Saturday, January 9, 2016

Exploring Kyoto, Day Four

Kyoto Day 4

Our goal today was the center of Kyoto, starting at Himogamo Shrine, making our way south to the Imperial Palace, then Nijo Castle, and then a walk through the Nishiki Market before finding somewhere to eat our Thanksgiving dinner.

And, off we go...

Kawai Shrine

This shrine was a bit of an accident.  I was looking for the shrine north of this one.  Luckily, we had to walk through this one to make it to our intended target.  

We had another grey day so it seemed the crowds were not as hectic today as the previous three days. It was a peaceful walk through the woods from one shrine to another.


All of the roofs had moss on them, creating a beautiful, earthy scene.

At this shrine women pray for easy childbirth as well as beautiful skin.  You are supposed to look in the mirror and make an offering while you pray.  Then, you can purchase an ema board and write your wish on it, then put it up with all the other wishes.


Tadasu-no-mori

Next, we walked through the forest, Tadasu-no-mori, that lies between two rivers.  

This forest is a National Historic site, a Natural Heritage site, and a UN World Heritage site.  It is quite beautiful as well as very peaceful.  

The Shimogamo shrine's website says that a recent excavation of the forest revealed plates and arrowheads from between 4 BC - 3 AD.

A small group of 4 year old school kids on a walk
Shimogamo Shrine

At the end of the forest is Shimogamo Shrine.  

There are two dieties enshrined here, one is believed to be the sun god and the first emperor of Japan. The other is his daughter who met another god when she found his arrow in the river.  They wed and had a child, believed to be the thunder god.

The maples giving way to the bright orange/red torii was quite a picture!  We finally found either the perfect weather to deter tourists, or an area of the city that isn't frequented by many outsiders.


A small stage in the center of the grounds.


We were getting a few drops of rain here and there.  While the adults walked around looking at the buildings the kids took umbrellas and checked out the little river passing through.


There was a lovely bridge toward the back of the grounds with a  torii and a little river.  


I'm not quite sure the purpose of this phoenix.  He sure is colorful!


From here we made our way down toward the Imperial Palace.  This meant a quiet stroll along the Kamo River.  We saw fish, egrets, ducks, ducks, and more ducks!



Since it was getting close to lunchtime, we walked a few blocks into the city and found a little Hawaiian place to sit and eat.  As we were waiting for our lunches to be made we saw the baker deliver the most amazing looking bread ever!   Joan and I had the avocado gratin...I think that's what it was called.  It was tasty, but after seeing those burgers....ooohhh....so yummy!!!  Mackenzie, unfortunately, didn't think anything here looked tasty.  So, she watched us all eat, stole a few fries from her brother, and then had fried chicken from the Lawson's across the street.



Just a block or so away we found Rozanji Temple 

Rozan-ji

The reds here were front and center!

It's believed that Lady Murasaki wrote much of The Tale of Genji here.  Rozanji was built in 938 just outside the northern edge of Kyoto and was one of four temples that had a private Buddhist chapel for the imperial family.  Surprisingly, this temple survived a fire that was set on the grounds in 1571.  After that it was moved to its current location.  There are many princes, princesses and emperors buried here.


The bell surrounded by red maples


The Imperial Palace

Another couple blocks down the road we found one of the entrances to the Imperial Palace grounds.   It was very quiet here today, too.  Well, aside from the 15 or 30 seconds that the palace alarm was going off because I got a little too close to the wall.  Oopsie!
Long straight line...don't get too close!
Those are cameras and sensors on the edge of the wall.
Duh!


We found a beautiful gingko...my favorite tree!
That picture isn't edited....it was like a giant spotlight was shining on it from above.


Mackenzie had some sort of breakdown here.  Too much walking.  Not enough distance from her brother.  Grandma doesn't have two sets of eyes to watch her and Garytt at the same time on each side of her.  Probably one of those.

Our final destination for the day was up next:

Nijo-jo

~Nijo Castle~

Built in 1603 as the first shogun's residence in Kyoto and is one of the best kept examples of palace architecture from that era.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is still in its original form.

