Spending the day with a travbuddy in Japan
Kyoto Travel Blog› entry 17 of 34 › view all entries
March 18th, 2008 – by: portia
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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