S: Kyoto.Japan November.2007
BC: . . . The End
FC: Kyoto.Japan | November.2007
1: Kyoto, here we come! I wasn't ready to leave Odawara when it was time to go. Odawara was a place I could see myself staying if I were to ever move to Japan, but the trip must go on. I was half expecting Kyoto to be just as laid back if not more country even though I knew it was a major city. When I got there I was surprised to see practically the same type of urban sprawl as I saw in Tokyo, and then my feet began to hurt... | A whole bunch of school children were on a field trip taking pictures. They were so cute we had to stop and take photos too. Too bad you have to be in private school to have cute uniforms back home. Once we arrived at Kyoto Station, we ate McDonalds and visited the tourist information station (they spoke English) and they gave us a map of where to go. The picture on the bottom right is of a pancake making machine. They were making Japanese size pancakes. | Thursday.November.22
2: I really couldn't figure out which cool design was the Nozomi. We rode on the Nozomi which was the fastest bullet train in Japan. We were so dead tired we couldn't stay up to enjoy the ride but it got us to Kyoto really fast! All we remember is that we had an open can of hot otcha on the window and although we were literally shifted sideways, we were going so fast that it didn't even tip. Crazy fast... wish we weren't sleeping. | Obachama dropped us off at Odawara Station early in the morning and June bought us the famous Yokohama shumai bento before we hopped on the Hikari bullet train to Shin-Yokohama Station; our transfer point to go on the famous Nozomi Bullet Train. It's top speed is over 300 km/h (186 mph). If you think the regular bullet trains are fast, you got to wait until you try this train. Nozomi in Japanese means "hope" or "wish. We bought reserved seats called "green car" from Shin-Yokohama to Kyoto Station which was about 8,000 yen each. Although it was only two stops from our origin point the trip took a little over two hours. | Nozomi
3: The main reason why we chose this hotel over the others was the fact it had a coin laundry place. We figured since it was the mid point of our trip, it would be important to was and reuse our clothes. We tried to travel light coming to Japan because we knew we wanted to bring a lot back. We had the majority of our shopping from Tokyo all packaged up and picked up from ABC Baggage. It's a company that comes to pick up your luggage, store it and take it to the airport. My family has been using this service since before I was born. Their charge was about 2,100 yen per box to Osaka airport. It beats having to transport the luggage ourselves since we're traveling and transferring from train to train. Even with the two large and one small suit cases we had it was hard to travel. This hotel was close to our first tour to the Imperial Palace but it wasn't as close as we hoped to the main part of Kyoto. Next time, we'll book closer to Shijo Street. From Kyoto Station, we had to ride the metro rail to Marutamachi. Good thing it was in hiragana because there's nothing written in English for this underground rail. For Kyoto, we decided to mainly use their city bus system. For 500 yen per person per day, we can go on unlimited bus rides. Funny thing is, their city bus maps were better than any other maps we had! | Kyoto Palace-Side Hotel
4: Kyoto Imperial Park Thursday.November.22 Today was Thanksgiving back at home and as much fun we were having, we did miss everyone at home. We called home around 1:30pm, Japan time with the cellphone we rented from Japan Rentafone. Everyone was excited to hear from us and get a quick update on what we were up to. We came across this beautiful park called Kyoto Imperial Park. It was located right across the street from our hotel. June had scheduled a special tour with the Kyoto Imperial Palace through their online request form. She had to request two months in advance to ensure we could get approval to enter. The hour long tour took us through the palace grounds and gardens. We were so busy staying behind to take pictures that we didn't hear much of the actual tour information and got asked to keep up and stay together a couple times. We don't regret it one bit because we got fantastic photos!
7: Behind this mon is the actual Palace. We got the majority of the photos in the beginning of the tour but we couldn't leave until the entire tour was done because it was guided.
9: The Kyoto Imperial Palace is about 27 acres in size. It stands behind a courtyard that is laid with white sand. The Palace has been burnt down many times during war but the current one that stands today was the very one that the Tokugawa Shogunate ordered to rebuild in 1854. On the left page, the top left gate is called the Okurumayose. This entrance was used for the official visits by courtiers who had been granted permission to enter the Palace precincts. There were many other gates within gates preceding each building.
