I just got back to Okazaki from Kyoto, and today was great.
Sun! Beautiful sun!
I dumped my luggage in a locker at the station, and talked to the very helpful ladies on the 9th floor of Kyoto Station in the tourist office: by all means, go there.
Try to get to Kyoto well before 6 p.m. and use that office. They’ll tell you how to get around, they’ll give you maps and all kinds of useful information. They’ll even hook you up with a cheap hotel, if you need one. It would have saved me so much headache if I had gone there first on Thursday night, but it was closed.
The best thing they taught me was how to ride the buses in Kyoto. Generally, it’s cheaper to get an all-day ticket if you’re going to ride more than one bus. The fare covers the route, not the distance traveled, so the fares are all the same.
I took a crowded bus to Kinkakuji, which was incredible (it’s also called the Golden Pavilion, if you’re scoring at home), then I walked to Ryoanji to see the impressive Zen rock gardens there.
Kinkakuji is a gorgeous temple. First, the golden pavilion itself is stunning:
Asking people to take your picture is kind of risky. Not that they’ll steal your camera, but that they won’t be able to figure out how to get you in focus:
Not that I was looking all that dapper, anyway.
The crowd waiting to take pictures:
This one came out really nice:
Here’s where I would put the rocking chairs and wave back at the crowds:
And here’s a shot of the back:
I figured out what everyone does with their 1 and 5 yen coins. They throw them here:
And here is where you pray:
At Kinkakuji, I bought some souvenirs, then spied a Haagen-Dazs vending machine, and purchased an almond-vanilla bar.
I finally sucked up my courage and got an omikuji (it’s a fortune they sell at shrines.)– I drew a shoukichi— which means I’ll have a little luck. That’s fine for me. Friday I would have pulled a daikyou— big bad luck. No thanks.
The Road to Ryoan-ji
Ryoan-ji is pretty close to Kinkakuji. It’s about a 15 minute walk away, and definitely worth it.
I started by going down this road:
I saw these flowers by a utility pole. I guess they do roadside memorials in Japan as well.
I passed a place that had a lot of those stone (or maybe concrete?) statues that I’ve seen a lot:
Lots of moss on the walls. It was really pretty:
I thought this garage door was cool.
Ryoan-ji is gorgeous in a different way from Kinkakuji. It’s a wonderful contrast between the two temples. Kinkakuji is hectic and crowded, while Ryoan-ji feels more tranquil.
There’s a large pond, or a small lake on the temple grounds, and it’s very nice to look at.
There’s a small island on the lake, and a small shrine on the island:
Here is the place where you wash your hands and mouth to purify yourself:
As you enter the main building where the rock garden is, you have to take off your shoes. Then as you enter, there are two really stunning pieces of calligraphy:
And then you come to the famous Zen rock garden:
Of course it’s crowded. It’s pretty famous:
I went around the back of the main building, looked at some of the other scenery. I really liked this water feature:
Here’s a shot of the rooms around the rock garden. There were a lot of really pretty screens on the walls:
On the way out, you walk around a lot of the grounds again, about a 15 minute walk. I thought this Japanese maple tree was especially pretty:
Persimmons and ducks on the way out:
Back to the Station (More Kyoto Station Photos!)
Back at Kyoto Station, I took some more photos. The Kyoto Tower, reflected on the side of the station:
One of the main facades of the station:
Inside the station, things are hectic on a Sunday!
Going up to the roof.
Roof detail. I love detail shots.
Here’s a panorama I took of the roof area.
Look! Another band! I’m a old band nerd, so I’m always happy to see kids learning to perform music:
While I was at the station, I made some hotel reservations with the help of the Welcome Inn people at the tourist office on the 9th floor. I got a room for 6,300 yen a night for the 26th, 27th, and 28th. That’s a weekend in October. Amazing. I couldn’t find anything available on my own.
October is leaf-viewing season, so it gets booked up here pretty fast.
Next weekend, I’m going back to visit all the places I couldn’t get to, like Gion, Arashiyama, Eiga Mura (it’s the cinema village they use to shoot samurai dramas… I want to see it if time permits), plus I want to look at some handicraft stuff.
After that I’ll go to Nara, Hiroshima, Beppu, Osaka, and then we’ll see.
I’m up to over 1,050 photos so far.
And I have learned a ton about traveling.
Rick Steves was right. You are always carrying too much crap.
You can always find one thing to get rid of.
Two bags is one bag too many. Three bags is insanity.
Digital anything is great.
Now I’m going to take a shower, go to ZigZag, then do some laundry.