The Philosopher's Walk

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 14, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Monday, September 3, 2012

The alarm went off at 8 and Al popped town to the local boulangerie to buy bread rolls with cheese baked with cheese and ham inside and a pain de raisin to share while Deb made tea and after this we mozeyed down to the motor bike parking lot, paid our 250 yen and headed off on our touring for the day.

We went north one and a half blocks to the Imperial Palace & Gardens which is huge - 800m by 1,5km with several hundred acres of gardens with wide gravel paths. It's ok but you can’t get into the palace so we didn’t waste any more time on it and at the north headed east along Imadegawa dori (street) and after about 5 km came out at the northern end of the Philosopher’s Walk.

This trail follows a stream that runs from north to south down the east side of Kyoto along the base of the mountains, from Ginkakuji temple, known as the Silver Pavilion, past Honen-in, and a couple of other temples & shrines that we never stopped at, onto Eikando temple. The 2km long path is named after a Japanese philosopher and Kyoto University professor who used to walk this path and meditate. It is quite delightful, and made more pleasant as the hundreds of Japanese tourists at the start at Ginkakuji don’t make it very far. We gippo'ed it a bit by doing it on our moto in spite of the signs showing it is only for walkers and bicycles. In some places the leaves are changing to autumn colours which must be lovely in autumn, but in spring it must be magnificent with the cherry trees that line the stream all in blossom. Our favourite was Honen-in, a beautiful secluded temple with a thatched gate & raised zen garden designs with a history dating back to 1192 and an interesting cemetery. The ceiling of the current temple was built using floorboards from Fushimi castle after a historical battle in 1692 and the bloodstains are still evident.  We enjoyed seeing the Japanese suburbs around this area, although they were very quiet. Maybe all the people were at school & work.

Next on our itinerary was to find Kyoto station and buy our train tickets to Osaka for tomorrow. We found it, but not without a couple of wrong turns. The roads are in a grid with north south roads being numbered, but some are very similar and there are main roads, ordinary roads and small roads all with the same name and a word tacked on the end so it’s easy to take the wrong one. Once in the wrong road, it is difficult to get back to where you are supposed to be as the roads are busy and the blocks about a km long with several small one-ways and pedestrian roads in between. Again the problem of finding where to park as they don’t seem to encourage motor cycles, and there is very little parking for them and no parking on any of the roads, but we found a bicycle parking area and took a chance parking there.

Instead of battling the language issue, we bought our tickets using a ticket machine that had an English option and got to choose our own seats – two next to each other with no space for smelly locals, and in the back row of the front carriage so we have space for our luggage behind our seats. Well that’s the theory. We’ll see how it turns out tomorrow.

The station building is modern and magnificent, with a huge department store underneath and around it covering 14 floors. The central area is very impressive but on one side it goes up in steps for 12 stories with a bamboo garden at the top and views over Kyoto. The entire building is in pink & grey granite, glass & stainless steel. We bought rolls from the department store bakery and took escalators to the roof to eat it.

It was looking like rain so we took the motor bike back to the rental company across town and after giving us a present, the guy took us a couple of blocks and got us a taxi. As we drove off it started to rain – maybe because we had a woman taxi driver.

After a shower we had a walk around the old narrow lanes around the hotel and ended up at Paddy-san’s restaurant for another round of yakitori & kushikatsu which Al washed down with a bottle of saki. Because we were such customers Paddy-san sent us a Japanese desert after we had paid. It was a type of sorbet which they explained was made out of a cross between an orange & a lemon.

We have loved Kyoto and could well be back.
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