Today we had decided to attempt Japan Guide’s Eastern Kyoto’s Full Day Itinerary. But before heading out we went down for our free breakfast at the Ibis which was our first look at the types of items on offer at a Japanese hotel. There was congee, curry, miso soup, eggs, fruit, sausages and most importantly a coffee machine. It seemed to cater for everyone from everywhere. This is what I ended up with:
I think I covered most of the styles (I also had a fruit plate).
After eating, we headed over to Kyoto station, through the station to the other side (stopping at Uniqlo) ending up at the bus station. It was relatively easy to find the bus stop once we found the huge sign and were lucky enough to get on a bus straight away. Unfortunately by the time we were sort of pushed on, the bus was absolutely packed and we just squeezed in. Seriously hoping that not everyone was going where we were, which was the end of the line, we tried to see the scenery through people’s underarms. Luckily the space kind of cleared eventually and we ended up with seats. The bus is the Raku 100 bus which is just a normal bus (i.e. not for tourists) but seems to hit every tourist location on the way.
Alighting at the last stop we found ourselves facing a street that went up a hill to a gate. It was obviously where we wanted to go based on the fact that the street was closed to cars and was full of foods on sticks, trinket and ice cream shops. Yes, we were somewhere touristy.
We paused to look at the ice cream, cast a humorous eye on the rabbit kimono people
and ended up at our destination Ginkakuji – the silver pavilion zen temple.
We wandered the grounds, heading up in to the cooler trees
to find an awesome view of Ginkakuji and the surrounds.
Heading down again, we were confronted by a man with this sign
There was a bunch of media type looking people near the lake and it was quite obvious we were waiting for important people. Claire and I had fun trying to guess who it would be, which ranged from Beyonce (our wish) to Japanese Prime Minister (as a joke) to whom we thought was the Dalai Lama when we saw a man in that type of outfit arriving. Looking closer we realised it wasn’t the dalai lama, so we left having no idea who it was. Turns out, it actually was the Japanese Prime Minister along with the French Prime Minister!
After about 40 minutes of being stuck waiting, we got to leave, speeding past the lake
We were just glad though that we were stuck inside the tranquil gardens, rather than outside with everyone else!
After stopping to buy some Green Tea ice cream, we turned left at the end of the shop area, which was the entrance to the Philosopher’s Path. We sat on some chairs on the edge of the path eating our ice creams for a sugar lift, then headed off along the path. At this point Claire’s feet were really starting to hurt, due to the type of sneakers we were wearing, but she powered on regardless. This is her grimace smile:
Our walk took us along side the river where we saw bridges
Japanese ladies sweeping
And allowed us peeks in to hidden gardens
Struggling with foot pain, we sensed a large construction through some trees which I knew was were we were heading. Knowing that we could finally sit down, we made it to Sanmon Gate for a few minutes relief.
The scale of the gate was pretty incredible.
While we rested, I read about Nanzenji, which is the complex that contains Sanmon Gate plus a lot of other temples. I had wanted to see a rock garden, so after some minor relief, we followed the monk towards the temple.
After paying admittance to the gardens, we put on our super cool sandals (which provided Claire some feet relief)
so we could check out the Rock Garden. I think I expected some zen transformation after seeing it, but maybe I was a little too amped up for it to have any sort of impact.
We left heading for the aquaduct as it was our exit location, but we got distracted by all the people posing for pictures in their traditional outfits. At this point I should mention that there were a lot of people out and about in traditional clothing in Kyoto, my guess being that it is a weekend thing to do – posing for photos, going to tea ceremonies or going to temples or work. We kind of felt like we were stalking them a bit, but I did ask the couple below if I could take a picture.
Still following the itinerary, we eventually found the trail we hoped would lead us to the Keage Incline. For anyone wondering, go up the stairs so that you are looking down on the aquaduct, then keep going up the stairs which looks like you are going to a building, but instead find the canal leading to the aquauduct bridge and follow the water. It was up quite high and was a little bit precarious but not unsafe, so Claire and I were very alert to every step we took. But we made it to the incline!
Where we listened to a guitarist
At the bottom of the incline we saw two ladies being pulled in a rickshaw. The posh looking one on the right let out a giggle when I gave them a thumbs up. 🙂
After eating some fresh sushi outside the 7-11 for lunch, we walked past the Torii Gate
To arrive at the Heian Shrine
Which a lady was enjoying very much
and where we had our own Scarlett Johansson moment where we saw a wedding (just like in Lost in Translation – same location!)
Leaving the temple we walked back towards the Torii Gate
Past some baseball
To catch a bus as we had finally conceded our feet could no longer cope with the itinerary and it was just too much for us to handle. We skipped a few of the temples in the itinerary and aimed for Kiyomizudera, another temple. The bus dropped us at the bottom of the hill, which was near Gion and we walked up the hill with the rest of the crowds past all the shops to the temple at the top.
At this point we were unsure if Claire could go on (her sneakers were like compression bandage – they were made of wetsuit type material and were putting pressure on her toes and feet), so I was just going to go to the top and look down, then come back, but she pulled out the last of her reserves and walked upstairs, to be rewarded with this view:
The temple was absolutely stunning and well worth the effort. I just couldn’t stop taking photos.
Leaving the temple, we walked back down giving the shops a closer look (which is known as the Higashiyama District)
As we walked towards the Yasaka Shrine, we ran in to some girls who had dressed like Geishas for the day and they kindly stopped for a photo.
It seems they weren’t the only ones.
After looping around and almost back in Gion, we took the bus back to Kyoto Station where we hunted for dinner. On the 10th floor of department store we found a cluster of shops, where we decided we would cook our own meat. Turns out we kind of screwed up and ended up at a place where you cook you own meat, but it’s not on a hotplate, it’s steamed.
First they put the meat on the vegies
Then you wait for it to cook
Then you eat it. Turns out we aren’t big fans of steamed meat.
Afterwards we said goodnight to Kyoto Tower and headed for bed.