Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Travel: Kinkakuji Temple

We started off the morning with a hearty breakfast of noodles. Ok, so maybe not so hearty. So how about a tea from a vending machine as we walk to Kyoto station? Uhh nope, certainly not my idea of a nice strong cup!

Today is the only day that I’ve been really confused about our travel arrangements to get to a location. I researched and checked timetables and maps, but I still couldn’t work it out. So we thought we’d cover our bases and buy a 500 yen all day bus pass. We find the right bus as it’s very well signposted about which bus we need to catch, and we are off on our way towards Kinkakuji temple. The bus ride takes about 45 minutes.

We hop off the bus and walk the 100-200 metres to the entrance and we are greeted with the most beautiful autumn foliage. The grounds are so pretty and I am in awe.

We pay the entrance fee and as soon as we walk in and we are greeted by the golden temple. It is simply stunning. These photos do not do the temple justice. It is majestic. The shimmering gold is really a sight to behold.

After we’ve taken our obligatory photos, we move on into the grounds. We had a go flicking some coins into Buddha’s coin basket. I am far more ass than class, and I got three in from five coins. I guess that means I’ll have lots of luck?

Kate and I even get a photo together, there is supposed to be a small waterfall in this picture.

And one last glimpse of Kinkakuji.

And to make up for the crappy can of tea this morning, I decided I deserved an ice cream.

And afterwards I am still none the wiser how we are getting to our next destination. So we hop in a cab and make our way to the Arashiyama district. I’m going from memory here, but I think it ended up being about $30AUD. And considering I can work out any route ordinarily, but I couldn’t work this one out, it was worth the cost.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Travel: Rengeoin Sanjusangendo

Rengeoin Sanjusangendo was definitely on my bucket list of sites to visit while in Kyoto. So, I was pretty excited walking there from Tofukuji Temple, although that could also be because I’m in freaking Japan and I’m still pinching myself!

The reason why I was so excited to see Rengeoin Sanjusangendo is because of the 1001 life-sized Buddha statues. I must admit, when we first walked up to the building, I was extremely disappointed to see the no photography sign, and so me being me, I didn’t take any photos inside. Which is a shame, because it would have been awesome to get some shots of the Buddha statues. I did buy some postcards though, so good enough.

The building that they are housed in is massive!

And then we just wander around the grounds.

The giant bell, it is way bigger than it looks!

And then we check out the shrine on the grounds.

By this stage, we are exhausted and feel like it’s time to go back to Kyoto station and collect our bags from the lockers and make our way to our first Airbnb apartment of our trip. We decide to walk as it’s only 20 minutes according to Google maps. Everywhere today seems to be only 20 minutes away!

The walk to our apartment is 15 minutes from the station. It’s a pleasant walk, even though night is falling. The view from the balcony is amazing, you can see Kyoto Tower. The room is a reasonable size, but the bathroom is tiny, something we will need to get used to while in Japan!

Now, for some food! We wander around and find a tiny, little restaurant. So little, there are only 4 tables, with 4 seats at each table. We pick from pictures and I somehow end up picking squid. All I really want is some chicken. Not to worry as it tastes so good.

And finally we creep back to the apartment and sleep really, really deeply after all that walking.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Travel: Tofukuji Temple

We walk the 20 minutes from the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine to Tofukuji Temple. It’s such a pleasant walk, even after spending 2 ½ hours walking around the shrine.

This is the temple’s Sammon (main gate) and it is the oldest Zen temple gate in Japan.

And here’s the Sammon gate as well as the Hondo (main hall).

On the way we had bought a drink from a vending machine because we are so excited with buying drinks in the middle of the street, but once we go through the gate at Tofukuji we are stopped because you are not allowed to drink in the temple precinct. It’s not a problem at all, but we can’t see a bin and the guard can’t understand us, even when we crack out the phrasebook. In the end, another guard comes over and he points us in the right direction. Although we do need to buy a ticket to get into the temple grounds just to reach the bin. But, once we walk inside the grounds, we realise that it was well worth the entrance fee.

We then walk up to Kaisando Hall which is a mausoleum.

Afterwards we make our way to the main attraction, Tofukuji Hojo and the gardens. We sit here a while and soak up the sun and enjoy a well earned rest.

We make our way out of Tofukuji, but not before passing a couple more amazing buildings.

We check Google maps again and think the 20-25 minute walk to Rengeoin Sanjusangendo seems reasonable, so off we go.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Travel: Fushimi Inari Taisha

We walk out of Inari Station, and straight away we see the most amazing torii. Kate stands in front of the gate for perspective. It’s huge and once again I am pinching myself that we are here and I am seeing this with my own eyes. If you haven’t noticed by now, I walk around Japan in amazement pretty much all the time.

We walk up through the Romon gate.

We find that there is an area for us to buy a Homa wood stick which we can write our wishes on. The stick then gets burned as part of the Hitakisai festival on the following day. My wish was for wealth and happiness. I’m not too fussed about the wealth part, but I am big on the happiness.

We start walking through the shrine. There’s a map and I don’t think it’s quite to scale as I say to Kate that it should only take us 20 minutes or so to get to the top.

We've been walking for a while, about 30 minutes from the map and we think we should be there soon. We're not. But we do find an area just over halfway up the mountain with a little shop and the ice creams are selling like hotcakes! There's not a bad view of Kyoto from here either!

We stop to buy a drink, but we start off again, still going up and up. We joke about the standards in Japan and how they are non-existent for stairs as it feels like every stair is a different height and length.

Are we there yet....

After 50 minutes, we finally reach the top. (Sorry Kate, I really did think it was only going to take 20 minutes all up!)

And then we make our way down to the bottom. It is so much cooler on this side of the mountain.

It’s amazing how there are little stores along the path through the shrine.

And once we finally get closer to the bottom, we decide to test out a vending machine. Of course I choose Pocari Sweat, purely because it has sweat in the name. We also get a steamed bun to try out. We have no idea what is in it but it tastes pretty good.

We check Google maps and decide there’s no point catching a train and that we would walk the 20 minutes to our next destination Tofukuji.