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Golden Pavilion and Ryoanji

Kyoto Travel Blog

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Golden Pavilion

Today we decided to try our hand on the public transportation and visit two temples on the outskirts of the city. Our first stop was Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. We bought a day pass at the subway station next to the hotel that was good for the subway or buses. We rode the subway to a main hub, then caught a bus. While waiting for the bus, we were amazed at the number of bikes lined up along the fence unlocked. People are very trusting over here, that’s one reason Japanese tourists are often the victims of crime when they are tourists elsewhere.

We caught a bus for the nearly hour long ride out to the Golden Pavilion. More and more people got on the bus, so we ended up standing in the aisle for most of the ride. The bus stop was about 2 blocks before the entrance, so we made the short walk over.

me at Golden Pavilion
Just inside is the famous view of the Golden Pavilion from across the pond. While trying to find a way up to the fence for a photo, we saw a monk casually walking by. Cool. The original was destroyed by arson in 1950, so what we saw was actually a replica.

There were a lot of people here, but we didn’t have the rushed feeling we had at the Silver Pavilion. We strolled along the gravel path that would through the mossy forest. Workers were there sweeping the leaves and pine needles off the moss. We stopped at a little bowl surrounded by coins so we could toss some loose change. I threw a few coins and twice hit the bowl with a "ping" but didn’t get any in. I must say that I liked the Silver Pavilion better.

Next stop was Ryoan-ji Temple, known for its rock garden.

pond with little islands
I was very excited to see this rock garden since I like rocks so much. We hopped back on the bus for a ride that was just long enough that we didn’t want to walk. Again, the temple grounds here were gorgeous. Lots of cherry blossoms lined a large pond and a little bridge connected to a small island with a little shrine. We walked around the pond and then entered the temple for the rock garden. Removing shoes is always entertaining. People never seem to remember not to step on the wooden platforms in their shoes. I usually remember that, but then I never remember where I put my shoes on our way out.

After removing our shoes, we shuffled along to the garden. I was extremely disappointed with the rock garden. A sea of white gravel surrounded 14 large rocks.

sweeping the petals from the moss
This was a Zen Garden. It was supposed to look like this. The rocks were artfully arranged to represent tigers swimming, or something like that. I was not impressed and instead entertained myself by looking at other people’s socks. I liked the old guy with the bright pink socks. Maybe he didn’t know he was going to a temple where he had to remove his shoes. Or maybe he just likes pink socks.

After the rock garden, we continued around the pond. I really enjoyed the landscape garden where the large rocks were in a more natural environment surround by trees and moss. That is much more relaxing to me.

We caught the bus back and were slightly alarmed to see that we were taking a different route home than we had come. Again, the bus was super crowded and we gave up our seats and still had to stand 3 across in the aisle. At one point, the elderly lady at the seat next to me got up, right as another old lady got on. Rather than letting anyone else sit there, I ushered her into the seat. She was so grateful and kept bowing and saying thanks to me. When she got off the bus a few stops later, she again bowed and said thanks and then bowed and said thanks again from outside on the curb. It was so cute. It made me feel good.

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Golden Pavilion
Golden Pavilion
me at Golden Pavilion
me at Golden Pavilion
pond with little islands
pond with little islands
sweeping the petals from the moss
sweeping the petals from the moss
pond at Golden Pavilion
pond at Golden Pavilion
me throwing a coin for good luck
me throwing a coin for good luck
entrance to Ryoan-ji
entrance to Ryoan-ji
bridge to island
bridge to island
cherry blossoms on pond
cherry blossoms on pond
pond and blossoms at Ryoan-ji
pond and blossoms at Ryoan-ji
cherry blossoms on way to Rock Gar…
cherry blossoms on way to Rock Ga…
wash your hands
wash your hands
Aunt by the blossoms
Aunt by the blossoms
me by pink cherry blossoms
me by pink cherry blossoms
thats the rock garden?
that's the rock garden?
mossy garden behind rock garden
mossy garden behind rock garden
cute little girl
cute little girl
where did I put my shoes?
where did I put my shoes?
landscape garden
landscape garden
now THATS a rock garden!
now THAT'S a rock garden!
trail through landscape garden
trail through landscape garden
little shrine on island
little shrine on island
petals on sidewalk
petals on sidewalk
bus stop
bus stop
people enjoying the river
people enjoying the river
pretty mountains
pretty mountains
unlocked bikes
unlocked bikes
Kyoto
photo by: ys484