The main gate that we entered through was under construction, so I have no picture of that.  As we walked onto the grounds we passed the Bansho ~ Guard Station, this is one of the few guard houses of its kind in the country.  There were life-sized guards in the station.  ~~ We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the actual palace, but there were statues like this throughout.



Karamon Gate, a Chinese style gate.  This gate was phenomenal!  The gold and all the colors.  There were birds, dragons, and hummingbirds.  I took so many pictures of this gate!  
The front of the gate with the castle in the background

The back side of the gate




A dragon/lion type of character, I think

A man riding a dragon

Once through the gate we found the Ninomaru Palace.  We took our shoes off and entered the palace.   We were greeted by a very musical floor.  What was going on there?  Well, it was a security system built into the floors of the palace, called a Nightingale Floor.  It's a floor built so that when you walk on it it squeaks, an instant alarm when there's an intruder.  

We walked through the whole palace, a bit painful on bare feet, but a pretty awesome walk.  There were several "waiting" rooms at the beginning of the building's walkways.  People would wait in the various rooms until it was their turn to have time with the shogun.  The only people who were allowed to actually see the shogun were the very highest ranking people.  Others would be allowed into a room close to the shogun, but without a direct view of the shogun.  After we made a few turns to the right and walked along the backside of the building we found a few residence rooms and offices.  

Once outside the palace we made our way to the gardens.  The grass wasn't exactly green, but a lot of the trees and bushes were.  The gardens are fairly large with a small path winding its way through.



This gate leads us into the Honmaru, main circle of defense.  There was a second palace and a five story castle keep here at one time, but has burned down and was never rebuilt.  In its place is a palace that was moved here from another city after the shogunate fell.  We weren't allowed inside the palace, but walked around the gardens instead.


I found my favorite in a beautiful pale yellow color!

At the corner of the castle grounds we found the ruins of the old castle keep.  At the top of the stairs we could look out over the Honmaru and its garden.  As well as the mountains and grey sky beyond.

From here we walked back down to the garden and then off to the left where we found a bridge to cross and make our way back around to the entrance.

I played with this picture a bit.  :)  The red was striking!  


Even the untouched picture is pretty amazing!

As the sun was going down some of the grey sky cleared out allowing pink and gold skies to glow in the distance.  With all the structures between us and the sky we had to get little peeks here and there.
Guard station on the way to the entrance of Nijo Castle
On our way to find dinner we walked through Nishiki Market Street.  We saw quite a lot of, um, different foods offered in the stalls that hugged the sides of the insanely crowded street.  

Bumper cars, anyone?

All kinds of fish were being offered.  I did pick a couple things to purchase here.  A bag of little candies that were wrapped in something that made them look like geisha.  Also, lego candy.  LEGO CANDY!  You can actually build with it!!


So, then it was dinner time and we were hungry!!  Where would we eat for our Thanksgiving dinner? Yakiniku!  Oh so yummy yakiniku!


Garytt helped Grandma fix our dinner :)

This year we ended our Thanksgiving holiday with cheesecake and ice cream instead of pumpkin pie.







A few details about our fourth day...

A bus to Kawai Shrine --> Tadasu-no-mori --> Shimogamo Shrine --> Rozan-ji --> Imperial Palace --> Nijo-jo --> Nishiki Market Street

Total Miles walked:  12.7 miles

Kawai Shrine
Admission:  Free
Hours:  I can't find hours listed anywhere

Shimogamo Shrine
Admission:  Free
Hours:  0630-1700

Rozan-ji
Admission:  Free
I think its 500 yen to get into the garden
Hours:  0900-1600

Imperial Palace
Admission:  we walked the outer grounds and it was free.  
You can make an appointment ahead of time to tour the inside.
Hours:  24 Hours
Tours are between 1000-1400

Nijo-jo
Admission:  600 Adult 350 Children
Hours:  0845-1600

Nishiki Market
Admission:  Free