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Kyoto Sightseeing

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Kinkakuji-The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

We boarded a tour bus around 8:00 a.m. for a day of organized Kyoto sightseeing. The guide was apprehensive about having a busload of American teens to show around Kyoto, but by the end of the day, she was very impressed with our students. We made stops to visit four significant sites in Kyoto.

First was Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a Zen temple rebuilt in 1955.  This is one of the most famous destinations in Japan. It is a very popular spot for Japanese student groups and families to visit and one must have one's picture taken in front of it. (When I returned home I read Yukio Mishima's Temple of the Golden Pavilion, a fictionalized account of the troubled young monk who burned the original 14th century temple.

Kinkakuji Boathouse
) The gilded pagoda is itself beautiful, but I also enjoyed walking the path around the tranquil grounds with its ponds and stone arrangements. There is more to see here!

Leaving Kinkakuji, we drove by a Kanji character engraved on hillside. (The character is illuminated by bonfire on August 15 in the Daimonji-Okuribi festival. This is often a depicted in anime as a symbol of Kyoto.)

Nijo Castle (Nijojo) was next. On the itinerary were the Watchtower, East Gate, Karamon (Inner gate), garden, and Ninomaru Palace (1603). Ninomaru Palace is famous for its "nightengale floorboards" that make a chirping sound when tread upon. It is said that this was designed so no one could  sneak up on the Shogun. In 1868, the Meiji Emperor took control of government at Ninomaru, ending the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Plan of Kinkakuji (Rokuon-ji) grounds
Of particular note were the intricately carved wooden Inner Gate and facade of Ninomaru Palace. A display of richly attired mannequins in the main hall of the palace depicts the Shogun receiving his subordinates.

Kiyomizu Temple is on a hillside on the opposite side of Kyoto. It's name, "kiyo mizu", meaning "pure water", is represented by the pure water spring on the grounds. Here we noted  the main gate, pagoda, temple bell,  Hondo (Main Hall) of 1629, and the adjacent Jishu Jinja Shrine. From the Platform, one has a view of the city below. ("To leap off the Platform of Kiyomizu" is a Japanese expression akin to "jumping off the deep end.") On the way back down I noted that path was lined with Cherry trees just about to blossom, But, we were a week or two too early for that.

Tranquility Pond and stone pagoda at Kinkakuji

We retraced out steps along Kiyomizu zaka, the Higashiyama District shopping street leading to the temple. There was time to inspect the many souvenier shops lining the streets.We enjoyed a buffet-style lunch at a hotel featuring Japanese dishes with fruits and Western style salads.

In the afternoon we headed for the Heian Jingu Shrine. (A temple is Buddhist while a shrine is Shinto.)  Heian was an Imperial shrine of the Meji Period, constructed in 1895 to mark the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. Here we noted the large concrete Tori Gate spanning the boulevard leading to the shrine, Main Gate, Byakko (White Tiger) side pavilion, Daigokuden (Main Hall), and Soryu (Blue Dagon) side pavilion. (In the film Lost in Translation, Scarlett Johansson's character takes a stroll throught the Heian Shrine.

Bell Tower or Shôrô at Kinkakuji

Evening found me going shopping at Tower Records, OPO, and the Takashimaya department store downtown. The OPO department store consisted of space rented by several independent concerns. I bought some graphic design tops for my daughter at Cactus. Tower Records was on the top floor of the building. Here I found CDs featuring conductor Takashi Asahina and other Japanese classical CDs I had been seeking. Uniformed hostesses greeted shoppers entering the Takashimaya department store. The entire Takashimaya basement was a supermarket of all variety of foods, western and Japanese. There were prepared and fresh food sections, a bakery section, a butcher, seafood, produce, and candy. Bagels were 145 Yen. I bought a cinnamon bun for a snack later. (One took a tray and placed bakery selections on the tray for purchase at the register.) Had dinner at a cafe in the basement of Takashimaya. (I recall it was called something like Brownstone. It had counter service and was supposed to evoke a New York Brownstone.) Dinner was a beef and mushroom curry in a dark sauce, over rice, with a Japanese coleslaw on the side. (Believe the curry dish was Kare Raisu.)

bernard69 says:
amazing pics!
Posted on: Jul 26, 2010
Andy99 says:
I hope you can see Kyoto. Kyoto is a beautiful city and there are many temples, palaces, and gardens to be visited.
Posted on: Jul 28, 2007
tvillingmarit says:
Very nice photos, now I want to go to Kyoto
Posted on: Jul 28, 2007
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Kinkakuji-The Temple of the Golden…
Kinkakuji-The Temple of the Golde…
Kinkakuji Boathouse
Kinkakuji Boathouse
Plan of Kinkakuji (Rokuon-ji) grou…
Plan of Kinkakuji (Rokuon-ji) gro…
Tranquility Pond and stone pagoda …
Tranquility Pond and stone pagoda…
Bell Tower or Shôrô at Kinkakuji
Bell Tower or Shôrô at Kinkakuji
Dragon Gate Falls
(Ryûmon Taki) …
Dragon Gate Falls (Ryûmon Taki)…
My son, Drew, and I at Kinkakuji
My son, Drew, and I at Kinkakuji
Vending machines for visitors at K…
Vending machines for visitors at …
Dai character illuminated during t…
Dai character illuminated during …
Southeast watchtower (yagura) at N…
Southeast watchtower (yagura) at …
Main Gate (Ote-mon) at Nijo Castle
Main Gate (Ote-mon) at Nijo Castle
Karamon (Inner Gate)
Karamon (Inner Gate)
Ninomaru Palace
Ninomaru Palace
Ninomaru Palace detail
Ninomaru Palace detail
Nijojo Garden
Nijojo Garden
Plan of Nijo Castle (Nijojo) groun…
Plan of Nijo Castle (Nijojo) grou…
Western Gate (Nishi-mon) at Nijo C…
Western Gate (Nishi-mon) at Nijo …
Entrance to Kiyomizu
Entrance to Kiyomizu
On the way to Kiyomizu
On the way to Kiyomizu
Kiyomizu Temple
Kiyomizu Temple
Clear Water spring
Clear Water spring
Tori Gate at Heian Shrine
Tori Gate at Heian Shrine
Oten-mon, main gateway to the Heia…
Oten-mon, main gateway to the Hei…
Oten-mon gateway detail
Oten-mon gateway detail
Heian Shrine
Heian Shrine
Omikuji at Heian Jingu Shrine
Omikuji at Heian Jingu Shrine
Kyoto Sights & Attractions review
At the Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Kinkakuji or The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, is one of the most famous sights in Kyoto. Justly so. Situated on a quiet pond, the golden hall and it… read entire review
Kyoto Sights & Attractions review
The Imperial Heian Shrine
The Heian Jingu Shrine is a relative newcomer among the historic temples and shrines of Kyoto. It was dedicated in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th ann… read entire review
Kyoto Sights & Attractions review
Nijojo, Ninomaru Palace, and the Shoguns
Nijo Castle, or Nijojo, was built in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Within its fortified walls is Ninomaru Palace, the re… read entire review
Kyoto
photo by: ys484