11: Oikeniwa Garden
12: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine Friday.November.23 This is one of my favorite shrines. I remember visiting this place since I was a young toddler and loving the "kitsune" fox statues placed all over. It soon became one of Ryan's favorite shrines as well. On this page, we took pictures of the food vendors surrounding the outskirts of the shrine. Every entrance to the shrine is marked by bright orange red torii gates. The purpose of the gate is to divide our world and the spirit world. Inari is the god of rice. Businesses worship the Inari for wealth. This popular shrine sits at the base of a mountain, also named Inari, and includes a two hour trail up to the mountain leading to many smaller shrines. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do any trails but as a child, I have gone up many times.
13: Honden Main Building
16: Kitsune The kitsune foxes are regarded as the messengers of the Inari god and therefore, often found in these shrines. One attribute you will find is the rice grain in their mouths. Torii This photo shot is of one of the torii gate paths. Many individuals and businesses donate these torii gates of various sizes to thank the god of their successes. You can find the donator's name and date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate. The cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate.
17: The Hiking Trail You'll find many restaurants along the hiking trail that serve locally themed dishes such as Inari Sushi and Kitsune Udon, both featuring pieces of aburaage (fried) tofu, said to be a favorite food of the foxes. If we do go again, we would like to try the trail.
18: Omokaru Ishi As the story goes, this rock's feeling of heaviness depends on you. You're suppose to make a wish and try to lift the stone and if you can carry it (karui), your wish is granted. If you cannot carry it (omoi), you have to come back another day. So was Ryan able to lift it? Try ask him. | We decided to practice what my Obachama taught us. We weren't quite sure if we were doing it right but no one was staring at us so it must have been pretty close. After all, practice makes perfect right?
19: Upon leaving, we were greeted again by the many shops calling out to their customers. Ryan stopped by a shop to pick up a memorabilia kitsune mask. It would match the Tengu mask from Daiyuzan. This store had the most ridiculously large praying beads one could ever want. We figured it was for decoration or something. Of course the first thing Ryan does when I ask him to take a picture with it is this. The picture on the top left is from the outside looking back in to the main building.
20: T O J I T E M P L E
21: Friday.November.23 Temple No.2 This is the main entrance to Toji. The gates at a Buddhist Temple are very different from the Torii Gates inside Shinto Shrines. The bus dropped us off across the street and we walked on an overpass to the front. The name means East Temple and it has a counterpart called Sai-ji (West Temple). This was our second temple visit of the day. Ryan enjoyed the pagoda, the giant Buddhas and just being there gave him an overwhelming sense of tranquility. The temple's principal image is of the Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. It is designated by UNESCO as one of the Ancient Kyoto World Heritage Sites. He bought multiple omiyage omamori here for family and friends.
22: Kobo Daishi | Kobo Daishi was a Japanese monk, scholar and founder of Shingon school of Buddhism. The Founders Hall, where Kobo Diashi is said to have lived, has become a shrine to the famous priest. It houses a 13th century statue of him, only revealed to the public on the 21st of every month. That's when the temple hosts a famous Kobo-san flea market in honor of him.
23: Toji Pagoda | The pagoda of Toji stands 54.8 meters high and it the tallest wooden tower in Japan. It dates from the Edo period when it was rebuilt by order of the Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. It was last built in 1643 after having burned five times. The pagoda has been and continues to be the symbol of Kyoto. Entrance to the pagoda itself is permitted only a few days a year.
27: The Gardens at Toji Temple
28: Yakushi Nyorai Yakushi is the god of healing and medicine; often shown holding a small jar of medicine in the left hand while the right is in the mudra position meaning "no fear." When Buddhism first arrived in Japan, Yakushi was among the first to arrive and was revered as one who could cure earthly suffering. Even today, Yakushi is one of the most cherished Buddha figures in Japan. Among the 88 temples in this sect, 23 are dedicated to Yakushi, second to the Kannon Bosatsu, the goddess of mercy, who has 29 temples dedicated to her. Below is a picture of us on the overpass bridge on the way to Toji. We used this picture on our Christmas card for 2007.
29: Colorado Here We Come! | At the very end of our stay at Toji, we purchased gifts and omamori at the gift shop. There was also a little booth sampling plum tea with pure gold flakes inside. We bought a couple packs for our mothers and drank the rest of the sample while we rested our feet. We were only half way through our day.
30: Japanese Desserts This picture was taken by the Kyoto train station. If we had just a little more time on our hands, I would have went inside and bought a cake to take back to the hotel. Too bad we we're on our way to shop for the rest of the day.
