Friday, January 8, 2016

Exploring Kyoto, Day Two

Kyoto...Day Two

We had a busy day planned!  So, we were up and at it just after breakfast.  We made our way across the main road and then over the river so we could get to the bus stop that would take us to the Golden Pavilion.

On the way I was on the lookout for fall colors.  I didn't see many.  I did notice that we hadn't seen many gingkoes on our walks.  They are my favorite, but I guess they aren't as prevalent here as they are in Tokyo.  I did see spots of red here and there.

We found NASA on a Kyoto side street.  Well, at least a NASA Buil Ding!  
Also, a Kyoto sidewalk plate with sakura flowers, birds, a sidewalk and maple leaves.

First up:

Kinkaku-ji 

The Golden Pavilion ~ This is a Buddhist hall with relics of Buddha.  It used to be the retirement home for a local shogun, and was converted to a temple upon his death in 1408.  


A few details from the gate.  I really like the ornamentation on the roofs around here.  



The gardens around the pavilion were beautiful!  We should have enjoyed the relatively empty garden ahead of the temple, because once we stepped around the corner and met the edge of the pond surrounding the pavilion we were immediately faced with a crowd so pushy for that perfect picture that it was a bit frustrating to see the front of the building.  I was elbowed several times and just pushed out of the way by one lady - you know, the kind of tourist that runs from pretty spot to pretty spot to snap a picture without looking at anything else around her.  


The top two floors are covered in gold foil on lacquer.  This, like many other places in Kyoto, is a rebuild of the original which was burned down several times and completely destroyed (twice) in the Onin War and most recently in 1955 after it was burned by a crazy man.

Each floor was built in a different style.  The first floor was built in 11th century imperial style.  The second floor is built in the buke style of the warrior aristocracy.  And, the top level is in a Chinese style.  {from the pavilion literature}


I had enough sun for a reflection shot.


Once we walked around to the side and back of the pavilion the crowds seemed to break up a bit and we could take our time to look at the details of the building.


I like the golden phoenix on top of the building.

We decided that since it was close enough to lunch and we were (conveniently) a few steps from Coco's, we should stop and fill our bellies.  The kids had their usual, chicken cutlet curry, but, as I was looking at the menu I saw something that looked delightful at the back of the menu.  Something I've never seen on the menu in our town.  I decided to order it...how could I possibly go wrong with something with the word "cheesy" in it??  So, cheesy hamburger doria is what I had.  Oh.My.The.Yumminess!!!!  Cheese and rice and a hamburger patty and, CHEESE!  Turns out, this is offered at the Yokosuka Coco's, but it's not in the English menu, I had to point to it in the Japanese menu instead.  Dee-licious!

Ok, now that our bellies were full, we made our way to the bamboo forest in the Arashiyama section of town.

Wowoowow!  The crowds!  I read somewhere in the planning process that we wanted to get to this place early to avoid the crowds.  That wasn't possible with our schedule, and I learned why.  

People.People.People....and, those stinkin' rickshaws!  They were so big for the path and the drivers were insistent on us getting out of their way...uh, hello...we are trying to enjoy ourselves here too, thankyouverymuch. 



Anywho....the bamboo grove was pretty cool.  We've seen so many bamboo groves while living here that it wasn't that incredibly spectacular experience that it was for some.  But, it's still pretty cool to stand under one of those skinny trees and look waaaaay up to the bent and swaying top.  The gutter cover on this street was maple leaves.  


At the end of the bamboo grove was:

 Tenryu-ji

This temple is a World Cultural Heritage Site, also known as the "Temple of the Heavenly Dragon".  In the mid to late 1200's a villa was built here and on the death of the Emperor's grandson, who was raised and educated here, it was converted to a Zen temple.  Yup...you guessed it...burned down 8 times since then.  The latest rebuild was in the late 1800s.  The garden, however, is listed as one of the oldest surviving landscape gardens in Japan.  

The path through the garden from the North Entrance around to the Main Hall was fairly calm...well, majorly calm after that crowded walk through the bamboo.  There were still those crazy tourists that ran from one entrance to the other snapping quick shots along the way.  But, only a few here.

I'm not sure what this is called, but the sunlight filtering through it was beautiful.
Simple, few colors, but beautiful.

