Saturday, January 9, 2016

Exploring Kyoto, Day 3

Day three!  I can't believe we are halfway through our week!  We've already seen so much, and have so much more on our list!  However will we squeeze it all in?  

By walking, of course!  And, today we had a lot of walking planned!  First, a bus ride to Ginkakuji.  As our bus was taking a turn on its route through the city we happened to see a giant, seriously GIANT torii out the left window.  Both kids, at the same time, exclaimed, "WHOA!" as the Japanese ladies around us giggled at them.  I turned to Kris and said, "We HAVE to see that before we leave!"

Ginkakuji Temple

~ The Silver Pavilion ~

Established in 1482...Columbus hadn't even made it to North was originally a retirement home for the 8th Muromachi Shogunate, then converted to a temple upon his death.  Apparently (so says Japan Guide), this guy was obsessed with art and entered the region into the Higashiyama Cultural Era.  This is when the following art forms were developed and refined:  tea ceremony, noh performances, flower arrangement, poetry, garden design and some architecture.  

After we bought our tickets we made our way down the quiet path toward the pavilion.   It's a 150-ish foot path of bamboo, stone, and camellia hedges on both sides of the path.  Once we let the crowd around us rush toward the main event, the path quieted down quite a bit.  It was a nice, calm entry into one of the most colorful spots we saw on this week-long trip.

Another phoenix which shows the connection to the Golden Pavilion...grandfather (gold) and grandson (silver).

When you first walk onto the grounds you see the pavilion off to your right and a sand garden in front of you.

The "Sea of Silver Sand" has a sand cone named "Moon Viewing Platform".  
We called it a little Sand Fuji.

Not exactly silver.   I read that "silver" is just a nickname given to show that it was related to the golden pavilion.

Around towards the back of the grounds, in the gardens, there was a little waterfall with a pond at its feet.  Many people tossed change into the pond.

I really enjoyed wandering through the garden here.  Like I said, the colors were so great!  I could have taken a million pictures of all the leaves.

This is a view from the top of the hill behind the pavilion.

Slightly edited photo...I couldn't figure out how to get my camera to capture the brilliant colors like my eyes were seeing.  The green in the photo below is a little distorted, but the reds look pretty close to the fiery reds my eyes saw.

Kris seemed to have a good time snapping pictures of the gardens as well.  I love, love, love how he was able to get the red leaves that settled on the top of the pond.

Once we wandered back out to the street, we walked between all the shops along the road that leads to Ginkakuji and made our way out to the main road.  Here, at the little stream that veers off to the left, we walked across Ginkakuji Bridge and then followed the path along the canal.  

Tetsugaku no michi 

~Philosopher's Path~

This path through the northern part of the Higashiyama district follows a canal that meanders for a few kilometers from Ginkakuji to Nanzenji.  The path was named for one of Japan's most famous philosophers, Nishida Kitaro, who meditated while walking this path on his way to work at Kyoto University every day.  

The canal we walked along is part of the Lake Biwa Canal.  This canal was dug through the mountains from Lake Biwa, about 10 miles or so.  As we were walking we noticed, to Garytt's great delight, that there were koi swimming along or, in some cases, just hanging out below or beside fallen trees and algae.  At one point a gentleman that didn't speak much English, just enough (along with helpful hand signals) to explain they made it to the river by swimming in the tunnel that comes from Biwa-ko (Lake Biwa).  He was very talkative and so happy to explain the canal and its creatures to us.  I just wish we could have understood more of what he had to say.

There are many shops and some restaurants along this route.  There are also several temples.  I found this one interesting.  There wasn't anything in English to help me understand what the name of the place was or what was going on inside.  Looking at a map, it looks as if this is Miroku-in.  

It was just a small place on the opposite side of the canal.  There wasn't anyone inside and the desk inside was empty.  

I really liked the ema at this temple.  Cute.

Somehow I missed taking a picture of Honen-in.  It had a beautiful thatched roof covered in moss.  We did not go into this temple, and I'm not sure why.  Maybe the crowd was crazy.  Or, maybe the little people in the group preferred not to go in.  I can't remember.  But, if you're there you should definitely look into this one.  Next up on our route, though, was Eikan-do.


I played with the coloring a bit in the picture below.  I wanted the line of trees on the walkway just inside the gate to be highlighted.  It was so beautiful.

We didn't actually go all the way into this temple.  The crowd wasn't too bad at the entrance, but we were almost halfway through the day and we still had quite a few destinations on our list.  So, we walked around the entranceway to marvel at the deep reds!  Wow...the reds!  The picture below has no filter...that is the shot the camera captured.  The red was so crazy here!!!

Just a little farther down the street we found Nanzenji Temple.  This was our goal to end our morning.  


Established in the 1200's and most recently rebuilt around the 1600s.  

This is Sanmon, the first gate we walked by once we were a little walk into the grounds.  We were actually able to climb up into this gate!  Woot!  Kris and the kids paid a few hundred yen each to walk into the gate while Gregg, Joan and I made our way back toward the main hall.  

