Since my classes are mostly in the late afternoon, I’ve been able to go exploring in the mornings on school days. Monday I visited a HUGE antique goods, etc. market on the 21th of the month in Kyoto called Kobo-san, which is held on the grounds of Tō-ji (東寺). Tō-ji is famous for this market and its iconic pagoda, which is the tallest wooden tower in Japan. Kobo-san is one of two monthly markets at the end of the month in Kyoto, and the other one is on the 25th of the month at a shrine in another part of the city. I’ll visit this one in November.
October/November is the peak of the tourist season in Kyoto (or at least so I am told), so trying to escape the shadow of the dreaded hakujin (白人) – a tongue-in-cheek phrase I use to describe the European tourists who don’t speak a lick of Japanese (lit. “white people”) – is nigh impossible. I had thought that since Tō-ji is kinda far south in the city and not near the fashionable hotels that tourists usually go for that I would be safe. Nope. These British people brought a ridiculous amount of film equipment to this crowded market in an attempt to make a ‘documentary’ out of their personal vacation to Kyoto [from what I overheard of their conversation they weren’t BBC staff or anything actually legit]. I ran into these people, still toting around their large tripods, again the next day at a really big festival in a completely other part of the city. Seriously, they were talking about getting the angles/filter right instead of enjoying the actual event they probably paid an arm and a leg to fly over to Japan to see. Oh well, it wasn’t all bad – I was able to find a brand new Taisho goto (大将琴), an early twentieth century incarnation of the ancient Japanese koto, and case for only 2000 JPY (~$20)!