We left Osaka earlier than we had planned, and far more exhausted than we had planned. The last three days were starting to catch up as our legs were starting to get tired. On the half hour Shinkensen ride, we were trying to figure out Kyoto, what to see and what not to see. We had formulated a plan of attack, but everyone knows how plans usually don’t workout as you planned.
On arrival we were hit with the rude awakening that it was a Japanese holiday weekend, and it seemed that everyone was in Kyoto. The line for the city bus we needed to take was a block long. By the time we got on the bus it was standing room only. When we found our hostel, no was there to open the door and we stood scratching our heads for about 15 minutes. Finally a guest came out for a smoke and we were able to put our stuff down. Not the best introduction to Kyoto.
Looking for someone to come to the door of our guest house.
We asked our guest house supervisor what to do. He suggested walking to Kiyomizu Temple that was near the guesthouse.
An actual Geisha, The temple sits on stilts and holds thousands of people, The view of Kyoto through the front gate.
Which way do we go? The street walking up to the temple filled with shops, some small rocks with aprons.
Lighting incense for prayer.
If you know us by now, you know our walk would not end with just one sight. So we walked through the Giesha teahouse area where we were staying and got lost on our way to the downtown shopping street.
We thought we were close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace so we walked there, but apparently it was not that close and more like a few miles. We walked through this beautiful park only to find out the Palace was closed on Sundays, Oh well, and decided to come back early the next day.
The side gate of the Imperial Palace as close as we got, The wall of the Palace, Walkway up to the front gate. Brooke photo bombing my flower shot.
With our feet barking we walked back to the hostel and found dinner at a local market. We bought some Sushi that was on sale, crackers, cheese, grape juice we thought was wine, and cookies. Best sushi we have ever had.
The next morning we were up at dawn excited to take on the day, for we had much to see. So we headed back to the Kyoto Imperial Palace (by bus this time) and waited around until 7:45 when they were supposed to open. At about 8:30, a gentleman told us it was a holiday and it was closed for the day.
Waiting for the gate of the Palace to open, updating our travel log on her new iphone.
So we formulated a new plan of attack and headed out to Kinkaku-ji, Temple of the Golden Pavilion. You walk though some great landscaping to a pond that has a building that has been wrapped in gold leaf sitting in the middle. It feel so peaceful even when there were hundreds of tourists around. Brooke and I were asked to take our photo’s about seven times. That is when I got the idea for my next job: the Kyoto Cowboy. Dress as a cowboy and hold a big belt buckle that people can rub for good luck. It would cost 200 Yen ($2) for a photo with the Cowboy. I’d be rich.
The Golden Pavilion on water, A monk raking all the leaves up to keep the place immaculate, a water feature around the pavilion, the temple from the backside.
Us at the Golden Pavilion.
We then walked up the street to Ryoan-ji, zen garden. This place was spectacular, as it is supposed to one of the best examples of a zen garden in the world. Not only was the garden beautiful, but the grounds were too. They take such good care of all aspects of the landscaping and made sure there was not a single leaf on the ground.
Brooke sporting the slippers you had to wear inside, The actual garden with all 15 rocks and people watching, a few of the rocks up close.
Our next stop on the city bus tour was Nijo Castle. This is where vistiors to the Shogun would stay. We were able to tour the castle, unfortunately though, you are not allowed to take photographs inside.
The outside of the castle, the gate of the castle, a water feature on the castle grounds, Brooke watching the water, Brooke standing near the castle wall.
We then made it to Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion. This temple was supposed to be similar to the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The only thing is that the building is not covered in silver leaf. We had some students who were a part of an English club giving us a tour, they told us that the Shogun ran out of money and was unable to buy silver leaf to wrap it in.
The Temple itself you can see it is actually not silver, Zen rock garden depicting Mt. Fuji, Brooke and I, Brooke and I with our free guides.
We had one more sight we wanted to see before the sun went down, but it was out of town aways. So we grabbed some lunch and headed to Fushimi Inari Shrine. If you have ever seen Memoir of a Geisha, in the beginning she is running through the orange tunnel, that was filmed at this shrine. We may have been exhausted because we were constantly moving from 7am to 4pm, but the Shrine was well worth the experience. Hundreds of thousands of Torii gates, the gates are found at the entrance of most Shinto Shrines and they mark the transition from profane to sacred. Every trail up the side of the mountain was covered with torii gates. It was amazing to run through.
The Shrine itself lit up at dusk, the trail up the mountain that is covered by thousands of Torii Gates
On the covered trail to the mountain top. The shine has statues of foxes all over.
Finally though, we had to head back as it was getting dark and our bodies were sore. We again bought our sushi from the grocery store and ate at the coffee table in the Guest house. We relaxed for the night as the next day we were off to Mount Fuji.