Still more surprises from the 'far east', some good, some bad and some just surprising...

There’s a lot been said about vending machines in Japan…I’ve even seen vending machine fashion i.e. designers disguising people as vending machines. A lot has been said because there is a lot to be said for them. I’m in no way a vending machine connoisseur - I don’t buy the stuff at home - but then at home I’m just not faced with the same extent of choice. As well as machine staples like cold drinks you can also find hot drinks (in cans too?), ice creams, freeze dried noodles, whole meals and underwear - but no longer knickers that have been worn by ka-wa-ie (cute) Japanese school girls, just the straight off the production line personal hygiene stuff. And you don’t just find vending machines on station platforms, they’re every 100 metres of so along the pavement and around every corner when it gets closer to any tourist atraction - expect to find them convieniently located within the tori gated enclosures of shrines and temples.

And even if you know what you feel like you can easily be overwhelmed by choice. Fancy an simple ice tea you stay? Well there are seven possibilities just outside the gates of the Ryoanji Temple - that one with the famous zen rock garden - there aren’t anywhere near as many temples in Kyoto as vending machines but there are still thousands and they all have their own machines.

Mentioning that rock garden brings me to my second surprise for the day. Both rocks and moss are enough to make a garden… In my experience today the rock garden of Ryoanji was less interesting than the un-World Heritage listed moss garden of Ginkakuji. I’d like to make some kind of gathering moss comment but I can’t think of the right way to say it - and it would just be having fun with semantics: Read my reviews and have a look at the photos and you’ll see what I mean. Moss beats stone any day.

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  • Kat Mackintosh

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