31: The Streets of Kyoto This was a Buddhist monk. I think he was begging for some change. He was chanting and standing right in front by the main shopping alley way, Shijo dori. According to research, it seems as if some sects of Buddhism practice begging as part of their "becoming a monk" discipline. Although every now and then you come across alleys with traditional wooden buildings and structures, Kyoto's streets are pretty modern. June had to visit the Prefecture Office or City Hall one morning to get her Japanese record. Apparently the Japanese record system needs some serious updating. You have to know your hometown's original address in order to get your "life report" that records everything. You can order it up to two generations before you. Since she was in Kyoto, she went to get it from the main office. Thanks to her speaking Japanese, she was able to get some help.
32: Friday.November.23 This was the third temple of the day. On our way to Gion, we walked through Yasaka Shrine at sunset. All the lanterns were lit and we walked to the end which led to a pond at Maruyama Park. Yasaka Shrine was once called Gion Shrine. It is a Shinto Shrine at the east end of Shijo Dori (Fourth Avenue). It is dedicated to the God of Prosperity and Good Health. Today, this Shrine hosts the world famous Gion Matsuri and in April, the crowds pass through the temple on their way to the park for a popular "hanami" (cherry blossom viewing) site. The lanterns are lit after dark every night and bears the names of their sponsors. We were lucky enough to catch some kind of mini matsuri and we greeted once again with a bunch of food vendors but this time something caught Ryan's eye. It was freshly made takoyaki and taiyaki. Ryan got to experience authentic Japanese festival food in Japan. Nothing tops that! Hot hot food in cold weather almost made the pain in our feet go away. Almost... | Yasaka Shrine
37: Gion at Night We finished Yasaka Shrine at sunset and ended our night in Gion. Gion was interesting. It reminded us of Tokyo as it was commercialized with the hustle and bustle of any metropolitan city. It used to be Kyoto's traditional entertainment district and now a mix of flashy discos are found next to tea houses and restaurants adorned with simple hanging lanterns. We saw tourist knick knacks that are commonly found in airports, plenty of food, candy and mochi vendors. One of the more popular mochis are called "otabe" and we brought back many different varieties as omiyage. Growing up, I loved eating this mochi. It is said that the number of geishas have declined since its peak in the 1920s but there are still opportunities to see them perform at certain festivals. Geisha and maiko do perform year round at tea houses, although without an introduction it is impossible to get in.
38: Every now and then if you look down side alleys, you notice these quaint looking narrow walk ways and you can't help but imagine the stories read in Memoirs of a Geisha. We walked down these alleys to take a peak and see what the lit lanterns meant but June couldn't read the kanji. We were going to knock on these sliding doors but couldn't tell if it was someone's home so we decided to move on to Teramachi for more shopping.
39: Teramachi Dori Kyoto Shopping was done on Teramachi Street and Shijo Street. We came back multiple times to shop. This shopping area is shaped like an X and can get quite confusing so take note of what shops are at each exit so you don't get lost. There was a neat sword shop, a well-known paper shop, as well as a few other one-of-a-kind finds. Complete with a karaoke place, movie theater and a grocery store, Teramachi was the place to go! There was a very delicious authentic katsu chain (forgot the name) and we ordered the largest prawn we've ever seen. It was just as delicious as we thought it would be!
40: The View from Kamo River This was the bridge that we crossed almost every bus ride. It covered the Kamo River. This was the beautiful Kyoto city lights view from the bridge. These Christmas lights were from a hotel called Fujita. Next time we go to Kyoto, we might consider staying here because of its central location to Teramachi and downtown Kyoto. From the river, it looked like they had both Japanese and Western style rooms. While we were searching for hotels online, pretty much everything in Kyoto was booked because of the fall peak season (late November). Not sure if we can call to make reservations earlier than what's available online. The Japanese rooms were about $200 per night.
41: Kiyomizudera Friday.November.23 This was why we decided to come to Japan in November - the night-showing of the Autumn Season for Kyoto temples. Kiyomizudera was the first temple that we were able to attend for the night viewing. This once a year event features only specific temples in an open house that lasts for two weeks or so. Tourists from all over the world including the different areas within Japan attend to see the most breathtaking views lit up perfectly at night. Although it was ridiculously crowded, the artistic staging of the lights, fantastic contrast in colors, reflection of the moonlight on the waters all completed the entire experience. The pictures cannot even justify the beauty we witnessed that night.