Okay, what my pictures don't show is the way the halls and walkways of this temple snake through the grounds.  Quite literally like a dragon's body sloping down off the roof of one hall to the walkway that meanders through the trees before curving gently to the left and then connecting into the Main Hall.  Beautiful architecture.  Below is part of the curve through the garden and trees.


The Sogenchi Garden has maintained the same form as when it was designed and constructed in the 1300's.  It was designated a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1994.

This rock garden had the ability to quiet the massive crowd surrounding it.  There were a lot of people sitting on the deck of the Main Hall or standing along the walkway around the garden.
Just looking.
Quietly.

The colors here were pretty, with some trees starting to turn, some completely turned, and then some not even thinking about turning yet.  Green, red, orange, yellow, brown.  

Stunning.

There was another rock garden on the other side of the Main Hall.  I liked how the tall tree stands out in the straight lines of the garden.  And, then the best picture I could get as an example of the curved roof.  It only rises slightly here at this gate, but I hope you get the idea.  


It's now mid afternoon and we had one more destination for the day.  I was afraid this would be the only day without some sort of showers and our last stop for the day shuts down in rainy weather.  I'm not sure how rainy it has to be to shut down, but I didn't want to take any chances.  So, we added a few more layers since it was starting to get chilly, and made our way to Arashiyama.

Togetsukyo Bridge

"Moon Crossing Bridge" ~ Originally built around 1100 and then rebuilt in the 1930s.

Again, crowds...maybe we're starting to get used to them at this point.  We made our way across the bridge, looking at the mountain ahead of us, the people around us, and the boats floating near us.


On the other side of the bridge we found the entrance to Arashiyama Monkey Park.  That's right folks...MONKEYS!!!

Before I take you up the mountain there are a few rules to remember:

1.  Don't stare at the monkeys in the eye
(Because, Garytt, they will think you are challenging them and attack you.
Yes, attack.  Just don't do it, m'kay?)

2.  Don't touch the monkeys.
(Because, Garytt, they are wild animals and they might bite or scratch.)

3.  Don't feed them outside.
(Because, Garytt, they may use their teeth to bite you instead of just the food.)

4.  Don't take a picture on the way.
(Um, Garytt, I'm not sure about this one.  Maybe they don't want you clogging up the paths where they run free.  Yes, they run free.  No, you can not look them in the eye even on the path.)

Entrance to Arashiyama

We walked uphill for a bit and then the path opened to an area with MONKEYS!!!
Baby monkeys, momma monkeys, kid monkeys, playful monkeys, quiet monkeys, fast monkeys, ornery monkeys, you name the kind of monkey, and he was there!


Cute little babies were hanging out being all cute and stuff.  There was one medium sized guy that was making most of the other monkeys angry.  I'm  not sure what his deal was, but he would come near other monkeys and they would all start screaming at each other, then the park attendants would come over and chase him off.  



There were several hungry monkeys.  Garytt and I fed them.  We paid a couple hundred yen to go in and then pick a bag of fruit before going to a fenced window where we could feed the monkeys.  If you've read my posts before, then you know that Boy is obsessed with getting close to any animal he sees in the wild.  I know, maybe not the safest idea most times, but in reality, the wild animals usually run away before he gets within a few feet.  This time, he had permission to feed these amazingly cute creatures!  He was so excited!  Immediately, he and Grandpa went into the little house and picked out a bag of apples.  One piece after another he fed it to the little guy hanging from the window.  They were so gentle.  I chose a bag of bananas.  I would put the piece in my hand, hold it up to the window and that tiny, black, human-like hand would reach out and gently take it from me.  He would first make a small tear in the peel with his front teeth, then stick the whole thing in his mouth and separate the peel from the fruit and then spit out the peel. WOW!  Such a fun experience!!!  Boy would hold out a piece of food, the monkey would take it, and then Boy would look at us like, "WOW!  Did you just see that? I just fed a monkey! He touched my hand!!"  Garytt and I could have done that all day.  :)   Mackenzie refused to go in the house.  She told Kris that she liked seeing the monkeys from inside the car (a few days earlier we saw monkeys hanging out on the side of the highway as we explored Chiba).


"Look, Ma! The monkey is rightthere!!"

