Alone in Kyoto

Some people might call me a movie buff, but today was one of those days when I deserve that. I have walked alone in the streets of Kyoto, visiting temples and shrines at a leisurely pace, just like Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost In Translation. I even listened to the song “Alone in Kyoto” by Air on my iPod, featured on the movie soundtrack as the backdrop while she walks around.

It is a strange sensation to stroll in a Japanese town as a six foot four gaijin, a foreigner excluded from the language and everyday rituals that everyone within sight silently obeys. I love it.

To further increase my movie epitaph, I must admit that one of the temples visited was the Nijo-jo castle, built in 1603 as the residence of the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu. For all of us who remember the Shogun tv-series and the old ninja movies with Sonny Chiba, this is holy ground.

Nijo-jo castle Exterior of Nijo-jo castle.

The palace looks like a fortress with a moat surrounding the huge stone walls. To protect the compound from assassins, all hallways are equipped with “nightingale floors”, making a high-pitched sound when anyone steps on it. I tried my best to sneak across the building, but the floor revealed me each time. I suppose I would make a lousy ninja.

Update: A few days later in Tokyo we “happened” to visit the Lost In Translation bar at 52nd floor of Park Hyatt, as well as the same karaoke place featured in the film (Karaoke Kan in Shibuya). Guess we’re addicted.

3 comments

  • avatar
    Kristian
    13 Oct, 2008

    Aaargh! You make me green with envy…

  • avatar
    Johan
    13 Oct, 2008

    First of all, congratulations on reaching Japan!
    I found Japan to be a pleasantly strange experience as well. I was there before Lost in Translation was out, but I later loved the movie for capturing the mood of my visit.
    Love to see some photos when you come back…

  • avatar
    16 Oct, 2008

    Thanks! Photos coming up later.
    Today I will bash my head against the Tokyo subway net. I guess the word “wakarimasen” will be handy when asking the locals for directions. :)

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