42: Kiyomizudera dates back to 798 and was rebuilt under the order of Tokugawa Iemitsu as well. Not one nail was used in the construction of the entire temple. The temple takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means “clear water” or “pure water.” On the top of this page, you will find the main hall which has a large veranda that offers fantastic views of Kyoto City. You can see the view from the other side on the next page. We used a special setting on our Canon camera to capture the night image.
46: The Hawk Story One day while staying at my Obachama's timeshare, Kyoto Diamond Society, we shared a convenience store bento on the bank of the river. We meant to feed the birds in front of us (doves) but the hawks came down from the top of these high buildings and we got scolded by a local Kyoto man. When he realized we didn't speak Japaneses (June faking it), he made an X mark with his hand and said "bad boy" twice before he rode off on his bicycle. These hawks were crazy and huge. One swung right over our heads and we panicked. They could easily hurt us. They kept screaming and circling us from high up. They look like small birds from below but they were bigger than Coco when they came up close. No wonder that guy was so mad at us. I guess they are a really big problem in Kyoto. We have a home video on our computer.
47: Kyoto Diamond Society This was the night gown furnished by the Kyoto Diamond Society. We were just having fun taking pictures in them. The public baths "onsen" were no where near therapeutic as the one in Hakone. We were quite disappointed. It was very small. I felt bad telling Ryan that it was a necessary part of Japanese culture to experience an onsen. He felt completely uncomfortable about it. Oh well. Next time, we have to remember to bring our own house slippers to wear in hotels. We also have to make time for us to enjoy the hotel grounds if we were to stay in nice places.
48: The Old Kyoto Every now and then, you'll still see old wooden building that seems to resemble the traditional Japan. This restaurant in particular caught our eye, We appreciated the genuine look and wished we found more like it.
49: Odd Items in Japan I know what you're thinking. Why would we put a picture of a toilet in our photobook? How disgusting is that? Of all the things Ryan discovered in Japan, these were one of the most amusing. What I realized was how Westerners have no idea how to use these things. Bidet toilets are common with Europeans but the Japanese style toilets are quite different. Good thing Ryan figured out early on that the label "Western Toilet" meant toilet seat. He practically refused to use the bathroom unless they had a Western-Style one. The picture on the left is of a Japanese pay phone. I had to teach Ryan how to use a telephone card and equipped him with that and our Japanese cell phone number just in case we got separated farther than walkie-talkie distance.
51: Soft Cream So the Japanese is known for having crazy soft serve ice cream flavors. They call it "soft cream." From garlic to wasabi, tofu and sakura flavors, they always find a way to surprise you. It's been a tradition for me to eat something new whenever I go to Japan. I kept begging Ryan to eat it with me but he refused, saying it was too cold. Finally, when he was ready to eat it on the very last day, I was too cold. We never got around to it. Instead, we found ourselves in search for the next vending machine to buy a hot drink and warm ourselves up. With each drink being anywhere between 110 to 180 yen, we easily spent more than 1,000 yen per day on drinks. | Doggies! There's something about pug owners that draws them to want to get to know every pug they see. Whether it's me out meeting new pugs or other strangers walking up to me with my Bubu, I've noticed that the pug community is a very tight knit one. Even in Japan, I was drawn to this pug I came across. Poor little guy was so cold but wanted to do his daily walk outside. Ryan was attracted to the Shiba-ken we came across. The nice owners stopped to chat with us for a short while and take a picture with him.
53: Golden Pavilion Saturday.November.24 Temple No. 1 Now this location is one of the many tourist traps in Kyoto. There's hardly a time of day when bus loads of tourists and students aren't trying to capture on film a fraction of Kinkaku-ji's splendor. Shogun Yoshimitsu originally built this as a retirement villa but his son, in accordance to Yoshimitsu's will, later converted it to a temple. It is said that the Golden Pavilion, its gardens and other buildings represented his idea of heaven. The original design was to have all three stories of the temple covered with gold. Yoshimitsu, for reasons of money or time, only completed the ceiling of the third floor. Used as a living space and a place for meditation, the building is an unusual blend of residential and religious architectural styles. We weren't allowed to go any closer than this picture. In 1950, a jealous monk burned down the original structure. The restructured temple follows the original design, and by 1987 the gold foil, now five times thicker than the original, was extended down to the lower floors. After paying an admission fee of 400 yen, we followed the crowd to a pond that reflected the spectacular Zen landscape's Golden Pavilion. The pond is called Kyoko-chi "Mirror Pond" and represents the Buddhist Creation Story with its many islands and stones. As Ryan describes the experience, "we were in awe of the golden temple sitting on the reflection pond. It reminded me of how brilliant Zen art is. It almost looked like another world lay beneath the surface of the water."
