We had continental breakfast at the hotel buffet, and then got ready to go to Higashiyama, which contains many temples, as well as the old town. We took the subway to get as close as possible, but we still had to walk for about 20 minutes to get to the Gion District, which is the old town. There, we found the street that is supposedly one of the prettiest in Asia, according to our guidebook. The street was right next to a stream, and trees lined both sides. It had started raining, and continued raining throughout the day, so our umbrellas were in constant use.
We then continued walking on to Kiyomezu-dera, which is one of the most well known attractions of Kyoto. As we got closer, we saw more and more tourists, and the streets were all lined with shops. There were little statues of gods at some points, and there were signs that said to touch them to earn merit, and come across good fortune. There were deities of victory and wealth as well.
When we got to Kiyomezu-dera it was pretty crowded, but you could already see how large it was, and how majestic. The air smelled of incense, and you could see that there were many opportunities to burn it. There were many extremely symbolic actions you could do, for example there were two stones several meters apart, and it is believed that if you could walk between these two stones with no help with your eyes closed, then you would find true love, but if you needed someone to help you, then you would need help finding love. There was also a waterfall that is divided into three streams, the Otowa Waterfall. It is said to cause longevity if you drink from it, which we did.
After that we walked through the streets of the old town to another pagoda, the Yasaka-no-To Pagoda. Then we went to a small teashop we had seen earlier, where we had tea, and I had ice cream. We chose this shop mainly because it had a large koi pond right outside where we were sitting, and a small garden. That’s another thing I was noticing, that no matter how close together the houses were, most of them still had a small private garden attached.
We then walked up a small hill to a temple that had a large statue, commemorating soldiers that had fallen in the war. We were given a stick of incense there as well to put in sand. You could go into the statue’s stomach, and there were various small statues that all represented different animals and years. After, we walked to the Chion-in Temple. This is one of the largest temples in Japan. The gate in front of it was already huge, and it boasted the largest bell in Japan. Unfortunately, the temple itself was under construction, so we couldn’t actually see it. As with most temples in Japan, there was a large, lovely garden surrounding it, and we noticed huge lily pads, and after the flowers bloomed, they turned into what sort of looked like a shower head. Throughout Kyoto, the radiation level stayed pretty much the same, at 0.09uSv/h, so about 0.79mSv per year.
We then walked a little bit to the next temple, Nanzen-ji. On the way, we walked past a gas station, and I noticed how different it was from the USA. They had staff that didall the work for you; it wasn’t necessary to get out of the car. Also, the nozzle came from the ceiling; there were no actual “stations.” Something else I noticed is that the taxis were a little different as well, the back doors opened automatically so the passengers didn’t have to do it themselves. Something I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet but is pretty important, is that the Japanese drive like they do in England, on the right side of the road. This is something I have gotten used to since the beginning of my trip. And since the streets are so small, most of the cars I have seen are a lot thinner than the ones in the US.
We got to Nanzen-ji, and looked at the gate, which is more a symbolic gate than an actual gate. What was special about this temple was that an aqueduct ran right next to it. As always, there was a beautiful garden, and as always, it was filled with very green plants.
We then walked up the famous path of philosophy. This path was a beautiful little walk from Nanzen-ji to Ginkaku-ji. It was right by a little stream, and there were trees lining one side, and homes, shops, and restaurants lining the other. Unfortunately, many of the shops were closed. We stopped in one of the small cafes to have lunch, called cafeteria Kafuka. I had curry with rice, and my dad had a tuna sandwich. This place was filled with small little trinquets, as well as plastic flowers. After we walked to Ginkaku-ji, or the Silver Pavilion. What is ironic about this temple, is that it was never completed, so it isn’t actually silver. Its garden was located on the hillside, and its views over Kyoto, or over the part of Kyoto that you could see through the rain, was beautiful.
We then walked to a subway station, to go back to the hotel. We decided to have dinner in Kyoto Station, since there are so many options. As we were walking up the stairs, we noticed that from the bottom, the lights on the stairs created a picture. We ate lunch at a ramen restaurant, and at first it was a little confusing because we had to order outside the restaurant on a little machine, and then give the waitress the little paper with our order that came out of the machine. On the way back to the hotel, there was a little water show that was to popular music.