Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kyoto: our last full day

Today was a full day of walking. We ventured out of the hotel around 10:00, walked past Nijo castle, and hopped a JR train at Nijo station. We got off two stops later when we were closer to a couple of the temples we wanted to see today: Ryoanji (the rock garden temple) and Kinkakuji (the golden temple).
After getting off the train we promptly found ourselves “lost” but with our Kyoto map, we managed to get back on track and we found a great restaurant for lunch run by a man with great English who had honeymooned in B.C. and Alberta 25 years ago.

We first came across Ryoanji temple which is famous for its Zen rock garden which has fifteen large rocks “expertly placed” on a bed of raked gravel. After seeing the photos of the garden, we had built up our expectations and were somewhat underwhelmed by the rock garden portion. Perpendicular to the rock garden was a moss garden which we found more beautiful. The hoards of tourists made it hard to feel Zen. Even more gorgeous were the ponds with lily pads and beautiful trees that mimicked the hills, behind the garden. There were turtles, mandarin ducks, and carp in the pond. This more understated part of the garden was far more beautiful.

After Ryoanji, we moseyed down the road to Kinkakuji: the famous golden temple. It was very beautiful, but we felt a little like cattle as one could not stray from the path and explore the gardens. It was also very busy. We came to the conclusion that these temples would be much more peaceful (or actually peaceful) if there were no tourists.

We had an ice cream and headed across the street to view some of the local artisan shops and then decided to walk back to our hotel by way of the Imperial Palace gardens. We found a ramen noodle dinner along the way and strolled through the Imperial gardens enjoying the sunset on our way back to the hotel. By this time we had been on our feet for the better part of eight hours, so we were in much need of putting up our feet.  Watching the Japanese news, we deciphered that it was about 36 degrees Celsius (98 Fahrenheit) today, which did not surprise us as it felt like it was sweltering.

Tomorrow we leave Kyoto and visit Hiroshima for two nights. We plan on seeing the Miyajima temple and touring the peace park.


The Golden Temple

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace Gardens

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