54: Zen Gardens When you follow the path that leads you near the pavilion, it leads through the temple's gardens which have retained their original design from Yoshimitsu's days. The gardens hold a few other spots of interest including Anmintaku Pond that is said to never dry up, and statues that people throw coins at for luck.
56: Continuing through the garden takes you to the Sekkatei Teahouse, added to Kinkakuji during the Edo Period, before you exit the paid temple area. Outside the exit are souvenir shops, a small tea garden where you can have matcha tea and sweets (500 yen) and Fudo Hall, a small temple hall which houses a statue of Fudo Myoo, one of the Five Wisdom Kings and protector of Buddhism. The statue is said to be carved by Kobo Daishi, one of the most important figures in Japanese religious history. Here's a picture of Ryan and I lighting incense to honor our ancestors at the temple. A lot of people were using their hands to wave the smoke into them. We followed the ritual for good luck. At one of the shops, we tried a sample of kuro goma otabe. It was a black sesame seed mochi wrap which Ryan fell in love with. He thought he should buy a few packs but I insisted we wait until later as I was certain we could find it in the city. Unfortunately, we didn't. Apparently it was a temple exclusive at the time. It wasn't until years later when my mother's friend brought it back from Kyoto as omiyage when we got to try it again. Oh, kuro goma otabe, how we miss you so...
57: Daitoku-ji Saturday.November.24 Temple No. 2 Right next to Kinkaku-ji Temple was Daitoku-ji, our second temple for the day.We didn't stay as long here since it wasn't too interesting. My grandmother said the gardens were worth a visit. We agree. We wish we knew a little more about Zen garden to understand its meaning. Daitoku-ji means the "Temple of Great Virtue." It was founded in 1319 and consists of the main temple plus 23 smaller temples, ornamental gardens and teahouses. Daitoku-ji was voted one of the Top Ten temples and sites to visit in our Kyoto Travel guide book. It's a walled temple complex in northern Kyoto and the head temple of the Rinzai sect's Daitoku-ji school of Japanese Zen Buddhism. It is one of the best places in Japan to see a wide variety of Zen gardens and to experience Zen culture and architecture. Of the 23 sub-temples, only Saisen-in, Koto-in, Ryogen-in and Zuiho-in are open to the public.
58: Koto-in The maple tree-lined stone pathway to this temple is one of the greatest entrances of any temple in Kyoto. The maples are also found extensively throughout Kotoi-n's tea garden and are used with sparse simplicity in the temple's tranquil moss garden. The leaves are particularly spectacular around the second half of November when they usually reach the peak of their autumnal beauty. The temple's main garden features gravel raked in distinct, high peaked patterns evoking the image of rough seas, and is set with islands of sharp stones and moss that appear off in the distance. The garden to the rear of the main building has stones laid out in the pattern of a crucifix. Zuiho-in is the least notable of the four temples open to the public.
59: Ryogen-in Ryogen-in features as many as five different dry landscape gardens on each side of its main building. The largest of them consists of a field of raked white gravel representing the universe, and islands of rocks and moss representing a crane and a turtle, symbols of longevity and health commonly found in Japanese gardens. This building is called the Hatto Hall or Dharma Hall. It was not open to the public.
60: Daisen-in, With its elegant dry gardens, this is the best known of the sub-temples. Meditation and tea ceremonies are held on the 24th of every month. It also features beautiful rock gardens, which wrap around the temple building and are considered among of the best examples of their kind. One of the gardens is designed to resemble a Chinese landscape painting with vertical stones representing towering mountains and islands divided by white sand waterfalls and streams which appear to flow through to the temple's other gardens before emptying out into an expansive ocean of white gravel.
62: Shimogamo Shrine
63: Our next stop was Shimogamo Shrine. Temple number three for today. Shimogamo Shrine is one of the two shrines that protect the city from demons flowing through the Kamo River. This is because the Kamo River runs from the direction of the "devil's gate" into the city. Shimogamo is the "lower shrine" and the Kamigamo is the "upper shrine." This shrine is also listed as a "Historic Monument of Ancient Kyoto" with UNESCO. | At the Kamigamo Shrine, the Kamo Wake-ikazuchi, the kami of thunder, is the focus of attention and reverence. The Shimogamo Shrine is dedicated to the veneration of Kamo Wake-ikazuchi's mother, Kamo Tamayori-hime. Shimogamo is also dedicated to Kamo Taketsune, who is the father of Kamo Tamayori-hime. Shimogamo is that of the Kami mother while the Kamigamo is that of Kami's offspring. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to visit Kamigamo Shine.
