Tuesday 9th October
Today was meant to be a day of touring at a more relaxed pace since we had an extra day to play with, of course that didnt mean any less walking and 11kms later our feet were letting us know they had had enough.
We went to the information place in Kyoto Station and bought two one-day bus passes. they are worth 500yen - each bus trip regardless of distance is worth 220yen so it doesnt take much to get your moneys worth. We only used it 3 times but that was still better than having to find change all the time. It is limited to a certain area within Kyoto but that is more than enough area to cover a huge number of temples and shrines, more than you could possibly go to even in a week.
Our first stop was Kinkakuji Temple or more commonly known as The Golden Pavilion. Wow, it is beautiful. the girls had both told us to go and see it and it was amazing. You only walk around it but really that is enough. You walk straight through the entrance, down a small path and there it is. None of this walking for miles and miles. It is gold foil on lacquer on the two upper levels topped with a golden phoenix. It is a buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. You meander back to the entrance via gardens and past a teahouse where we stopped to try the green tea, which looked like frothy green milkshake but tasted nothing like that, and a small square sugar cake filled with red bean. You take a bite of the cake and then the tea. Super sweet and then bitter. Not something Id called enjoyable but an experience all the same.
There was a temple, Rokuon-ji Temple, within the complex too. It contains a stone Buddha which is kept hidden from public view. Most of these temples with Buddhas dont allow photos so its a look and see but in this case, a look and no see. Had my fortune printed out of a machine labelled in English for 100 yen, about $1.20. It said if you got an excellent, very good or good fortune that you kept it and all others you tied to a designated area. Mine was Fairly Good, but I kept it anyway as it made me laugh. For the LOVE section it said Give up.
We then walked 20 minutes down the road to the Ryoanji Temple. It houses a zen Rock Garden, 25 x 10 metres, of 15 rocks on white gravel. Apparently it is internationall famous, said to be created around 1500 by a zen monk. The walls are made of clay boiled in oil. Over the years the oil has seeped out and created the designs on the walls. So many people just sitting and looking at it. This place was on 220 acres and had beautiful gardens and a huge pond. Very peaceful and cool walking through, more than it was looking at the rock garden in the hot sun with all those others.
Headed further down the road to the next place the information lady had recommended but we werent very impressed with it when we got there. Looked like another temple like the others and we were feeling we had seen enough. Across the road looked more interesting with 5 large buddhas in a row so we wandered through there before heading back the way we came to catch another bus.
Bus was rather crowded and I gave my seat up to an older lady. She was quite chuffed and when we got of the bus she was waving goodbye to me with a big smile on her face.
On the morning trip out we had passed this huge place, Nijo Castle, so that was the next destination. Built in 1603 contains 2 palaces and garden. The Ninomaru Palace had nightingale floors built around the circumference of the rooms. Anyone trying to sneak into the castle would be heard. They were amazing to walk on and sounded just like birds chirping. Didnt matter how hard I tried to tiptoe, they still chirped. When a whole crowd walked through it was like a flock of birds. Major restoration is underway and has been going on for many years. The place is huge. Gold backed painting on all the walls are slowly being recoloured and light is restricted to keep them from fading. No photos allowed inside.
Outside you walked a bridge over a huge moat to Honmaru Palace. This was not open to the public but plenty to walk around and enjoy in the gardens.
Home after another busy day. Enjoyed a rather late lunch thanks to the food store in Kyoto Station, beer and salads and french stick.
Extra photo of sorts of food samples each shop has in its window. Very good to give you an idea if its what you want to eat.