A couple of days ago I had noticed Eiko would be visiting town today so I figured I would let her know I would be in town at the same time along with another TB I had never heard of before. We agreed to meet when she arrived with a bus at the central station. Japan is strange this way - the foreigners keep whisking around in the fast shinkansen trains using their unlimited travels JR railpass while the Japanese take slow busses because the shinkansen tickets for Japanese are just too expensive.
Well 10 are a bit late hence I figure I might walk to the station instead of getting a train down there. On my way I want to do a bit of sightseeing. I had noticed on the map from yesterday there would be a zen garden close to the station which might be interesting.
I go to the garden and realize it had a 500 yen entrance fee which is a bit too much for me this time of day with limited time to actually go around in the garden. Instead I head for a big temple. I get to the big templeNishi Hongan-ji it is a huge complex close to the central station. The Buddhist order the temple represented became so powerful that some of the orders adversaries wanted to limit the powers of the order - hence they encourage the foundation of Higashi Hongan-ji which I visited yesterday. Part of the complex is undergoing renovation for the moment and won’t be done until next year - but what I could visit is very impressive as it is - and the entrance fee is my favorite price - free of charge. I walk about the complex for a bit before I have to head down to the station and meet up with Eiko.
I have to wait a bit at the station - unfortunately the buses don’t seem to run quite as punctually as the trains. But then Eiko shows up - and she quickly spots Marc who had actually been hanging around just as long as I had. Apparently we are meeting an American bloke and a French bloke - hence the day which should have been just an excursion with Eiko and Marc turned out to be a little group trip with five of us.
Eiko got it all more or less under control and gets us into the bus stations ticket office and we get our day pass for the busses around Kyoto. We also get a map with all the bus routes around the area - it is both in Japanese and English but judging for our ability during the day to decipher the map it might as well have been in Arabic.
After a while we manage to figure out which bus we need to take for the first stop of the day and we get into the bus. Our first stop for the day is one of the most famous places in Kyoto - the Kinkaku-Ji or golden temple. The place are crowed with visitors when we get in. It doesn’t take long from the entrance to we get to the main attraction of the place the temple - it is located right down at a small lake and lots of people are wondering around it. The golden temple is actually more or less the only thing to see around this place so the visit is over pretty quickly. When we leave the place we get through a massive area with all sort of stands selling different things and lots of them got tastings of the goods - and considering a couple didn’t have breakfast it is like a free buffet of samples.
Left to right Marc, Mickey, Eiko, Oliver and John
After lunch we head on for another of the famous temple complexes around Kyoto - but before we actually get there we get distracted by another temple. That is sort of what happens in Kyoto all the time. You think you are going for a certain place but suddenly something interesting catch your eye and you go somewhere else instead of your original destination. Well after walking up the hill to a small temple we head on to the busy temple at Kiyomizu-dera. To divert attention on the way up the hill are a pagoda - which still strikes me as something quite uniquely oriental and a bit mysterious. After the visit we need to get to the central station to see of Marc who needs to go to the airport and fly out to the Philippines tonight - which ends his quick culture trip to Kyoto.
The rest of us continue to the Fushimi Inari Tashi Shrine.
Toriies at Fushimi Inari Tashi Shrine
I guess there is a temple somewhere on the grounds - but the main building at this place is utterly uninteresting compared to the toriies. Other places there are only a couple of toriies or may a short walkway up to a shrine. But here the toriies simply seems to go on forever - there are rows and rows of toriies all over the place. We walk through the rows of toriies which seems to go on forever - when you walk into one of the rows of toriies you can’t see the end of the torii row but eventually you get to it and you can continue through yet another row of toriies. After walking up and down for a while we leave the shrine to go to the centre and get dinner before Eiko need to get a bus back to Nagoya.
After seeing Eiko of the decimated group head for Gion for a bit of after dark wondering of the area and geisha spotting - and sure enough after a bit a geisha is out in the street walking with a costumer for a house. After Gion we head for the other side of the river and over there are some sort of festival going on with a group of people walking through the city with a couple of them carrying burning bamboo on the shoulder.
Geisha and friend
We are down at the river and it seems like the place people are gathering for a couple of drinks and we join the crowds for a couple of beers before I head off.