64: We saw a traditional Japanese wedding here in their wedding attire. It was so beautiful it made me kind of want to follow suit. Destination wedding in Japan, wouldn't that be awesome? June later told me what the big white hat for the bride was for. Apparently, it's to cover her horns. Although Shimogamo Shrine was dedicated to keep the evil spirits out, it seemed more like a wedding shrine. There was a couple of weddings going on while we were there and a lot of their souvenirs were based off of En-musubi or relationship and marriage themes. We bought our en-musubi here.
65: This little house was a dedication to our Lunar New Year animal signs. I'm the year of the Rat while Ryan is the year of the Horse. We donated our 10 yen into the offering box and we introduced ourselves visiting from Hawaii. We visited Japan during the year of the Rat which was suppose to be good luck for June.
66: Club Imaginium Saturday.November.24 I wanted to go to a club in Tokyo very badly, just to see what they are like internationally and outside of Hawaii. When we didn't go, I was super bummed. When cruising the streets of Kyoto, I came across a small record shop. There I picked up a couple of vinyls and at check-out, discovered that Francois K was in town. and djing at a club that night. June felt bad about Tokyo so we went back to the hotel, washed up, got ready and caught a cab down! We had a lot of fun but the majority of the people there were Europeans. We got pretty wasted so we had to take a cab home since it was late and we didn't want to walk in the freezing cold. Our taxi driver was mesmerized by how a 100% Japanese guy didn't speak a word of Japanese. On the way home, we got a little lost (with the driver) but eventually found our way. We had him drop us off at a nearby 24 hour diner by our Palaceside Hotel. This random Japanese guy is the cool doorman bouncer. Just for kicks!
67: I really felt bad we didn't get a chance to take Ryan clubbing in Tokyo. We researched all the main house clubs and the different modes of transportation but we didn't realize how far it was from our hotel in Shibuya. Tokyo is such a large place. The clubs were spaced out in out-of-the-way areas. The main transportation system in Japan is the train but the last train often stops around midnight. Many times you'll see drunk Japanese business men hanging around the train stations either sprawled out on the bench, falling asleep waiting for their train to come or sleeping on the curb because they missed their train. If you catch a cab ride from the club, it would easily cost you over $100 to get to our hotel (one way). I've personally never bothered going to a Japanese club because I was told it was only a tourist trap. The hip, young Japanese kids like to go to Izakayas and Karaoke to hang out. Sure enough when we went to Francois K, it was exactly that. Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun and met people from all over the world. We had the time of our life!
69: Sanjusangendo Sunday.November.25 I'm not going to lie. We were pretty hung over this day. We stayed out late last night and didn't get out to this temple until 3pm. Since they closed early, we had to rush through the exhibits but it was probably one of the most impressive temples we've been to. It's quite small but they are well known for their 1,001 statues of Kannon or Avalokiteshvara (goddess of mercy) located inside this building that is the length of a football field. The entrance fee was 600 yen per person. You could definitely feel the spiritual energy walking in.
70: I couldn't resist. It was such a beautiful view that I had to show how happy I was. For a moment, I felt like a little kid behind Sanjusangendo. I jumped up and yelled, "I love you!" to Ryan. He just laughed and snapped this picture.
71: The statue of the main deity was created by the Kamakura sculptor, Tankei, and is a national treasure in Japan. The other thousand statues (each as tall as a human being) are both on the left and right sides of the main kannon in 10 rows and 50 columns. Of these, 124 statues are from the original temple, rescued from the fire of 1249, while the remaining 876 statues were constructed in the 13th century. The statues are made of Japanese cypress. Around the 1,001 kannons stand 28 statues of guardian deities. Since it is forbidden to take pictures inside this temple, I borrowed these pictures from a website. We sat down in front of each of the main deities to read the English descriptions they had on display.
74: Parfait Time! While on one of our shopping trips to Teramachi, we got hungry so we stopped at a pasta place upstairs. The pasta was horrible but their parfait was tasty! It was a $7 dessert but well worth the experience. Japanese people tend to master the desserts.
