Day 8: ... more temples in Kyoto in the afternoon

Trip Start Apr 08, 2010
Trip End May 06, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Friday, April 16, 2010

We arrived at Kyoto station around 13:00 and thus we had plenty of time to continue our visit of the city. We decided to go to the western part of Kyoto again, which is really full of treasures, and to make our first stop at Arashiyama.

To go there, the fastest way when you have a JR pass is to take the San-in line in Kyoto station. A local train will drop you at Saga Arashiyama station. From there, we walked to Tenryu-ji temple which is famous for its zen garden. Despite the rain, we wandered through the narrow paths of this beautiful place.

 We then took the north exit of the temple, and reached the bamboo forest of Arashiyama and the all path going through it. Walking along this path among giant bamboos is really impressive, and you do feel in deep nature.
For the record, this place has greatly inspired the bamboo forest depicted in Ang Lee's movie "Tiger and Dragon" (2000).
We then made a quick stop in a convenient store (see post to come on this subject) to by Pocky boxes (see post to come on this topic too !), before taking to buses (11 and 59) taking us to Ryoan-ji temple. This temple was very close to Ninna-ji we had visited a few days earlier, but we did not have time to stop there by lack of time.

 You enter Ryoan-ji by a gigantic park, with charming ponds and beautiful cherry trees. Ryoan-ji temple itself is very famous for its rock garden in Kare-sansui style (dry garden). Only 15 rocks in this garden, on a sea of sculpted gravel. The author of this garden in unknown and he left no explanation, but he clearly did not dispose the rocks randomly, and this scenery invites you to meditation.
Ryoan-ji is one the most famous temples in Kyoto, and is often overcrowded. We strongly advise to come here, as we did, just before it closes.
We then took bus number 12 to Gion, the famous neighborhood of Kyoto so famous for its Geishas. Gion is on the east side of the river and is actually the "old Kyoto". Many nice old houses and buildings, and mot of all, a few very typical streets. By chance we managed to meet several geishas while hanging around in the south part of Gion. It is supposingly difficult to meet them, but we must have been at the right place at the right time ;-) Moreover, April is the period of the year when they give show in Gion's theaters. Hence they might be easier to meet. Anyway, they completely fit the representation we had in mind, from the make up to the umbrella and shoes. So unreal ! 
We then headed to the north part of Gion. It is filled with very attractive restaurants, most of them having terraces over the small river. We happened to cross a restaurant which was serving Kobe beef. 160,000 yens for one steak :-o !! This meat is supposed to be the best in Japan. We might taste it before we leave the country, but certainly not here !!

Eventually we took a last bus to K's House and had dinner there after a "Convini stop"!

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