The view from the top of the mountain.  It was nice to see a little blue in the sky after we had a few sprinkles on us when we arrived at the train station for the monkey park.


We made our way back down the mountain, quicker than we went up, and wandered through back roads to the train station so we could avoid the insanely crowded sidewalks on the main street.  Such a peaceful walk.  


We were surprised towards the end of the walk when we happened upon this scene, one we would not have seen if we stuck to the main, touristy road.

This is the Kimono Forest.  There are about 200 pillars, all about 6 feet tall and each covered with 32 different kimono fabrics and patterns.  

In the middle of the forest is a little pond, called Ryu no Atago.  This is supposed to be an energy spot and many people come here to pray for their dreams and life goals.  You are supposed to put your hands in the water and make a wish.  The water was pretty cold.  



It was pretty neat walking through the kimono pillars.  They all had lights in them and since the sun was on it's way down for the evening they were starting to light up the paths that wandered around the Randen tran station on the Keifuku Arashiyama line.

We made it back to the house around 5 and had dinner...Kris made stir fried chicken with potatoes, onions, and peppers, I think.  Then, we found some microwave rice to go with it.  Not the best rice, but it was good enough.

After dinner, Grandma stayed at the house to put the kiddos to bed while Kris, Gregg and I made our way back to Kiyomizu-dera for the night illuminations.  This was definitely the kind of illumination I was looking for, far different from the Yasaka Shrine Illumination.

On our way we found a Totoro store!  Woot!  On our way back down I collected a few Christmas presents.  :)

Kiyomizu-dera

Wow...I thought I had seen busy crowds.  They were nothing compared to the crowd we experienced at the stage and then the bridge around the valley.  It was a solid mass of hundreds of people...maybe thousands.  It was unbelievable!  

So, after we fooled with my camera trying to get some night shots...which, I still haven't figured out how to successfully do, we then made our way to the stage.  This was where we noticed the insane crowd of people trying to walk on the walkway around the valley.  I thought, why are we going to try and walk through that mess?  We should just go down the steps to where the bottom walkway runs next to the fountain and bypass the crowd.  Then, we could get over to the pagoda where we would have a much better view of the stage and lights.  So, down the stairs we all three went.  Dad decided he would hang out down here and explore.  Kris and I walked backwards along the path.  Well, turns out we were the only "geniuses" who thought to go this way....at the end of this bottom path there were guards who were not allowing anyone to go backwards on the path!  What?!  Not as smart as we thought we were.  Oh well...we turned back around and walked back up the stairs so we could merge with the mass of picture takers as we bobbed and weaved through the crowds.  There were a few times where we were lucky enough to get up to the railing and stop to snap a picture.  But, most of the time we just held our phones over our heads and pushed the picture button a million times.  Like, five of those million turned out.  And, here they are...

The stage completely lit up.  Can you see some of the fall colored trees illuminated on the edges of the picture?  It was pretty neat.  There wasn't as much color as all the posters bragged about.  But, it was still pretty neat to see the trees illuminated.


We were surprised to see Daikokuten on display.  I'm pretty sure he was not viewable when we were there they day before.


The pagoda was pretty awesome in the daytime, and even more so at night.  With the lights everywhere and the dark sky behind.  Magnificent!


The stage had lighting as well.



We had a pretty full day of exploring!  Even though we were sprinkled on here and there, we had another day without significant rain.  A few details about the day...


We walked from Aotake-an --> NASA BuilDing Bus stop ~ bus to Kinkakuji ~ train to Arashiyama --> walk to Bamboo Grove --> Tenryuji --> Arashiyama Monkey Park --> train station back to Kiyomizu Gojo Station --> Kiyomizu-dera --> Aotake-an

Total miles walked:  11.8

Kinkaku-ji
Admission:  400 Adult, 300 Children
Hours:  0900-1700

Bamboo Grove
Admission:  Free
Hours:  24 hours

Tenryu-ji
Admission:   500 Adult, 300 Children
Hours:  0830-1700

Arashiyama Monkey Park
Admission:  550 Adult, 250 Children
Hours:  0930-1600

Kiyomizu-dera Night Illuminations
Admission:  300 Adult, 200 Children
Fall Illumination Hours:  1800-2100