75: Strawberry Shortcake So I had to make Ryan try the Japanese style strawberry short cake cause nothing can beat the best. There's Saint Germain and Patisserie La Palme D'or at home but it's not quite the same from tasting it in Japan. Growing up, we celebrated every occasion with a strawberry shortcake. Christmas, every Birthday and Girl's Day wasn't the same without it. He was very impressed. This was a cake shop around Shijo dori and I think it was a Milky Way shop. I was sad that this was the only time I got to eat cake while in Japan. I should have had more. On our next trip, we really need to plan out places to eat. We really missed out this time around. | Beer Vending Machines I've always wanted to do this. Kind of crazy how they put beer in vending machines. They're all over the place! Even inside hotels and around saunas! You would think all the kids would go and buy beer. I heard from June's friend in Tokyo that they're planning on improving the system to where you would need a key card to prove you're over 20 to be able to buy beer from the machines. There were only a couple times we bought beer from the vending machines. This time, we were in the laundromat inside our hotel washing our loads in the tiniest washing machine ever. We kicked back a few beers and got toasty waiting forever for our clothes to dry. I think it took twice as long than it would at home.
76: Eikando The first night we went to Eikando, we didn't give ourselves enough time after shopping at Teramachi so we thought an hour would be enough. Boy, were we wrong! Eikando was the most beautiful of Kyoto fall. Ryan took me back the next night.
77: Eikando The temple is also well-known as "Eikando in Maple Leaves", because of its beautiful garden filled with many maple trees. It is also known for it's magnificent 30 inch statue known as the Mikaeri Amida or Turning Amida. It's a stunning statue which has its head turned to the side as if looking over its shoulder. Eikando was originally known as Zenrinji, the Temple of Forest of Zen. Zenrin-ji is the head temple of Jodo-shu Seizan Zenrin-ji sect.
78: Hojo Pond Small streams run through the temple grounds and connect to this main pond, at the center is a small shrine on an island.
79: Tahoto Pagoda
81: Mikaeri Amida As the story goes, in 1082, when Yokan was fifty, he and a number of monks were practicing a ritual, walking around the statue and reciting sutras when the statue of Amida came to life and stepped down from its dais. Yokan halted the ritual in surprise; the Buddha looked over its shoulder at the monk, and said to him, "Yokan, you are slow". Ever since then, goes the story, the posture of this statue has remained in that position. | Ojizo-Sama One of the things you’ll commonly come across in Japan are little statues, usually dressed in a red bib, called Ojizo-sama. They tend to be small and can be usually found along roadsides, around temples, and in cemeteries. So what do they mean? The ojizo-sama statues are one of the most popular Japanese divinities and are seen as the guardian of children (note their baby-like faces), particularly of children who died before their parents. What tourists usually find amusing are the red bibs that are commonly seen hanging on the statues. This practice is said to have begun when grieving parents put their child's bib on the statue in hopes it would protect the child in the other world. Sometimes they even put toys and cartoon figurines around ojizo-sama, who are also said to be protecting children from illness. The Japanese believe that all living and non-living things have a life and soul. That's why they often dress up ojizo-sama statues in hats or some other type of clothing to protect them from cold weather. Ojizo-sama are also believed to protect firefighters and travelers. Thus, these statues can be even seen along lone roads. Particularly in Kyoto, there are something over 5000 of ojizo-sama statues.
82: These are just a few examples of how the temples used lighting to artistically display the Autumn colors. There were signs posted up asking the guests to not pick the leaves so many others can enjoy the same elegance. We also noticed the temple cultivating new babies in pots by a tea house. They were in little tea cups. Perhaps they were going to use it for table pieces... | This design was from an end of a metal rod that protrudes from the temple roofs. Ryan struggles to take this picture. I was wondering what he was doing. He loved the intricate details of many of the temple structures. Some had angry god faces while others had leaves or crest like emblems.
83: Many of the temples offered matcha green tea and amazake as refreshments at around 500 yen per cup. It was nice and warm, not too hot. It came with a traditional pretty sugar candy. Got to remember to get matcha powder at Teramachi and the sugar candies at Takashiyama Department Store! Amazake is a special Japanese treat, "sweet sake."
84: We love Okonomiyaki! This was interesting. It's really a good restaurant along the alley way where the club Imaginium was/ Ryan and I had a pizza okonomiyaki, beef tongue, and a number of other things. We even had their melon soda which had an ice cream inside. We found this place after gallivanting on side streets and we returned twice after. I think we found this place after visiting Eikando the first time. The hours were very odd.
