Kyoto trip November 2020 , Covid-19

Or how does it feel to be (almost) the only foreigner in Kyoto.

Traveled to Kyoto last week without using the GoTo Campaign. Booked a cheap business hotel and Shinkansen and went by myself.

Although some areas in Kyoto had local tourists and school trips, some touristic spots were almost empty. I personally enjoyed it, but it demonstrated to me very clearly the financial pain that many restaurants, Hotels, Taxis and more are having these days.

But let’s describe it step by step … maybe too much information.

Shinkansen: The Shinkansen to Kyoto had more than 50% capacity on a weekday.
Kyoto Station: Was quite busy. Obviously less than last year, but more than I expected.
Lunch: Had lunch at Mimiu 美々卯 . Probably my 4th time there and it was packed and delicious as always. Most customers were older than me, which felt quite safe.

三十三間堂 (Sanjusangendo) and 清水寺 (KiyomizuDera) : Walked from Kyoto station. It is usually not a busy street, but felt less busy than usual, less taxis roaming around the streets. 三十三間堂 had some tourists, but definitely not busy. Had lots of time to spend in front of the statues and watch them carefully, maybe for the first time. 清水寺 had more tourists, but again it felt empty compared to previous years, with many shops empty and some even closed.

Kyoto 三十三間堂
Kyoto - 清水寺
Kyoto - 清水寺

Walked to 高台寺 (Koudaiji) and from there to Gion.

Kyoto 高台寺

On the second day, I decided to go to 金閣寺 (Kinkakuji). I usually try to avoid it, since I have been there several times, but wanted to use this occasion that it has few tourists to take photos. To my surprise it turned out that it is covered and cannot be photographed.

no 金閣寺

A walk to Ryoanji (龍安寺). While I was walking from the street to Ryoanji, I was very surprised to be the only person walking there. I asked the ticket counter if they are open as I do not see anyone. She told me it is a bit early and that there are a few people already inside. Spent there about 40 minutes, when I arrived there were about 5 people which increased to about 10, which allowed me time to relax, enjoy and take photos.



From there I walked to 妙心寺 (Myoshinji). I think it was my first time there, but did not spend a lot of time and went to 二条城 (niJouJou) . Again, quite empty with one school group that kept watching me as I was the only foreigner in sight. Could not find many restaurants around 二条城 so went to a Ramen shop which was rather empty.

京都 妙心寺 area
京都 妙心寺 area
二条城 garden

Obviously enjoyed my trip, enjoyed that fact that there were no foreign tourists, but I am certain that many companies, restaurants and services which grew significantly in the past few years are suffering a blow. Have to minimize their expenditures or even close. Certainly hope that Kyoto will return to be busy, but also hope I will be able to go and visit Kyoto without standing in line.

For more photos see my flickr account

The Dogeza 土下座

半沢直樹 TV series loves the DoGeZa. 

If previous series showed a vanquished enemy(?) forcing himself to do the dogeza while over-acting, this season introduced a new concept of a forced dogeza.

Story is not important, but Hanzawa was asked to do a dogeza to save the bank. He obviously refused, being the symbol of justice and not giving up to corruption.
And then we got one of the most ridiculous scenes I have seen on TV; His colleague (Superior) trying to force Hanzawa Naoki to do the Dogeza.

After 11 years in Japan , I still do not understand the importance or weight of the 土下座 (Dogeza). Someone lies, cheats but it is so difficult to do the Dogeza, to humiliate yourself in front of ours. To me and my culture there is no importance or meaning to that. I can do dogeza 100 times and still not feel humiliated or that I lost something doing it.

Or is it that a culture that uses “sorry” very often, requires something more symbolic of expressing “one is really sorry”.

I think I will do a dogeza now, just for fun

Leatherman Wave+ Sheath

Bought a Leatherman Wave+ for home and outdoor. Not certain if I bought the Wave+ to have an excuse for a leather craft project, or if I really needed it.

Bought the wave+ Bi-Color version, so decided that the case (Sheath) will also have two colors.

Result as below. Did not cut round edges, which gives it a bit of a rough look, but I like it.

Started with a paper design:

Paper Design, Wave+ sheath


Wave+ Sheath
Alternative to a stitching Pony

MD Note Leather cover

Copied the design from Midori Store Website , and created my own MD Note Cover.

Looks good. Although I improved significantly in design and implementation, I still make careless mistakes. Probably due to the fact I create Lather crafts for myself, and also because I get tired during the process.

