Kyoto: Bola Bola & Yakiniku

At the insistence of Yuunsama, I have finally started the monstrous ball of posts about my summer graduation Japan trip rolling.

Okay so on 10th July, I left for Japan on my grad trip with Senpai, and wound up taking more than a thousand photos with the dSLR and iPhone. So if you see noisy, markedly low-resolution photos, it’s from the phone because (a) I was too lazy to whip up the camera, (b) I was trying to take ninja sneak!shots, (c) my 16gig SD card ran out. Option (c) broke my heart, by the way.

Anyways, I’d been having a headache trying to organise the mess of photos from the trip, and decided to separate them by geography. Because we visited certain places twice, and I’ve thus lumped them together by place, this report does not, at times, necessarily confer to the rules of 4D, if you get what I mean.

If not, forge on nonetheless! Each post is about 40+ images long, so let that bandwidth run wild, babehhhh.

Tintin and Mum were bored/loving/insane/kaypoh enough to send me off at 4 in the morning. Even the kopi stall wasn’t even open for business, and I’d so wanted my fix of breakfast teh-o (Hokkien for tea black)… Alas, only the western stall was open and we had to make do with overly sweetened drinks.

And then it was 7 torturous hours of fidgeting in my seat as we soared through the morning sky, followed by hours more of train-traveling. I swear I developed hemorrhoids.

The Choo Choo Trains

This was the second shinkansen we took. The first was from Narita to Shinagawa. That’s train conductor-san in the background about to check our tickets.

Senpai taught me how to use this nifty luggage lock located in the front of each carriage. That’s my luggage with the black and red strap around the stomach. When I say mine, I actually mean borrowed from Uncle MC :P

Anyway, the locks are pretty easy to use- just (1) take the head of the cord out of the hanger behind the steel door, (2) wind it through an important anatomy of your luggage (e.g. the handle), (3) replace the head of the cord behind the door, (4) roll a 4-digit password, (5) turn the knob from ‘open’ to ‘lock’. Retrieving your luggage should be fairly simple.

What I saw outside the window:

A freaking ferris wheel!!!!!!!! For one moment my brain got too addled by this discovery and I thought we were in Odaiba… o_O

Nothing screams Train Shots like the ubiquitous pole in the foreground.

And then we zoomed past this lovely place.

After the Shinkansen rides, we proceeded to board the subways. You know, I wasn’t joking about the hemorrhoids:

The doors in between each carriage was so heavy sometimes just pulling it open with both hands weren’t enough- I had to lean my whole body just to open it. A testament to how atrophied my arm muscles have become, I suppose…

Obligatory window-reflection shot.


Finally, at night, we reached our destination. We stayed at Bola-Bola for the four days that we were in Kyoto. It was pretty hard finding the place, it being tucked so neatly away, but it’s very worth it. The ambience, decoration, they even have a quiet little dog! I think Hara-san, his wife and very young daughter transformed their house into a hostel, and they stay in one of the rooms on the first floor.

Hara-san can be found sitting on the bench outside smoking at night.

No one really mans the reception desk at the entrance, but there is a single hairdryer there that you can borrow, and informational maps around Kyoto.

Our room was on the second floor. The thing about the second floor is that the steps are treacherous- narrow and steep. And it creaks a lot. The first night I had insomnia (probably the result of stress from being unused to the toilets) and the steps made so much noise I was half afraid that people would wake up from my night-walking. I eventually managed to sleep at 4am Japan time… :(

A lot of hangers are provided, so there’s no need to bring any. Also, helloooo tatami! Too bad the futon was quite thin, but the room is pretty spacious, as far as experiences go.  :D

I love the decor.

The room has a sliding door. This is the view from inside the room out past the noren.

And this is the kitchen. THEIR KITCHEN IS AMAZING:

Sinks are below, not captured in this photo. That’s the dish-washing liquid and soap on the bottom right.

Right outside the kitchen was one of the two bathrooms.

This is their dog! I made it a point to go outside every night to pet it to death, and it was a curious, quiet little creature. It was a pity that it rained every morning, so I only managed to take its photo when it was huddled inside its kennel. Once I asked Hara-san (who was smoking outside) what its name was, and he said “Uzumasa.”. It took a few days for me to realise that Uzumasa was also the name of the train station that was closest to Bola-Bola…. OTL

Synapses fail. Small-talk fail, at that, because I sorta ignored him after that in favour of molesting Uzumasa XDD

Tanaka is their neighbour. I was very amused XDD

And a quasi-artistic shot of someone’s bicycle.

On the first night, Senpai and I had yakiniku for dinner. Senpai hadn’t had yakiniku before, so she persuaded me to part with my money when we stumbled onto a nearby shop.

I grudgingly admit that it was money well-spent:

Oolong tea is on the house.

Okay I’m not very sure but according to Senpai, whose Japanese level far exceeds mine and who was the one conversing with the staff and ordering from the Japanese menu, this is wagyu beef. Wagyu beef is yummy. Juicy, succulent, mouth-watering delight.

I tried to grill the cabbage XDD

Before the trip, I had sent out a plea online for recommended places to enjoy yakiniku, among other places of interest. Sakura-san recommended ホルモン (hormone, but not of the chemical variety), so naturally we were curious. Hormone actually stands for internal organs. Why it is named Hormone eludes me, but we had actually thought it would consist of guts and stuff. It turns out that it did, but it also included cow’s ear and cow’s tongue, and various other things that were foreign to us:

More unidentifiable hormones.

That black villi-thing is the cow’s ear, if I’m not mistaken. Well, after this we steadfastly avoided all hormones XDD

This is the decoration at the entrance of the shop. The staff were so kind to us, and especially so when they realised that we were tourists. They would occasionally stop by and inquire about how we felt about the food, and after that the lady even pressed more than a handful of a variety of sweets onto us when we left XDD She even went and made sure that each sweet was different!

A pity I didn’t take a photo of the entrance. But the outside has a pretty large tanuki statue standing outside, and the doorway is a little further in from the road, if it helps.

Next post, we go up close and personal with deer!


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