you.  Figuring that I must be up by the used bookstore (also a gross underestimate) I started walking north…..and kept walking….and kept walking….and finally hit the used bookstore much later.  At which point I realized that, no, this was not as close as originally thought.  And then thought, well, now Demachiyanagi must be kinda close (again, wrong).  About a half hour after this original ordeal began, finally I did arrive at Demachiyanagi station and got my glorious falafel (Falafel Garden Kyoto).  So basically I walked a little under 2 miles in total….but at least the scenery wasn’t bad.

There’s a little area up by Imadegawa St. where the river splits and there’s this peninsula/island thing that you can access via one of the bridges.  Being a gorgeous day, there were a ton of people hanami-ing and just generally hanging out.  While I was eating they were dj-ing untz untz music.  By the time I had finished eating, this band had taken the stage (can you call it that?).  They were cool, but a little new age-y for my taste.  I preferred the previous untz.

All in all, the day did not go as planned, but was very pleasant nonetheless, and made me think how different/enjoyable this year would have been had I lived in the city.  To be clear, I have not been completely miserable, nor do I regret coming here.  I accepted the big gamble that is the JET Program, knowing that I’d have zero control.  Kyo-town does have its finer points, but it’s this spontaneity and sense of randomness that I love about city life.