Every night in Kyoto, Rob and I would sit down by the river and people-watch and talk. Our last night there was a Friday and on Friday night a lot of . . . uhm . . . Kyotans(?) . . . gather and shoot off fireworks and make out and watch the guys who dance with flaming ropes of fire. Our favorite bar was right near this spot, so we would go in and talk to Emi, our tequila waitress, before making our way outside and staring at the water . . . Kyoto is the Austin of Japan--a laid-back college town surrounded by hill country and filled with temples, shrines and monuments. Uhm, wait. I guess Austin isn't so full of the temples, shrines and monuments, unless you count Threadgills and the Stevie Ray Vaughn Sculpture, but I can see how Stevie-Ray may be to Austin what Buddha is to Kyoto; really, it's obvious. Also, the best part of this particular point in Kyoto was that there was a Starbucks right there when you needed it. You can hate Starbucks all you want in this country, but it guarantees a good cup of coffee (or, in Rob's case a frapaccino) when you need one in Japan . . .