Kyoto and the Infinite Intoxication – Part 2 of 2

Arriving back at Tarocafe at 6am after the epic night of drinking and drunken-pash-attempted-suicide, I stirred at 1pm feeling absolutely written off.

Greg and I decided that lunch was of the highest priority. We wound up (eventually) at Cafe Independents, an awesome underground cafe with a very alternative vibe. A photo that Greg took of me there is now the publicity shot for my Fringe Festival show.

There’s also a tiny boutique record store attached (kind of) to Cafe Independents. The fit-out is so tight that you can’t help but feel that you will knock things over if you’re not being careful. One quick turn to the left, and there goes a rack of CDs.

Lunch specials in Japan are never to be underestimated. Most of them cost less than 1,500Y and you’ll usually get a number of dishes and a drink for that price which is one heck of a bargain.

Greg and I then headed to the Mina shopping centre to meet Ayano. All I had heard about Ayano up to this point was that she could drink. A lot. More than Greg. Perhaps more than me. Potentially more than the two of us combined. We stopped at a small French-themed cafe with one of the most awesome toilets I’ve ever encountered. I know that must seem like an odd claim to make, but it was just a really ingenious use of space. LOOK.

Convinced yet? No? How many memorable toilets have you been in, then?

Part of my trip to Japan was going to the Tokyo Beer Festival. Something else you should know about Japan – many tickets to events can be purchased from convenience stores. For the Tokyo Beer Festival, you could purchase them from Lawson. Ayano, Greg and I made our way to a Lawson and were confronted with an computer system, ATM-style  for tickets to events.

21 pages worth of events.

We eventually found what it was we were looking for, but the machine only dispensed a ‘token’ for the ticket, which had to be purchased at the counter. At first, this didn’t seem so bad.

But then you had to actually sign the token to get the ticket. In Japanese.

Knowing little or no cursive Japanese made this particular challenging for me. Thankfully, Greg and Ayano came to my rescue, writing out my name in katakana. I then had to sign my name in katakana in front of the attendant. He complimented me on my penmanship in one of those “Congrats, white guy, for doing something a five-year-old can do!” moments.

To celebrate the occasion, we purchased some beers and headed to the riverside. Families, groups of young adults and buskers lined the riverside. There was also a particular bird standing right in the middle of the river as if to say, “I don’t give two shits about the power of your stream, river. Bring it on.”

Greg had planned on taking me to a particular restaurant in Kyoto for dinner. Unfortunately it was closed on this particular night, so we made our way back to Shijo and went to a cheap (but decent) izakaya. More beers.

I had to reveal to Greg that our French friend Jean was actually going to be joining us for a night of drinking. Alas, my best laid plans to surprise Greg didn’t quite pan out, but he was happy to hear this all the same.

We said farewell to Ayano and met up with Jean.

I’m going to have to write mini reviews of the new bars we headed to, because instead of finding one or two bars, we wound up visiting six different bars.

Bar Tantei – this bar is a little ways outside of Kyoto, but well worth the visit. A spy/detective themed bar, lined with all sorts of film memorabilia and fake guns. The bartenders are dressed in suave vests and the stools at the bar are numbered 1-10 and resemble targets on a shooting range. By far the coolest feature of this bar, and unfortunately the one we didn’t get to experience, is that a particular book in the bookcase can be triggered to access a secret cinema room where they often show old spy or detective films.

Kazu Bar – as mentioned in the previous post, we headed back there to show Jean was all the fuss was about. It was relatively empty, and after Greg described the events that transpired the night before, I was labelled a ‘demon’ for bringing out the suicidal tendencies of the woman the night before.

Ishimaru Shoten – again, this bar has been mentioned many times in my writing.

Frontierres Sans National – a bar run by a really cool French guy, Phillipe. Also one of the only bars you can get a cheese platter from. On top of that, a really cool menu arrangement with Phillipe where you ask him for 1,000Y worth of food, and he’ll create a mixed plate for you.

Ghost – a bar that should get more business than it did when we were there. A massive space compared to other bars in Kyoto. The more live events this place can hold, the better. Room for bands, DJs and a pretty adaptable kind of space. Drinks were a little more expensive there, however.

Concrete Bar – when we arrived at Concrete Bar, there was a woman passed out on the actual bar and her male friends who just decided to sit there and let her rest. It’s interesting how this situation plays out in Japan. No-one bothers you to leave, they just sort of let it happen. We headed upstairs to their loft area. Concrete bar was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of its vibe and influence. For the most part, though, it was a reggae themed bar. Really cool, though. Jean passed out here for a while and Greg and I were discussing future plans and talking shit until Jean woke up and we decided to call it a night at 5am.

The next day, Greg and I headed to one of the many temples to pretend that I was a tourist for a moment or two. The temple we went to has 1,000 golden statues, which the legend surrounding them claims if you are to look closely enough at the faces of each warrior, you will find one that looks exactly like you. No such luck for me.

That draws my Kyoto experience to a close this time around. It’s such an amazing city, but also somewhat of an alcoholic’s dreamland. I’d be conflicted about ever trying to live there based on the amount of alcohol I’d end up consuming and whether I’d spend my days (and nights) in a drunken haze.

And here’s two pictures of interest in Kyoto.

Uhhhh… OK. What the eff about the nose is in any way luminous?

For the frog on-the-go that still wants to feel sexy. Even if this frog’s expression doesn’t necessarily match the sentiment.

Next time – Hattoji.

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