Acoustic Guitar

Bought a Yamaha LL6 ARE Acoustic Guitar and I love it!

Started practicing again. Actually re-starting from first steps to make sure I reinforce my ability to read notes and play “correctly” .

It sounds great, the Elixir strings and the sounds it creates is wonderful. I sometimes feel it rings “too long”, but maybe because I previously got used to an inferior sound.

Beautiful thing :

Uniqlo Airism Mask

Today, June 19th, Uniqlo started selling the Airism Mask, a washable mask, that is supposed to be lighter and (hopefully) more convenient for the hot summer.

Not surprising, this resulted in long lines in all Uniqlo shops and overload on Uniqlo web store.

As I was driving by Uniqlo store around 12:00PM a big sign said “Sold Out”, but still there was a long line in front of the store. Only one hour after the store was open, it was already sold out.
Another thought, if it was sold out why so many people still waited in line? I do not get it.

Uniqlo also published on their website an apology and that they will work to produce more masks . The apology was published 13:30, which again shows the demand for this mask.

I am actually looking forward to try it, as my experience in the past few with standard masks was not good. It gets really sweaty and hot when it is 30 degrees. can’t imaging what it will be like in 35 degrees.

Getting closer to international business travel

Takara Bio announced they developed a method to perform 5000 PCR tests in less than 2 hours.

Now this will not completely open international travel, but I expect it to improve and I guess we will eventually see a PCR test area before check-in to a flight.

1. PCR test before check-in
2. Only Negative (obviously) results will be allowed to check-in
3. Another PCR test after arrival and before immigration? Or will they have a treaty which they will accept tests from another country?

It kind or reminds me security tests before boarding a flight, and in some cases, airlines, destinations more thorough tests and rules.

This will make travel slower, as need to spend at least 4-5 hours longer per flight, but will make travel possible.

Can’t wait to see it implemented, or maybe the vaccine will be available earlier.

Caffeine consumption

Trying to reduce my Coffee consumption.

Till recently I used to have 4 cups of coffee per day:
1) First one, in the morning before eating breakfast
2) Second, next to the office or customer meeting area. Working at a cafe and relaxing a bit after the train ride
3) After Lunch
4) Around 4PM, some Caffeine to keep me going

The cost of paying for 3 coffees per day + the beans I grind in the morning definitely exceed 1000 yen per day is quite high, and more important is the amount of Caffeine I consumed.

Although working from home, I realized that I kept the Caffeine drinking pattern even though I did not take a train, and did not need the “relax time”.
So I finally decided to reduce the amount from 4 to 2 per day. One in the morning and second in the afternoon (between 2PM to 4PM).

Planned to do it gradually, to reduce to 3, get used to it for a week and then reduce to 2, but realized that I could do it faster. So, within a week, I am already at 2 cups per day.

Will evaluate it for a while and will consider reducing it further. I do like the taste of coffee and enjoy drinking it, so assume that once we go back to working in the office, consumption may go up again.

Telework Drama

Asahi TV created a special episode of Housekeeper Mitazono which was created without the cast meeting with other. Most of the episode was taken and shown as a view of a computer screen with the plot is shown via video calls, video conferences and Audio.

It was really nicely done. At some places they had to stretch the plot (and technology) a bit, but overall a good episode and very good writing.

People and companies are discussing Holograms and remote presence for a while, but recent days and necessity show that it is possible to make TV shows with remote presence. It is possible to have comedian act in their living room with a reasonable result.

What we now need to do is to connect the Audience in a more interactive way and we can be ready for the next pandemic.

Garmin Vivosport broken belt

A Known Vivosport issue?  

Two years with the Vivosport and the belt is torn/broken. There is no way for me to fix or replace it, as there is no accessory available to buy.

Encouraged by a Japanese blog post claiming the product was replaced free of charge, I started the process.

First step: Garmin support Website reporting the issue, torn belt
Result: Email asking me to access support website and provide more information.

Second step: Support website access, provided Serial number (second time), where it was purchased (Amazon) and if I have warranty (no)
Result: Email asking me to ship the product to Garmin service center.
Explaining the service charge I am expected to pay – About USD$100
Asking me again to provide receipts, warranty and that if they do not exist, I may be charged

So, now I have to decide. Do I risk spending my time and money sending the package and hope for a replacement and then be charged for the service, or I just throw the device (in the nearest designated electronic device service day)

Photos of the torn belt:

Torn Vivosport Belt
Torn Vivosport Belt