Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some pictures from Kyoto

One of the malls attached to Kyoto JR Station.

The grounds of Ryoan-ji (龍安寺), widely regarded as one of Japan's most beautiful temples.

The rock garden inside Ryoan-ji, made up of fifteen rocks and white gravel. This garden is considered to be a masterpiece. You can buy a booklet about it in Japanese that has over a page devoted to each rock.

Some pictures of Ninna-ji (仁和寺), which was at one time an imperial palace and is now the headquarters of one of the Buddhist sects.

Another temple complex called Myoshin-ji (妙心寺).

Here's a guy playing golf in park. It was pretty small park, so I'm not sure how he was really able to play.

A night scene in Yasakajinja (八坂神社).

The main gates of Yasakajinja.

Looking out from the gates onto the Kawaramachi area (河原町).

This creepy looking thing below, was actually pretty creepy.

I don't know what its called, but it's to help people put an end to bad relationships. You write about your relationship on a slip of paper from the lighted desk, paste it onto the blob, with all the other descriptions of bad relationships, and then craw through that dark hole.

I tried to read some of the slips. Most of them seemed to be about people, but there were also discussions of smokes, booze, gambling and such. I was then told that it was in bad form to be reading the slips.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Computer

I basically use my computer all day everyday so I seem to burn through them pretty quickly. Over the last few months my silver G4 Powerbook started to whine and eventually the CD drive died. Actually, it somehow simultaneously lost the ability to read CDs and to eject them at the same time. The only way to get the CDs out was with a credit card. Credit card insertion, however, seemed to have no effect on the machine's ability to read the disks.

For awhile I toyed with the idea of getting a Japanese Mac. I went down to the Apple Store a few times and tired them out. Everything was fine except one or two keys were in different places and I couldn't for the life of me find the open quote mark. (Maybe this explains why Japanese people so often enclose their quotes in English with two closing marks.) Eventually, however, I decided to special order a Mac with a US keyboard. This time, contrary to my usual practice, I didn't buy the top of the line model. My old Mac already did everything I needed and the current mid-range models blows it away.

It was a typical Japanese affair. They delivered the computer to the front door of my apartment a few days later and I handed them a huge wad of cash.

The transition between computers was painless. There's a special function for updating from your old Mac and I used this. It imported my home directory and all my applications, preferences, everything. In less than an hour I had my work environment exactly as I wanted it and everything now worked twice as fast and looked a bit better. This was the fastest computer upgrade of my life.

Below is new style of vending machines that are popping up at some of the bigger stations. The label in blue reads "Natural Disaster Response Style Vending Machine" (saigai-taiougata-jidouhanbaiki, 災害対応型自動販売機). The red line above this informs you that in the event of a natural disaster the contents will be free. It does so in a sort of cryptic style of Kanji abbreviation which is perfectly intelligible when you look at it, but if you just said it to someone they would have no idea what you meant.