AsiaJapanKyoto

Spending the day with a travbuddy in Japan

Kyoto Travel Blog

 › entry 17 of 34 › view all entries
Through the massive gate to Nisha and Higashi Hongan-ji temples, the Amida Buddha Hall can be seen through the gate
I had arranged with a travbuddy (ys484) Yuiko in Japan several months before the trip to meet up in Kyoto. She had to take a day off and because she didn't live in Kyoto, she had to take the bullet train to come to Kyoto to meet us, so it was an even more special meet up! Since our hotel was right on top of the subway station, we arranged to meet in the lobby of the hotel.

We had no problem recognizing each other! We decided to just walk to the sights closest to where we were instead of exploring the ones which would require a bus or subway ride. Right down the street from the train station was Nishi and Higashi Hongan-ji Temples. We could see the roof of a big temple as we wallked toward it.
one of the massive gate to Nisha and Higashi Hongan-ji temples
There was a big and traditional gate which we entered,  we then saw a nice and large temple in front of us. But to the right of it was an ugly industrial looking scaffolding. We were wondering why they would allow such a thing to be next to a graceful and obviously ancient temple. Then we saw some signs on the fences near the scaffolding, ah, so this was not an ugly intrusion but was a temporary building which covered the entire 2nd temple as it was being restored. We felt much better after reading the signs. The two temples (higashi=east and nishi=west) were almost identical, the Founder's Hall is supposed to be the largest wooden structures in the world, at 76m wide, 58m deep and 38m high! The one we could see from the gate was certainly large and impressive, but was actually the smaller Amida Buddha Hall (52m wide, 47m deep and 29m high).
The Amida Buddha Hall, the smaller of the two temples, is merely 29m tall!
We had to take off our shoes to go inside, but we weren't sure if we were supposed to take our shoes with us so we didn't.

In the Amida Buddha Hall, there was a session of lecturing going on. Or maybe it was not just a lecture, but a sharing of life experience? The speaker was at a podium farther inside, and on the tatami were perhaps a dozen people sitting there listening. So we did not feel like we should disrupt whatever was going on. We walked around the big hall and then followed a path which lead us away, and eventually to the Founder's Hall which was undergoing restoration. There were some interesting museum pieces on display in the hallways. One of them was a big rope made from human hair! And there were some primitive sleds which were used to move the large trees from the mountains to here for the construction of the temples.
a corner of the Amida Buddha Hall with the rain drainage
We walked all the way around and realized we should have taken our shoes with us, so we had to back track and come all the way back to where we entere. Oh well, nice walk though.

Then we started walking east in Kyoto toward the famous Kiyomizu Temple. Passing a bridge over the Kamo River, we saw an egret and a heron on the river.The area we were headed called Eastern Gion and the Higashiyama (eastern mountains) was outside of the old Kyoto city  proper and because it was separated and thus protected by the river Kamo, when Kyoto had several devasting fires over the years, this area was spared. It was considered to be the most charming and unspoiled.

Kept going, just before turning on Higashiyama-dori. We saw a sign for Sanjusangen-do Temple.
The front of the Amida Buddha Hall
Since it was one of the point of interest we read about, we went in for a look. Well, it was certainly an experience to be remembered. Basically we went into a very long hall of a temple, with signs saying no photography. So we don't have any photos to show. But as we entered the hall, we saw ten rows of standing golden buddhas. Looking to the left, we saw more of them. In fact, it was impossible to describe what we saw. We wallked and saw more, and more and more. In the front row were some different figures from buddhist stories, all were very lively and well made art pieces. And we kept wallking, thinking we had reached the middle of the hall, but no, we were only 1/4 way in. This turned out to be  the longest room we had ever seen, and there were 1001 standing buddhas there! The book I had described it as "the effect was magical, and a bit eerie".
Roof of Amida Buddha Hall
I think it was definitely magical and other worldly, and everyone's jaw had to be picked up from the floor as soon as we went in. This temple dates from the 12th century, and was the longest wooden structure in the world. The real center of the room had a large 1000 armed Kannon (Chinese name would be Kwen-yin) statue, and the 1000 smaller ones also were carved in the 1000 armed image (this was not a literal count of the arms).

The monks who used to live here used the veranda of the hall as an archery practice range. Even now, every year before the coming-of-age Day, an archery contest is held for young women here. The back side of the hall was a long museum show room, including old arrows, bows and caligraphy. We walked around in the gardens for a while and admired the vermillion gate as well as some cherry blossoms before  leaving.
sign showing the damages found and how they are doing the restoration
I would highly recommend anyone visiting Kyoto to see this temple because it is so unique.

