Friday, July 10, 2009

From one temple to the next

While Kyoto is a modern city, it is also full of traditional Japanese beauty.

According to Liz's wonderful guidebook that she let me borrow, "Kyoto has everything visitors could wish for, with more than 1,800 temples, hundreds of shrines, historical buildings and heighborhoods, famous gardens, and beauty spots among wooden hills."

Indeed. That's why it's such a popular tourist destination and was a great place to go with the gals. We spent two and a half days there visiting the must-sees.

A look at Kyoto Tower upon our arrival to the city.

One of the first temples we went to was Hishi Hogan-ji Temple, near Kyoto Station. It is the headquarters of the Judo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, making it one of Japan's most important temples.

At Hishi Hogan-ji, we saw lots of elderly people with brooms -- volunteers, ready to clean! (Kind of looks like it could be a Hogwarts' staff gathering, hehe.)

Inside the temple.

On Tuesday, we toured western Kyoto, starting with Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavillion. The trusty guidebook says that it's one of the most famous locations in all of Japan.

Such a beautiful temple -- made of gold and reflected in the pond.

From there, we walked to Ryoan-ji, famous for its rock garden. We didn't go inside since it was under construction. Instead, we continued on to Ninna-ji Temple.

Jennifer and I posing in front of the pagoda at Ninna-ji.

A group of students asked if they could take a picture with us! They asked in English, which made "Dana Sensei" proud. :)

Later that afternoon, we tried on kimonos (which I wrote about last time), and then went window shopping that evening.

On Wednesday, we walked all over the eastern side of Kyoto. We started at Ginkaku-ji Temple, also called the Silver Pavillion.

Turns out that it's not even silver!! What a bummer.
Lauren: "We paid 500 yen ($5) for this!?!?"
Dana: "Haha, I'm going to take your picture with this fantastic temple...get excited!" ;)
Anyway, the nice garden surrounding the temple made it worth it.

We walked down the Path of Philosophy, which was quite a pleasant stroll along a canal, past some shrines and small temples.

I wasn't going to admit this, but I've decided I will because it's kind of funny (now it's funny, anway):
We went to Ninna-ji Temple twice! On accident. We ended up walking in a circle, and about an hour later, were right back where we'd started. "Gee, this temple looks an awful lot like the last one! Wait a second..." Dang.

Standing in front of the Chion-in Temple. We were less than thrilled about all of the steps at this point in our journey/mini-marathon.

We continued walking (I'm guessing that we hiked approximately 14 miles this day. I'm not kidding.) until we reached Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which is super duper famous. (Those are my words, not the guidebook's.) :)

From Kiyomizu-dera, there is a beautiful overview of Kyoto.

We walked through Gion, Kyoto's oldest entertainment and geisha district, on our way back to the hostel where we stayed. I had a personal mission to spot a geisha, but that mission failed. I saw a poster of one, so I guess that will do.

On Thursday, we made a day trip to Nara, which I'll share about next time, in my fourth and final blog post about our trip to the Kansai area. Stay tuned.


Lauren said...

We did see temple after temple!!! It was a lot of fun though and my favorite was the silver one, that was not even silver!!!

Dawn said...

(from Chris)

Ahh, Kyoto, the anagram lovers' Tokyo.

grace said...

I completely believe that you walked 14 miles that day because I'm pretty darn sure I did the SAME thing when my group was in Kyoto! Spotting a geisha in Gion is nearly impossible these days I've heard...I had the same mission!

Bemopti123 said...

If you could, perhaps you should have visited the "Philosopher's walk" which will allow you to follow a brook, going downhill for miles and miles. There you could certainly feel the ancient/timelessness of Kyoto on all its glory.

Anyway, I am very jealous of your prolonged stay in Japan. Only wish I could be there now, not really now, because Summers can be brutal in Kyoto.