85: Tofukuji Tuesday.November.27 This temple was one that June really wanted to go to for a night showing but we didn't have time to squeeze it in. On our last day, we were suppose to go to Osaka to shop before we went to the airport but instead, I suggested we should go and check out Tofukuji since her Obachama personally recommended it as well. I thought sticking to what we know instead of trying to figure out some place new would help us be more efficient with our time. | The reason why we didn't make it here for a night showing was because we went to Eikando twice. The last two temples we visited in Kyoto was the most beautiful - Eikando and Tofukuji. They had the best fall colors. Just one more day would've been prefect but we had to balance our shopping into the mix too! The valley up to the Kaisando, spanned by its three bridges are famous for its maple leaves in Autumn. These are the pictures from that look out.
86: The Sanmon Gate This gate is on the right is a National Treasure as it is the oldest Zen main gate in Japan. The Zendo Meditation Hall, Tosu Lavatory, and Yokushitsu Bathing Room are also survivals from the early 14th century. The Hondo Main Gall and the Hojo Priest's Quarters are recent reconstructions. The temple grounds are immaculate and it is said that the person who created this temple took 19 years to build it.
88: The Garden of the Hojo The Hojo, the head priest's former living quarters, is one of Tofukuji's two paid areas. Rock gardens were often built alongside hojo buildings, but the gardens at Tofukuji's Hojo are unique for surrounding the building on all sides. Each garden has a different character, employing pebbles, large rocks, moss, trees and checkered patters. The Hojo was most recently reconstructed in 1890 while the gardens are relatively modern creations dating back to 1939 and created by Mirei Shigemori. He was a famous garden builder. His intent was to express the simplicity of Zen in the Kamakura period with the abstract construction of modern arts. | The Southern Garden This garden in front of the Hojo is the most contrived works among the four gardens. It is composed of four rock-composites symbolizing Elysian Islands - from the East to West named "Eiju, Horai, Koryo, and Hojo" - placed on the sand garden floor "Hakkai" (meaning the eight rough seas) and five moss-covered sacred mountains at the right corner, the west side.
89: The Eastern Garden Seven cylindrical stones are arranged in the moss field so as to represent main stars of the Great Bear of heaven. These stones were originally foundation-stones used at other places in the temple.
90: The Western Garden Compared with rigidity of the Southern Garden's Zen-Style (dry stone garden), this garden has a gentle style composed of moss and azalea-shrubs trimmed in a checkered pattern in imitation of "Seiden", a Chinese way of dividing land. | The Northern Garden Square-cut stones and moss are distributed in a small-sized checkered pattern. This garden faced on the "Tsuten" bridge and gorge noted as an autumn-tinted valley "Sengyokukan".
91: Beautiful Autumn Colors These were more of the amazing pictures we took on the temple grounds. It was breathtakingly beautiful and inspiring! I've never seen such a fiery red color on leaves.
92: Haruka Express Only took us 1 hour 15 minutes to get to Osaka airport. It took us right underground to the basement. This was the most convenient method of transportation from Kyoto Train Station to Osaka Airport. No transfers or having to transfer our luggage. We stayed a little later in Kyoto and gave up our planned shopping trip at the airport so we got their "giri-giri" (barely on time). We really had no spare time after picking up our bags from ABC to check in. We had a little time to scarf down a snack inside the check-in gate and rushed to buy some mochi at a convenience kiosk then made our way down to the gate.
93: Sayonara Kyoto and Japan! So we covered most of the Kyoto temples we wanted to go to. I wish we had more time to go up to the day excursions we had planned: Nara Deer Park; Hiei-Zan and Enryakuji, the mountain temple; Arashiyama and the monkeys... I was so afraid that Ryan would be so immersed and mesmerized with Tokyo that he wouldn't find Kyoto as entertaining but he loved it. He wanted to come back and spend more time here (without cutting out Tokyo, of course). I'm glad I was able to accomplish my mission to give him a "taste" of the two sides of Japan. I was pleased with the amount of ground we covered in the short amount of time. Considering we had only 13 days, I would say, "mission accomplished!" Ryan: I wish we had more time here. It was a major city but it wasn't as condensed as Tokyo. The temples were a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle right outside their walls. I can't wait for the next trip! Words can't describe the excitement I felt when I got to go to Japan. I know that there are many other place to see but I can't wait for the next trip back here. Hopefully the dollar to yen ratio stays good so we can plan for our next Japan outing to Hokkaido and the Ice Festival! | Arrived in Honolulu