We turned on Hagashiyama-dori and found a restaurant to have a quick lunch. Then we turned into an alley in the direction of the Kiyomizu Temple. We wanted to explore some of the stone-paved roads which were preserved districts. And soon we found the streets. They looked really charming, with a lot of people walking and shops lining both sides. What's more special here was the frequent sighting of kimono-dressed women. Usually there would be 2 together, we also saw man and woman couples in Japanese traditional clothings. Some were just wearing the kimonos, but others were really decked out with proper shoes and hairdos and makeup. It was really interesting and added to the charm and flavor of this area.
the Founder's Hall is covered during restoration
We walked to the Yasaka Pagoda, the tall five story pagoda which was the only remaining structure of an old buddhist temple here. The pagoda was closed for the day though, so we walked the stone paved streets again, this time all the way to Kiyomizu Temple.

Kiyomizu Temple had been a destination for pilgrims for more than 1000 years! There were many  buildings in the temple area. The main hall and temple was a very large wooden structure sort of built on stilts, from the veranda you can see a long way down. We walked around the temple, stopping to look at Kyoto city down below in the distance. We were even able to spot the Kyoto tower which was across from the train station, and saw how far we had walked.

Walking down the hill, we saw a couple of really charming women dressed in Geisha fashion and were having a photographer taking their pictures.
Another view of the Amida Buddha Hall
I don't know if they were tourists dressed up or locals.

Thinking it would be too long of a walk back to the train station, we tried to take a local bus. All the buses going to the train station from the area were fully packed by this time, but we were able to squeeze in one of them and rode back to the train station. It turned out we were still a bit early for Yuiko's train back home, so we found a place in the train station building and chatted until it was time for her to get on her train. It was a very nice day and experience to have a travbuddy with us.



