Today started off a little late with a visit to the Internet cafe to send a few emails home and let everyone know when we’d be getting home. After that we headed to our favorite yakimeshi place up the road to enjoy lunch. The lady who runs the restaurant had finally come to recognize us and said that after we were finished eating we had a yakimeshi smile. With her cooking, you better believe I did!

Since all of us were down a few gifts we went to Kyoto for some last minute shopping after lunch. Tran had told us of a covered mall called Nishiki-Koji in the eastern part of Kyoto which sounded appealing since it was supposed to rain that day. We finally got the hang of Japanese subways and made it to our destination without thinking too much about it.

The first part of the shopping center was very interesting consisting mostly of seafood and other food stores with the odd clothing store thrown in. Then, it became similar to many of the other shopping areas we’ve seen in Japan with clothing, electronics, music, and other stores. My shopping karma was still working from yesterday. I was looking for my last two presents in Nishiki-Koji and found them 30% off. Score!

We were supposed to meet with E-chan to do a little food shopping but we got our signals crossed and missed our meeting with her (We’re sorry E-chan!)

Yakitori was again on the agenda for dinner at Saga Arishiyama. Dinner was great and we also got to do a little shopping afterwards. Dr. Stapp gave out the last of the JSAP awards which we accepted graciously. After it got dark, we went down by the river to shoot off some fireworks, a fairly common activity in Japan. We had a lot of fun but at some points it was very dangerous. At one point E-chan waved her Roman candle around like a sparkler and shot a couple of blasts over our head instead of over the river. Just about everyone got to shoot off one piece of explosive before the night was over though and it was a lot of fun.

After fireworks, I tried to take pictures of the beautiful scenery at Saga Arishiyama but I could never do it justice. As we were leaving to return to the hotel, my walk was again slowed to a crawl by the enormous beauty of Japan. In the sky above us there was a group of about a half a dozen loosely clustered stars with an exceptionally bright star in the middle. A wreath of grey clouds still illuminated by the long set sun distinguished the stars off from the rolling outline the dark green mountains below them. At the foot of the mountains was a lake lit up by the soft brightness of the lights from the road. It was an incredibly beautiful sight that I think I will keep with me as a treasured memento of my trip to Japan.

Since it was our last night, we decided to stay up late at the Food Spread. We played a little poker and Shannon just killed us. She got three freakin’ straights in a row. Totally unbelievable. At about 3 AM I decided to call it quits and head home. I needed a little sleep before the long day tomorrow.

Tomorrow, still more last minute gifts and the trip home.