After they paid they took their shoes off and started up the steps.  The steep steps.  At the second floor they walked across to the other side and walked down.  Kris said it wasn't anything exciting.  I'm pretty sure this is the first gate we've had the opportunity to walk around in though.  

Meanwhile, on the other side of the grounds, we found the Hojo.  This is the main hall.  It didn't seem too spectacular.  Maybe we've seen too many temples in three days....nah.... :)  The real treasure, in my opinion, was off to the right of the Hojo.  

This beautiful aqueduct is hiding, as best as a beautiful structure like this can hide in the trees, off to the right of the Hojo.  This was built around the early 1900's and is part of the canal that brings water from Biwa-ko to Kyoto.

Some of the ornamentation on Nanzen-in - the temple on the other side of the aqueduct.    We didn't pay to go into this section of the grounds.  There is a garden back there and maybe a pond.  It was getting to be lunch time for us.  So, we took a few more pictures, found that we could actually walk up the hill a bit and climb to the top of the aqueduct!  How awesome!
While we were up there we found a pretty run down little structure.  I thought it was a pretty amazing find.  It's not ornamented like the other buildings in the temple and it definitely wasn't something all the tourists wanted to crowd around and take a million pictures of the family in front of it.  It was quiet, old, seemingly little-cared-for, and a bit hidden.  Perfect!  After a little walk around it, we made our way back down.  
I forced them into a few posed pictures before we left.  

From Nanzenji we wanted to make our way toward the huge torii we saw first thing that morning.  Then, we hoped to find a place to eat lunch before wandering Heian Jingu- the shrine beyond the torii.  So, off we go!  Along the canal a little more.  We passed a zoo and found the strange statue, the Monument of Brightness.  Not sure of his purpose.

Then, off in the distance we could see it!  The biggest torii we'd seen at that point!

We took a few quick pictures before heading off to find lunch.  I thought we were eating at the Lawson's there on the corner so I sat comfortably on the bench and started to munch away, wondering why everyone was sitting and not eating around me.  I didn't have my listening ears on.  Everyone was waiting on silly me so we could go find an actual restaurant to sit and enjoy our lunch leisurely.  Oopsie.  I inhaled the last couple gyoza on my plate and we made our way down the street and around the corner to a little noodle/fried stuff shop called Restaurant Miyako.

The lunch sets were pretty big.  Too big for me to finish it all.  It was yummy though!

After my (second) lunch we made our way back toward Heian Jingu.

Heian Jingu

Heian Jingu was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as the capital of Japan...Heian is the former name of Kyoto, also the name of the last classical period in Japanese history (794-1185). 

First, we walk by this goliath!

We saw wedding pictures being taken in front of the shrine and then were able to see a wedding procession happen inside the shrine grounds as we were walking around.  

Unlike all the other places we had visited so far in the city, this place was fairly empty.  Probably because there really isn't much to see here.  The inside of the shrine is a big square with buildings around the perimeter.  
Lights hanging around the edge of one of the buildings
While we walked around and looked at the buildings the kids found a spot off to the side where they played in the rocks.  Whatever keeps them occupied and calm.  Well, mostly calm...they did take several minutes where they ran down a ramp at full speed and then did a first-base slide into the rocks.  After a few runs they settled down to piling rocks into little Mount Fuji's while a few Japanese tourists snapped their pictures.  
The shrine paperwork says the buildings here are reconstructions of the Imperial Palace of the Heian Period, but on a smaller scale.

They are very colorful with swooping roofs.  Beautiful to look at.

Street tile in Gion
We were starting to get sprinkled on a bit now and it was getting a little chilly.  So, we made our way toward home.  I thought it would be nice to walk through the Gion district during the daytime this time so we can get a good look at the whole area in the light.  

A shot of a quiet alley just off Gion Dori.

A lot of the store-fronts had neat ornamentation.  Little gods, lanterns, pretty wooden decorations and even a tree!

Here's a good shot of the wood common for Machiya style storefronts.

Once we were back at the house Kris and I headed out to add money to our train cards in preparation for our travels over the next two days.  We also picked up the makings for dinner for the evening.

Another full day of walking and exploring Kyoto!

The details of the day:

Starting out around 0930, we walked from Aotake-an to the bus stop ~ Ginkaku-ji ~ then walked: Ginkakuji --> Philosopher's Path -->  Eikan-do --> Nanzen-ji --> Restaurant Miyako --> Heian Jingu --> Gion District --> Aotake-an

Total miles walked:  10.25

Admission:  500 Adult / 300 Children
Hours:  0900-1600

Admission:  600 Adult / 400 Children
Hours:  0900-1600

Admission:  The grounds we walked were free
(from the Gate to the Main Temple to the Aqueduct)
Walking through the Gate cost about 300, I believe
I think to get into the temple it was about 500 Adult / 300 Children
Hours:  0840-1600

Heian Jingu
Admission:  The area we walked was free
(through the main gate and around the courtyard)
I think it's about 500 or 600 yen to get into the gardens behind the courtyard
Hours:  0600-1600