portia says:
yeah! we had a great time and the great 1001 buddha temple was a good surprise.
Posted on: Apr 19, 2008
sylviandavid says:
That meet up sounded fun and had a great adventure with the buddha hall...
Posted on: Apr 19, 2008
portia says:
thanks! it's true. Keep reading about my meeting and traveling with deats in Taiwan a few days later!
Posted on: Apr 15, 2008
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Through the massive gate to Nisha …
Through the massive gate to Nisha…
one of the massive gate to Nisha a…
one of the massive gate to Nisha …
The Amida Buddha Hall, the smaller…
The Amida Buddha Hall, the smalle…
a corner of the Amida Buddha Hall …
a corner of the Amida Buddha Hall…
The front of the Amida Buddha Hall
The front of the Amida Buddha Hall
Roof of Amida Buddha Hall
Roof of Amida Buddha Hall
sign showing the damages found and…
sign showing the damages found an…
the Founders Hall is covered duri…
the Founder's Hall is covered dur…
Another view of the Amida Buddha H…
Another view of the Amida Buddha …
Kevin and an old sled used to carr…
Kevin and an old sled used to car…
A sign next to the big hair rope s…
A sign next to the big hair rope …
a door in the hall somewhere
a door in the hall somewhere
A sign describing the Founders Ha…
A sign describing the Founder's H…
The path between the two halls
The path between the two halls
Detail of steps
Detail of steps
A large lantern in front of the Am…
A large lantern in front of the A…
In front of the Amida Buddha Hall,…
In front of the Amida Buddha Hall…
As we left, people were feeding th…
As we left, people were feeding t…
an egret on the bank of Kamo River
an egret on the bank of Kamo River
A heron in the middle of the Kamo …
A heron in the middle of the Kamo…
View of Kamo River
View of Kamo River
Ticket for Sanjusangen-do Temple
Ticket for Sanjusangen-do Temple
The short end of the Sanjusangen…
The "short" end of the Sanjusange…
Brochure showing one of the protec…
Brochure showing one of the prote…
another statue of protector on the…
another statue of protector on th…
so you get an idea of that it look…
so you get an idea of that it loo…
This is the big Kannon statue in t…
This is the big Kannon statue in …
An gate in the garden of Sanjusang…
An gate in the garden of Sanjusan…
top of the gate in the garden
top of the gate in the garden
To give you a feel of how long thi…
To give you a feel of how long th…
the long temple of Sanjusangen-do …
the long temple of Sanjusangen-do…
a vermillion colored gate in the g…
a vermillion colored gate in the …
We enjoyed the blossoms when we co…
We enjoyed the blossoms when we c…
The middle section of the Sanjusan…
The middle section of the Sanjusa…
The middle section of the Sanjusan…
The middle section of the Sanjusa…
some trees in the garden
some trees in the garden
Kevin, me and yuiko in the garden …
Kevin, me and yuiko in the garden…
Detail of the vermillion gate
Detail of the vermillion gate
A straight on view of the middle s…
A straight on view of the middle …
a detailed look at the beautiful r…
a detailed look at the beautiful …
A beautiful nail cover plate at Sa…
A beautiful nail cover plate at S…
through the gate, looking into ano…
through the gate, looking into an…
detail of roof decoration
detail of roof decoration
okonomiyaki, a meat and vegetable …
okonomiyaki, a meat and vegetable…
what it looked like inside
what it looked like inside
view of a random building in the e…
view of a random building in the …
a latticed gate, and a piece of pa…
a latticed gate, and a piece of p…
This one has 5 dog signs. We ask…
This one has 5 "dog" signs. We as…
inside a store in the stone paved …
inside a store in the stone paved…
street scene
street scene
people painting the  Yasaka Pagoda…
people painting the Yasaka Pagod…
power lines and Yasaka Pagoda
power lines and Yasaka Pagoda
a view of the Yasaka Pagoda, which…
a view of the Yasaka Pagoda, whic…
Another view toward the Yasaka Pag…
Another view toward the Yasaka Pa…
street scene, eastern Gion
street scene, eastern Gion
women in Kimonos on the street of …
women in Kimonos on the street of…
view into a small shrine from the …
view into a small shrine from the…
fans for sale
fans for sale
a large flower arrangement
a large flower arrangement
a view of the ugly power lines
a view of the ugly power lines
a kyoto maiko (apprentice geisha),…
a kyoto maiko (apprentice geisha)…
And she is well made up on the nap…
And she is well made up on the na…
stone paved street in the traditio…
stone paved street in the traditi…
women in kimono, streets of easter…
women in kimono, streets of easte…
streets of eastern Gion
streets of eastern Gion
women in kimono
women in kimono
more women in kimono, not sure if …
more women in kimono, not sure if…
kimono women walked by
kimono women walked by
a couple in kimonos
a couple in kimonos
tickets to Kiyomisu temple
tickets to Kiyomisu temple
entrance to Kiyomisu temple
entrance to Kiyomisu temple
nice pretty cherry blossoms on the…
nice pretty cherry blossoms on th…
Japanese kids start early with the…
Japanese kids start early with th…
pretty flowers
pretty flowers
Kevin at the entrance to Kiyomizu …
Kevin at the entrance to Kiyomizu…
steps going up to Kiyomizu temple
steps going up to Kiyomizu temple
Bell tower
Bell tower
look back toward the gate
look back toward the gate
stone lanterns
stone lanterns
one of the first buildings at Kiyo…
one of the first buildings at Kiy…
wish granted board at Kiyomizu tem…
wish granted board at Kiyomizu te…
many structures in the Kiyomiza te…
many structures in the Kiyomiza t…
a couple of nice rooflines
a couple of nice rooflines
getting the pure water
getting the pure water
taking photos of the big temple be…
taking photos of the big temple b…
lantern in the temple
lantern in the temple
one of the halls in the temple
one of the halls in the temple
another lantern
another lantern
praying to ...
praying to ...
this statue...
this statue...
ringing this big bowl for good luc…
ringing this big bowl for good lu…
praying at the temple, and a nice …
praying at the temple, and a nice…
high up at Kiyomizu temple overloo…
high up at Kiyomizu temple overlo…
The temple and stage is very high!
The temple and stage is very high!
a small temple in the back
a small temple in the back
sadly these statues with red bibs …
sadly these statues with red bibs…
they have a lot of pretty lanterns…
they have a lot of pretty lantern…
a buddha statue is shiny from all …
a buddha statue is shiny from all…
Kiyomizu temple, leaping off the s…
Kiyomizu temple, leaping off the …
kevin and I at Kiyomizu Temple
kevin and I at Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu temple on the hill
Kiyomizu temple on the hill
more purifying water
more purifying water
women in kimono and makeup being p…
women in kimono and makeup being …
Kyoto train station interior
Kyoto train station interior
Kyoto train station interior
Kyoto train station interior
looking up in Kyoto train station
looking up in Kyoto train station
Kevin and I at the Kyoto train sta…
Kevin and I at the Kyoto train st…
Kyoto
photo by: ys484