First Day Successfully Traversing Kyoto Station

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Thursday, August 19, 2010

I can’t believe it is 8 pm already.  I am here ready to do my computer thing but
there is no internet access.  I have had
to go down to make the a/c work for the past 2 nights so I will hold off for
awhile on the internet.  I meant to be up and out early but it was nearly 10 am
before I was out.  I got to the bus
station without too much difficulty and took the #100 to the end of the line –
the Ginkakuji temple.  I got off and
followed the crowd to the temple grounds
It was a lovely landscaped garden. 
It is amazing how it has been created to make beautiful views everywhere
you look = the smallest details all fit to make it perfect.  There is a mound of sand in one of the Zen
gardens that represents Mt Fuji.  Very
cool.  I loved seeing the gardeners at
work in their uniforms sweeping the moss and clipping the shrubbery.  It was all picture perfect and I must have
taken hundreds of photos.  From here, I had a little bit of difficulty following the
guidebook to the next part of a self-guided walk:-  the philosophers path.  This path followed the course of a canal with
a stone path most of the way.  This was
how I imagined Kyoto would be – minus the cherry blossoms that I wouldn’t
expect in August.  It took me much longer
than the allotted 30 minutes because I stopped at every bridge to take a
photo.  Plus there were interesting
houses along the way and a few young women walking with umbrellas – all very picturesque.  I followed this path until I got to the
Nanzenji Temple.  I missed another one
along the way but that wasn’t one of Anne’s or Frommer’s highly recommended
choices so I wasn’t worried.
The Nanzenji Temple had several features  all of which required a separate entrance fee.  First I climbed up to the second story of the
large gate.  It was impressive for the
size of the pieces of wood that went into its construction.  We had to take off our shoes and carry them
in the plastic bags provided to us.  The
stairs were very steep.  It is odd the
things one remembers the most out of very special historical monuments.  The second feature I visited was the
Nanzen-in, the Emperor’s vacation house
It had a lovely garden surrounding a pond – all with incredible
vistas.  I don’t know how they control
the lighting so that there are always maples highlighted by the sun and
rippling water.  After questioning a woman
from Spain and a young woman from Taiwan who both spoke English, I managed to
find the Hoji Garden on my own by going back to the map and following it to the
Nanzenji Temple.  The garden was a Zen
garden more or less viewed from indoors. 
We walked – shoeless carrying our shoes in plastic bags – around a
wooden platform and viewed the various parts of the garden.  It was beautiful.  There were the stones or trees with sand
raked around, the running and trickling water and one tree with gorgeous pink
clusters of flowers backlit by the sun and framed by pines and the tiled roofs
of the buildings.  Occasionally there was
a gong or the sound of some music.
By now it was around 4 and I began to think about food.  I had passed the Frommer recommended rest
stop for restaurants so I opted to forge ahead on the walking tour knowing that
I wouldn’t be able to see anything else because things close at 5.  I only made half of the sights.  Oh, well. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I did get to see.  This part of the walk was a little trickier
to follow so I asked a young couple for directions.  They got out their map and sent me on my
way.  After a little bit, they called me
over at a map on the side of the street and gave me some new directions.  It was actually pretty easy now to follow
Frommer’s along the Biwa canal.  I got to
see a super large ORANGE torii gate and bridge railings.  From here I passed the art museum and the
museum for traditional crafts that I do want to visit.  Maybe tomorrow.  I got to a major street, looked for the bus
stop, read which one went to Kyoto Station and off I went.  I was beginning to feel more confident about
getting around Kyoto.  The bus was packed
since it was rush hour.  I got to check
out the young Japanese women’s fashion statements pretty close up.  One young woman was feeling up her boyfriend
or maybe she was just using him as her means of staying upright.  Who knows?  I made it to Kyoto Station. 
And I made it around Kyoto Station to get to my street – all without
mishap.  Then I went in search of a
restaurant.  My ryokan map had a few
places on it so I wanted to try one.  It
took awhile for me to determine where to go. 
I finally chose a place and was quite delighted….also stuffed, because
in the confusion of ordering, I ordered twice so I had assorted fried skewered
things and assorted sashimi.  The sashimi
was the best raw fish I have ever had = melt in your mouth, to use that trite
expression.  It came on something like a
cake plate with crunchy things, peanuts and what looked like corn flakes.  I was eating away and then the waiter/chef
told me to mix it up.  The taste was
entirely different now – there was an enhancement.  I washed all this food down with 2 beers
today.  Somehow the first one disappeared
and I had a whole lot of food left over. 
Eventually it all disappeared too.  The end of a great day….no major mix-ups except for getting
twice as much food for dinner….and that wasn’t really so bad.

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