If you're following along with the Scripture Memory / Dwell Richly printable, here's the verse for week 2:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
We spent our first week in Japan journeying through the temples and alleyways of the beautiful Kyoto. The maples were stunning and the weather was fantastic. Aside from cherry blossom season, autumn (early Nov) is the prime time to visit Japan because of the fall foliage and dry / mild weather. This also means that this is one of the busiest tourist seasons of the year... which also means we had a difficult time finding lodging (as we can only book our hotel room a couple of weeks in advance). Even though the entire town of Kyoto was 99% booked by the time we were able to make reservations, JD ended up finding a lovely Japanese townhouse on VRBO.com located in southern Higashiyama.
Kyoto Tip: If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Kyoto, we definitely recommend the S. Higashiyama area, moreso than downtown Kyoto. We walked to most tourist places (while sneaking through charming alleyways) or rode the subway to the other areas of town. It is quiet and centrally-located.
The townhouse was an adventure in itself. Think Kung-fu Panda mixed with a little Mulan. Let me tell you, Japan is not built for tall people (see photo of JD the Giant, he's not even on his tippy-toes). The doorways were no taller than 6' in our living accommodations and most temples. The stairs were super steep and narrow (treacherous to walk down when you're wearing your house slippers). And JD may or may not have almost punched through the paper door when he was sleeping one night too. The whole trip: We both felt super large and clumsy. We were giants.
This townhouse had two tatami bedrooms (where you sleep on a thin mattress on the floor) and one bedroom with two twin western beds. And by western bed, I mean a frame with a boxspring. We grabbed four tatami mats, placed them over the boxsprings and actually slept quite comfortably! The shower and tub were a little odd. We may have also broken off the holder for the shower handle (Clumsy Giants, I tell ya!). Apparently, you're supposed to stand on the bathroom floor, shut the door and shower in the room as if the whole room was a shower. But we didn't know that sooo we took showers while standing in the 3' deep tub. The toilet seat was heated (major bonus!) but be careful not to sit too long because your bum will get roasted (according to the warning labels on the lid). They also had a fantastic kitchen but we hardly used it since we wanted to try the local cuisine (and had trouble finding a grocery store). We cleaned laundry using the washer-and-dryer-in-one machine, which we thought was genius until we finished our first load. We searched convenient stores for lint brushes then spent the next few hours brushing the lint off our clothes. In all seriousness though, the place, overall, was really cool (you can look through the slideshow below).