Kyoto

Arrived in Kyoto from Kanazawa mid afternoon after travelling on the interestingly named limited express ‘Thunderbird’. After a visit to the ever helpful Tourist Information Centre we took the subway two stops to place us within a five minute walk of our hotel the Court Hotel. After checking in we decided to go for an orientation walk of the area to the east which was apparently the main shopping and Nishiki market area. After a good look around we ate at Ippūdō, a ramen restaurant. Delicious noodles and a very lively atmosphere. Headed back to our hotel and slept on a pretty comfortable bed by Japanese standards.

The next morning after a buffet breakfast of a mixture of Japanese and Western breakfast items we took the bus out to the north west so we could check out the Golden Pavilion at the Kinkaku-ji temple complex. As you can see it is quite stunning. To take a photo without a tourist jumping in the way was a little tricky as there were hundreds, if not thousands, trying to all do the same thing or take a ‘selfie’ of themselves with the Golden Pavilion in the background.

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After admiring it and managing some good shots we moved around the garden with the hordes of other visitors.

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At the actual temple itself there were a multitude of stalls selling amulets and food and drink. We decided to move on. The reputed stone garden at Ryōan-ji awaited. It was a bit further to walk to than we originally thought but after about half an hour we arrived. After paying our entry fee we made our way to the small seating area from which you could see the whole courtyard rock garden.

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Only fifteen rocks sitting amidst a sea of raked white gravel but quite beautiful.

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Totally different to bush gardens in Australia or formal French or English gardens.

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A green contrast could be found close by in a different part of the temple gardens.

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The small lake was also wonderful and peaceful to walk around.

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From there we intended to walk to Ninna-ji temple. As we came to an area where we thought we must be near we came upon the delightful Rengeji temple with a row of five Buddhas at the front in the garden. It had been founded as a temple back in 1057 but the one we were seeing was a restored one dating back to 1928.

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After a brief look we continued on and found Ninna-ji just a few minutes around the next corner. The entry gate was massive.

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We wondered how welcome we would be when we saw this.

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However on lining up at the counter we were soon pleased to discover that due to preparations for a festival the entry fee had been waived for the day and it was free to enter the gardens and the external passages of the temple complex but not to enter the buildings themselves. We found ourselves in relative peace with only a few others looking around and the gardens were lovely.

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Again we had the contrast between a dry garden and one with a pond.

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Even though we couldn’t go in we could still see inside to the beautiful paintings on the screens.

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As we were leaving a group of monks came out and made their way up to the main temple.

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It had certainly been a stroke of luck to visit this temple on a quiet day and enjoy the beautiful gardens in relative solitude. We made our way through the local streets gaining a bit of a feel for suburban Kyoto. As we waited for a bus back to the city centre we were impressed by this garden opposite the bus stop. Great use of pots when they were limited to such a small space.

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A late afternoon rest prepared us for the evening. We walked all the way past shops and through the Nishiki market then over the river down to Gion. This busy temple was beautifully lit.

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We came back to a very busy, crowded little lane with many restaurants.

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After queuing for some time we gained a place on the bar at this popular restaurant. Turned out it was Chinese, not Japanese.

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Sadly the portion sizes for anything other than a hot pot meal were underwhelming. Ah well, you can’t have a great meal every night can you?

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