Ree - 'oh - can.
June 7, 1995 07:19
23:39 Ryokan Hiraiwa; Kyoto-Japan :: 3 JUN 95
Tonight I managed to scoop the last room in the Ryokan Hiraiwa.
The situation looked grim after about the fourth 'Solly, no room' coming
over the payphone. It was 20:00, it was raining, and I was wondering whether
Kyoto's Central Station had any benches that I might sleep on-Tokyo Station
A ryokan provides the gaijin traveler with a taste of traditional
Japanese life. (Gaijin translates as 'foreigner'. Interestingly enough,
if one looks up the Japanese word for 'alien being from Outerspace' in
their English-Japanese dictionary, gaijin appears there as well.) At the
Hiraiwa the front door is a slider with frosted glass, as most homes in
Kyoto. Shoes are removed inside the door; a pair of slippers awaits. These
take you as far as your room and are removed before crossing onto the
tatami (woven straw) floor. Inside are two folded-up futons accompanied
by comforters, pillows, a towel and yukata and obi, or robe and belt.
A tea service including a container filled with tea bags (Japanese green
tea), thermos of hot water, Japanese tea pot (the handle sticks out the
side) and two Japanese tea cups (no handles) on saucers. Next to the service
is a pair of hand towels and toothbrushes. All this is placed on a low
table against the wall, under which is a thin square cushion for sitting.
00:53 Babawaki-cho 7-2, Shugakuin; Kyoto, Kansai-Japan
:: 6 JUN 95
A rice-paper screen covers the window. If you open the window,
remember that the screen should remain open as well, in case of rain.
In the Hiraiwa my room has a television. 6 channels of Japanese-language
programming. In the evening, there are baseball games featuring teams
like the Dodgers, Giants , Swallows and Carp. The highlight reels love
to show every strike-out pitch thrown during the game. If you tire of
baseball there's usually some Hollywood film on, dubbed in Japanese. During
news hours you always see the face of Shoko Asahara, the AUM cult leader
who allegedly gassed Tokyo subways. Mostly, the Japanese seem to like
shows with talking heads. Pretty uninteresting if you can't understand
A chord dangles from the fluorescent light affixed to the 7 foot
ceiling. Pull it once and three fluorescent tubes flicker alight. Pulling
it again extinguishes one of the tubes. A third pull extinguishes all
the tubes but illuminates a tiny 'night light' nestled between the fluorescent
Upon entering the room strip off and put on the yukata and obi.
The left flap of the robe should wrap over the right. Only dead people
wear the right flap over the left.
My door swings open because the room is at the end of the hall.
Doors to the other rooms slide open and shut. Don't forget to put your
slippers back on upon exiting the room. Don't forget to take them off
again before entering the toilet or the bath/shower room. Don't forget
to step into the bath/shower slippers when entering those rooms.
The Japanese have a variation of the typical Asian squat toilet.
Imagine if the wall of a men's bathroom with a urinal attached fell over.
You'd have a urinal on the floor. That thought crosses my mind every time
I enter a Japanese bathroom. Japanese toilet rooms have no shower heads
or water hoses; they stock toilet paper. A small basin sits on top of
the toilet reservoir. While water rushes into the reservoir after flushing,
some is diverted to a small tap that empties into the basin so you can
wash your hands. In turn the basin empties into the reservoir. Typically
The bathroom of a ryokan contains the same elements as the wellness
center, except no bubbling jacuzzi. Wash before entering the bathtub;
don't bring any soap into the tub; don't pull the plug- somebody will
use the same water after you leave. When you leave, don't forget to take
off the usually garishly coloured bathroom slippers and slip into regular
Back in the room-you did remember to take your slippers back
off?-unroll your futon, spread out your nice thick comforter, and climb
into bed. Sweet dreams.
Patrick. -- Responses Sought --
The lowly and insignificant Saicho, among the most foolish,
ignorant and deluded of men, vows never to turn his back on the Buddhas,
or his parents. Despite my limitations, I have made the resolutions below.
Free of attachment to worldly things, willing to lose all means, and intent
on achieving the supreme principles, I will be unbending in my resolve.
Thus I vow not to savor the taste of liberation alone nor realize
the fruit of nirvana all by myself. All beings in the Dharma world must
rise to wonderful awakening and experience the subtle flavor of Dharma
- Until I obtain sufficient awakening, I will not leave
the mountain or work in the world.
- Until I illuminate the ultimate principle, I will not
indulge in worldly pleasures.
- Until I grasp the essence of the pure precepts, I will
not attend state ceremonies or religious feasts.
- Until I attain the heart of transcendental wisdom, I will
avoid all entanglements.
- Whatever virtue and wisdom I may accrue through my training
will not be for my own sake but for the benefit and supreme liberation
of all beings throughout the universe.
||Saicho, 8th century founder of Tendai Buddhism
His resolution of seclusion on Mount Hiei, in Kyoto