Sunday, June 17, 2012


After an amazing weekend and 2 wins, we flew back to our "hometown." Wiggins packed up and was off early the next morning, while my mom, my brother, and I were off to Kyoto. The company pays for our families to visit Japan for 5 days. Instead of going back a day early, we decided to explore and see one of the cities on our last day. Kyoto was where our opening games were held. I really liked the city and saw they had a lot of historical sites, but didn't have time to see anything. I thought it would be perfect for my family to experience the historical parts. Kyoto is one of the most historical cities in all of Japan. Little historical tid bit for y'all: Kyoto was actually ruled out by the U.S. as a possible city to drop the atomic bomb because of the immense historical meaning and landmarks. Learn something new every day!
Me and my brother in front of the Shinkansen aka
The Bullet Train. Soooooo fast
In case you haven't read any of my previous posts, I am what people would call "directionally challenged" aka I get lost wherever I go. I get lost in my hometown (been there for 23 years now). I have perfected the u-turn and the ever-so discreet parking lot turn around. So, it was only a little discerning that I was supposed to lead myself and my mom and brother to and around Kyoto. Getting to Nagoya - the nearest city - is fairly simple and I had been there before a couple times with our translator. Getting to Kyoto, however, required taking a train, then bullet train, then another train and the bus to get around the city. That's a lot of travelling. That's a lot of opportunity for me to get myself and my family so lost that finding our way back to our hometown in time for our flight the next morning would be improbable. I had planned out everything to do with travel about a week in advance - half because I was nervous about getting lost, half because I was bored with nothing to do since I had already packed the week before. I had everything mapped out and even had a cheat sheet with Japanese phrases. I had everything from "Where is _____?" to "I'm lost" and "Where's the nearest Starbucks?" (priorities people, I have to have my coffee). 
The next morning we were off. Navigating around to the Bullet Train (Shinkansen) was actually pretty effortless. The only problem was figuring out what city we were heading towards. They had trains to Tokyo and trains to Osaka, heading in different directions. I had to figure out which way Kyoto was and considering I still didn't know where I was in the country after 3 months, this was more difficult than originally predicted. After my minimal (bare minimum) Japanese somehow found us on the right platform, we were off on the train within a couple minutes. The train was SUPER nice. Huge chairs with reclining features and footrests. We thought it was too good to be true. Turns out it was. We were in the "reserved" section without knowing it. We got a slap on the wrist from the conductor who basically called us stupid Americans - those words never were spoken but we got the point. While walking to the "general" section, the seats got smaller and smaller; the people grew more abundant; and the fancy features of the recline and foot rests disappeared. Back to reality. A fast one. The bullet train is aptly named, for sure. It was fast. Ricky Bobby fast. If you don't get that reference, look it up, then slap yourself for never seeing that hilarious movie.

The view of Kiyomizudera. Picture doesn't do the view justice

We got in Kyoto without a problem, and even spotted a Starbucks right out of the station. We got our bus passes and we were off. We saw some gorgeous temples and parts of the city. We first went to Kiyomizudera Temple. It was HUGE. It was tucked away at the top of this mountain and had absolutely breathtaking views. It seemed as though we were in the middle of a forest, while in reality, the heart of the city was just about a mile away. The temple also had a waterfall that is said to make any drinkers' truest wish come true. Of course, we had to take a sip and try out our luck. Can't say I wished for anything softball related, though. I've already gotten everything I could possibly want out of this amazing sport. Everything I receive from here on out is just cherry on a sundae. And I love cherries so hopefully theres much more to come ;)

Drinking from the "magic" waterfall. My mom's face is pretty
priceless. The water tasted good to me....
From Kiyomizudera, there was a pathway that led down through the town. It was an olden street with shops all along the sides. In these streets, we bought some fans, some traditional food and candy, and a little blessing figurine. The road was super crowded with a bunch of tourists and school kids. I swear they never go to school. Everywhere I go, there's children wearing school uniforms roaming the streets. I thought they were in school from like 6am til midnight. Apparently not. 

From there, we headed over to the Golden Temple. It was clear across the city from where we were, so it took awhile, but we made it - after temporarily getting lost in the subway and trains. This temple was so gorgeous, and on a much smaller scale than the enormous one we had just came from. The Golden Temple was appropriately named since it was covered in gold leafs. Real gold leafs. Unfortunately, by that time it had turned kind of cloudy and a bit rainy. Nevertheless, the temple was amazing and we got some great pictures that don't even look real. Constantly while in Japan, I feel like I'm living in a postcard. Everything's so clean and perfect. It doesn't seem real at all. Definitely provides for some awesome pictures, though. 

The Golden Temple seriously did not seem real. So pretty!

On the way back from the Golden Temple is where we hit a bit of a snag. We had taken a few different subway trains up to the area, and tried to take the bus back. We were on this bus for a good hour before actually reaching our destination. For a solid 45 minutes I was panicking that we were on the wrong bus and would end up in Tokyo or something. Thankfully, we somehow ended up at our location - much later than anticipated, but we made it. 
Once we got to the train station, everything was easy from there on out. It was definitely a great day with my family and I am extremely blessed that they could come out and see how I've been living for the past 3 months. The next day, we headed back to Los Angeles and "normal" life. I was very ready to be back home and non-foreign life. I wanted American food and wanted a conversation that didn't involve a translator. I was also very excited to get back to my USA teammates and get to training for our World Cup and World Championship tournaments. Can't wait to reunite with them!! 

I'll keep up with the blogging throughout our USA season. Sorry, there will be no lost in translation stories (thankfully for me I'm staying in English speaking countries). 

...'til then
xoxo Jordan 

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