The Golden Pavilion
Through Sunrise Tours, we had booked a 3 day excursion from Tokyo
to Mt. Fuji and Hakone, ending in Kyoto
. Today was the second day of the tour, and our destinations today were to visit parts of Kyoto in the morning, and in the afternoon take a trip to nearby Nara
. The morning tour began with a visit to the Nijo Castle, where the Shogun lived. We had the opportunity to see inside some of the rooms and to experience the "nightingale floors". These were floorboards located near the entrance of the castle that would sing like a bird whenever someone walked on the floor. It was explained to us that iron boards rubbing against iron nails caused the sound, and it was designed as an alarm system for intruders.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Our second stop was at the Golden Pavilion. This was quite a remarkable sight to see - it was very beautiful! The pavilion stood on a lake, and it was encased in gold leaves, and with the sun hitting it just right - what a sight! We walked around the property for awhile and enjoyed being outside in nature. As we were leaving, we passed what looked like an indentation of a star in the side of the mountain, and the tour guide explained that it was used for the ceremony on the Day of the Dead. The area was used to burn wood in memory of those who had passed. I tried to get a picture of it from the bus, but it was next to impossible to get a clear shot. Oh well.
Our third stop was to visit part of the Imperial Palace. I say part because they are very strict and you only have a certain amount of time to walk around, and they tell you what path to take.
Looking out eastwards from the Kyoto Tower
They also yell at you if you "linger" too long at any area, they want you in and out of the place as quickly as possible. We even had to enter the palace grounds in four straight lines, after they counted us and confirmed the number of people that were in our group. It was quite an interesting experience, that's for sure! The morning part of the tour ended with a buffet lunch at the Kyoto Handicraft Center, where I was ecstatic to be able to purchase a kimono for my friend. I was very tempted to purchase one for myself, but I took so long in choosing one for my friend that I hardly had enough time to pay for the kimono and get back for the afternoon tour to Nara.