By; Verdinand Ruelos
Tuesday June 6, 2017
The day started early with a ride on the bullet train to Kyoto. We finally were able to ride the famous bullet train, and it did not disappoint with its streamlined speed and comfort. I was able to catch up on some sleep on the journey to Kyoto. Upon arriving at Kyoto, we travelled to Kyoto University where we met with Yu Tokunaga, or Toku for short, our guide in Kyoto. While Toku admitted to the dominance of the University of Tokyo in terms of academics, overall, he claimed that Kyoto is best because of its progressive and liberal thinking. After seeing both Tokyo University and Kyoto University, in my opinion Kyoto just did not have the same distinction, it simply wasn’t as elite as Todai, that being said it did have its advantages in that it was more relaxed.
Next we went to a temple near Gion called Kiyomizu temple. It was one of the most beautiful temples that I have seen and there were many tourists who were wearing traditional kimonos. We ate street food like Matcha ice cream and tokoyaki and walked around many of the shops looking for omiyage for our families back home. On the way back down the hill from the temple, I made friends with some locals from Osaka who were in Kyoto for holiday. They were very nice and one of them is actually a dietician who works in a hospital, so she might be able to help me with my research on healthcare, since she works in a hospital. We later went out to karaoke.
While all of this was lots of fun, the highlight of the day was eating at the Chinese restaurant, Tokaisaikan. We also received a guest talk from one of the managers, and sons of the owner, Tsu Tsu Wu. I remembered his name because of the anecdote he told about how at first it played as a disadvantage. His name is blatantly Chinese, so when he introduced himself, people would automatically judge him as a foreigner. But he figured out a way to turn this into an advantage because, people are more likely to remember his name, since it is not common. I have run into similar situations, since my name is also very unique: Verdi. Growing up, some people would make fun of it because it sounds funny, or it rhymes with birdie, or nerdy or dirty. I never took it too seriously, but there were moments when I wished that I had a “normal’ name. But now that I am a little older, I am grateful for my name. It’s uniqueness is something that should be embraced. People remember it, they have never met another Verdi, so the name is automatically associated with just me. This is a special thing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sure, I’ll never find a souvenir key-chain with my name on it, but I’d rather have a custom made one than have the same name as a million other people.
The food itself was superb, and the view was even better. We ate out on the balcony on a beautiful summer day in Kyoto. Gochisosama deshita!