After some wonderful weather it is almost as though Japan senses our impending return to the UK, checks the calendar and notices that it’s a Bank Holiday Monday, and decides to help our transition with a day of rain and grey skies.
Thankfully we have been storing up some of the indoor attractions that Kyoto has to offer and do a pretty good job of avoiding the rain. That said the Japanese seem to be pretty well organised when it comes to rain.
For 500 Yen (about £2.50) you can buy an umbrella from a multitude of places. Made of clear plastic they are both easily recognisable and give a great sense of openness and visibility compared to the traditional British brolley. Better still when you enter various establishments across the city you are either offered a umbrella bag therefore negating the need to flap wildly outside a shop, or just a box that you drop your brolly into. Because they are all the same, it doesn’t matter which one you grab when you leave either. The whole system works really well.
So what do you do when you are in Kyoto and it rains? Before you answer that question you might want to remind yourself that we choose to visit a Mazda factory and an incinerator recently. Our first stop today was to pay homage to the Walt Disney of game design and we set out to visit the headquarters of Nintendo.
A longish underground ride brought us to a (being honest) disappointing industrial estate and a white building with a grey logo on it. Unperturbed we take some photos and drop off a letter thanking them for all their help in ensuring I didn’t graduate with a first degree but I did leave university with a pretty amazing lap time on Mario Mart.
After that we get a bit more orthodox and head to an official tourist attraction type place, or at least on the face of it, when we visit the International Manga Museum. Once inside it seems far less of a museum and more of a living library. Everywhere you look there are Japanese people reading the many Manga books, reading sat down on chairs, reading stood up, reading sat on stairs, reading everywhere.
It gives the place a lovely relaxed feel. There are some exhibits that explain the subtleties of manga vs anime, and the various media examples you can see that the influence manga has and had across the world, but honestly the best bit of the museum was seeing the range of people, from arguably the most technologically focused nation on the world, sitting and reading comic books (with the absence of smart phones) from the past 60 years on a wet Monday afternoon.