Sorry for the delays but I finally got around to writing my Kyoto post. I hope you readers were all still looking forward to it. I was supposed to meet a friend for this, but he turned into a no show. I hadn’t made plans on what to do without him, so I stressed out a bit and tried my best to find my way around. I only made it to 2 places in Kyoto, but they are 2 of the most famous places in Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple and Kinkakuji. Hit the Jump for more!
I guess I’ll do this in a semi diary style again. As I am a really really poor intern student, I save wherever possible. This means I take the bus instead of the Shinkansen as much as possible. Round trip for the Shinkansen from Nagoya to Kyoto is 10,000 yen, the high speed bus is 4,315 yen. Sweet :).
Unfortunately, it meant I had to wake up really really early to catch the first train and the first high speed bus, so I could make it to Kyoto before 10 to meet my no-show friend. Just a shot of me heading to the train station, so you have a sense of how early it was.
I guess buses are the same everywhere, so I guess more pictures aren’t necessary :P. Upon arriving at Kyoto, I see this!
Ok, I guess it’s enough gawking at a train station :P. Kyoto is special compared to other major cities in Japan in that it was never severely bombed, fire-bombed, or nuked during World War II due to the then Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, recognizing the cultural significance. It is one of the few places in Japan with an extreme abundance of pre-war buildings, and is packed national treasures. You’ll also notice a distinct lack of high rise buildings as Kyoto attempts to keep the city’s old skyline.
The first step that anyone should do in Kyoto is go to the bus center right outside the station and buy themselves a 1,200 yen day pass for the subway and bus. Note: the pass only applies for the city run subways and not the private rail.
After giving up on my friend, I took the 101 series tour bus and made my first stop: Kiyomizu Temple aka Kiyomizudera or 清水寺. Thanks to the swine flu effect there is a distinct lack of Japanese tourists in Kyoto ( I still think Japan is over reacting.). For the most part, there were more foreign tourists than Japanese people around, but there were a lot of middle schoolers who were there for their start of school trip :). If you played Persona 4 and wondered if those school trips in the game were real, yes they are!
There are numerous sub temples all around the Kiyomizu complex each dedicated to something different. People write their wishes on those wood slabs and tie them up like you see in the picture.
Before entering the temple, you’re supposed to purify yourself by washing your hands, mouth etc. In the wake of swine flu, most people have foregone this step.
O, in this building that you must pay a “donation” of 200 yen to enter there is some sort of Buddhist refreshing chamber. What it really is, is an extremely long tunnel with no lights and no sound except at the very end when you encounter the prayer stone. Say your wish and turn the stone and leave. It’s actually surprisingly refreshing to get your senses back upon exiting. I strongly recommend trying it out.
Next up, time to enter the main temple. The temple itself has an extra national treasures hall where you must pay a “donation” of 500 yen to enter. I passed on that one, and continued my way through the temple.
Kiyomizu is famous for its wooden terraces, and for good reason!
Onwards, to Kinkakuji. However, on the way I saw this which was kind of interesting. Kyoto is a huge clash of old and semi-new. This new building has literally been built into part of an existing shrine.
Kinkakuji is built in the middle of a forest :O. It feels so weird to see so much green in Japan.
Hooooly crap, I didn’t expect the Kinkakuji to actually sparkle. I didn’t think it was possible for a building to sparkle. My amusement is shared by the Japanese students as they exclaim in surprise, めちゃめちゃきらきらしてるじゃん！ - Isn’t it ridiculously shiny!
I guess that’s about it for Kinkakuji. With that, I spent a long time getting lost before I made it back to Kyoto station. On the way back, I passed by a river in Kyoto, with all sorts of people playing instruments. There was even a band with a drum set on the riverbank. There was even scene reminicent of K-ON!
I’ll end this post with a few night shots I took while wandering back to Kyoto station. Who said it was easy to find your way around in Kyoto! This place is ridiculous!
Sorry for dragging the post for so long, but I had so many pictures! I have a few more for those who are interested, but I’ll put those up in venue specific posts! Until next time! I hope you enjoyed reading!
Oh yea, and here’s Hayate 137 :P. Gogogo!