Temples, shrines and tourists!
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Couchsurfed with Momo
We dropped our bags and headed out into the night! Momo gave us a small evening tour of Kyoto. It is much larger than I imagined. A very modern city, good transport but a heavy tourist population. We visited Kiyomizu temple that night. Some of the temples are lot up in the evening! Momo is awesome at walking through large crowds, she has little patience like me and finds little holes to worm herself through the tourists! I'm reminded of a Family Guy episode, the one where new Yorkers visit new England in the fall to see the changing colours of the flora. It seemed everywhere I looked, tourists were taking pictures of trees, bushes, leaves, I forget how lucky we are in the UK to experience the four seasons. I had to join in, some of the trees looked great in the evening light.
We walked around the temple, well, we squeezed our way around the temple and also got to see a view of downtown Kyoto at night. The Kyoto tower was designed to replicate a burning candle, so it didn't spoil the skyline too much when it was constructed.
The walk to and from the temple included small cobbled alleyways, lined with souvenir shops of some free food samples.
In the evening we met a friend of Momo from New Zealand and headed to a Ramen restaurant then hung out at Momo's for the rest of the evening. To my surprise, Momo gave me her double bed, Chinese guy Jay had a mattress on the floor and Momo slept in a small ball on the floor. She wouldn't let me give up her bed, no matter how much I tried! She also got very shy when, after taking her make up off, I asked her to wave to my brother and then my mum, lol! Her English is perfect after spending 8 months in New Zealand. So, as a lucky traveller, I got a bed to myself!!
Jay left very early next day and seeing as Momo was sleeping in, I found it very difficult to get up! Eventually Momo made me coffee and I headed out. I was unaware how large Kyoto was and how many temples there are. I picked a couple of destinations and focused on those rather than trying to see everything.
My first destination, recommended by Estelle in Hiro, was Fushimi Inari Shrine. It took a subway pass and some walking to find it, passing crowds of tourists but the Shrine is quite amazing! The main part of the attraction, is a line of Shrines that snake their way up to the top of the nearby mountain! An beautiful sight, shrine after shrine, path after path lined in shrines. I walked about half way up before turning around. My legs are still tired from China and my time was in the balance today. I'm so glad Estelle recommended this shrine to me.
Stupidly, my other destination was at the opposite end of the city. I chose to visit Kinkakuji Temple and the Golden Pavilion. A walk back to the subway, a subway ride then another walk to the temple. On the walk back to the subway I stopped off at Tofukuji Michi. No, it's not giant Tofu but large historic buildings that are neither a temple or shrine. I didn't pay to go in but enjoyed the outside view.
I got to the golden pavilion before the sun set. Again, it was heavily packed with tourists, pushy ones this time.The golden pavilion was a great sight, it shined under the falling sun and I'm glad I got to see it. The rest of the grounds were stunning too, as are all temples in Japan. On the way back to Momo's, I tried to see Kyoto Imperial park but the light had gone by the time I got there. Not to worry, I genuinely see myself back in Japan, to see more of the mainland, the islands and to climb mount Fuji.
Momo had made Japanese curry for lunch and made enough so we had a large portion each in the evening. Again, I was forced into seconds! Do I have a tshirt saying I love curry? Well, it tasted awesome and I was very greatful to Momo! It's funny, in the evening we hung out, I did some blogging, skyping while Momo was studying. It was like we had been friends for a long time, every now and then one of us would turn to the other and say something funny. A very Intelligent girl with a great sense of humour a a great sense of adventure! In the evening we walked around the city to find me a cheap bullet ticket, for some reason, a ticket office in a department store is a third less than the train station and cheaper still by taking the smoking carriage!
Sadly it was this night that I read the breaking news about Gary Speed. My heart dropped and my initial raction was 'no!'. A sad loss for football, thoughts go out to his wife, two kids and family. Very sad.
My train wasn't till early afternoon the next day, so we had another lie in and she still wouldn't let me sleep on the floor!
The Japanese people are so kind, so generous and so very interesting. I'm proud to say I have a friend in Momo and Yasumasa.
Next morning, Momo cycled to my subway stop and we said goodbye. I grabbed some snacks for the bullet train and found my platform.
Next stop, Tokyo, well, sort of. I'm staying in Kawasaki.