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Ohayu Gozaimasu – Good morning in Kyoto
Our Japanese bathrobes (Yukata). They gave us these robes, with silk pajamas and toe socks to wear around the ryokan.
Anjin-san. Not really, but I felt like it.
I don’t know if this means anything different in japanese.
Toilets in Japan – picture-worthy. It’s everything you never knew you wanted in a toilet; Heated seats, air freshener, sound effects to muffle any embarassing noises, bidet and water spray to clean with.
Our room – called Umekoyomi meaning “plum diary”
Our hostess Tomoko. She was incredibly helpful and had a voice that was hypnotizing. She would sit down with us each morning and ask us what we had planned for the day. Then she would pull out a map, show us where to go and how to get there..
A map of our morning neighborhood. The red indicates the train station. From there we’ll walk the main road till we get to the bridge where we will cross the river.
There’s the bridge.
We decided to avoid all the tourists and walk the riverbank on the opposite side.
We followed along the path.
And watched boats ford the river.
Flaming monkey but! Part of a sign warning visitors about forest fires.
Some colorful moss.
We followed the trail up the mountain.
It eventually let us to a small Buddhist retreat. First we came upon a bell tower…
We were encouraged to ring the bell. But only twice.
Past the bell tower was another structure.
Inside that building is a meditation room.
One sits in the room…
…and contemplates the Buddha….
…if they aren’t distracted by the increadible view across the river valley.
That’s the bell tower below.
View from the bell tower.
An open yard to meditate in.
Toward the back of the open yard was a small shrine. Inside lived a whole collection of sacred objects.
The old Monk lives here and the young gal collects donations for upkeep.
On our way back down.
Entrance to our first temple, Tenru-ji Temple. This was the only picture I could take inside, right where we took our shoes off. The rest of the building was tatami mats and sliding paper walls.
The temple sits at the front of a larger piece of land that houses the bamboo garden
The property behind the temple was filled with gardens
Little froggy wishing pond.
Past the garden is bamboo forest.
Deep in the bamboo forest was another garden. Built by a famous Japanese actor, Ohkouchi Denjirou, who lived on the property.
Rock path around the garden.
In the train station on the way to the next landmark. We stopped for some green tea ice cream and saw these two ladies cooling off.
We left the temples in Arashiyama and took the train to another part of Kyoto to see the Golden Pavillion. It closes at 5pm so we had to hustle. These train cars are old restored cars from a bygone day.
We made it to the Golden Pavillion in the nick of time. And it was well worth it. A sight not to be missed.
It’s a Buddhist temple called Kinkaku-ji.
And was originally built in 1397 by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu . After he passed, his son donated it as a Zen Temple.
This is a spendid example the Japanes design ethic merging the building with the surrounding environment.
Originally there were many buildings, but they burned down. All except the pavillion.
Then in the 1950’s a young novice monk burned the pavillion down.
Afterward he went to the hill behind the pavillioin and tried to kill himself.
He survived and was thrown in jail. After a time it was discovered that he was metally ill and released.
The hillside where the monk attempted Sepukku for burning the Pavillion down. I don’t know how they did it, but it realy feels like part of the Earth from here. LIke it just grew up out of the forest.
We left the Golden Pavillion and to our surprise the most unique and amazing expereince of our entire trip. We boarded the right bus going the wrong way to get hom. After a few stops we felt like something was wrong, so we got off the bus and pulled out our map. As we were trying to figure out where we wwent wrong this gentleman appraoched us and asked if he could help. He knew enough English to make himself understood and offered to give us a ride in his car to the next bus stop, where we could meet the bus we wanted. We agreed and hopped in his car. As we drove to the bus stop we got to chatting. Many Japanese learned some English and are looking for an excuse to practice. We were a perfect opportunity for him. He told us that he was a 3rd generation business owner. That is family buys logs of a variety of types, and rips them down to planks and boards for fine woodworking crafts. He asked where were were from and told us he’s been to Phildelphia to by wood. We drove by his house and he pointed out a stack of thick logs piled to the roof of his carport. I asked him if he made anything from the wood himself. He said no, but one of his employees did. Would I like to see it? Casey and I looked back at each other, with no idea what we were getting ourselves into. So I told him we would be happy to see it, but we must be back in Gion by 7.
He turned the car around and went back to his house. We pulled in the drive way and he invited us inside. We stayed in the foyer with our shoes on and his wife came out. We greetted each other and the man disappeared into another room. He came back right away carrying a wooden box and sat on the floor to show us.. Not a lick of metal on this box. Hinges, handles and clasps, all wood. Before we could truly marvel at it, he opened it up, and inside was a bamboo flute and music stand. It was a case for his flute! Without prompting he began to play a song. It was “America the Beautiful”. We stood silently, probably with our mouths hanging open, listening to our little private concert in this strangers house. When he finished we all laughed and smiled and bowed low. Before we could express anything else, his wife came back in the room speaking frantically. Our bus was coming and we must leave if we want to catch it! The three of us charged out of the house, hopped in the car and made it to the bus stop right as the bus arrived. We got out of the car said our goodbeyes and ran to the bus. We climbed aboard and stared at each other dumbstruck by the kindness and hospitality this man demonstrated. And we didn’t even get his name.
The bus drops us off a few blocks from the ryokan. What just happened?
Our landmark agian, in the daylight. We discovered that it was a bank built by the Chinese in the late 1800’s based on European design. What do you think of that Randall?.
We needed to be back by 7pm for our special honeymoon dinner.
Seven or so courses of the most incredible food we’ve ever had. Kobe beef was one. Real Kobe beef. From Kobe. Which is not far from Kyoto. Zef so fresh.
The next morning.
Getting ready for breakfast.
Which was served in our room. The eggs were a color of orange I’ve never seen before. Casay got a picked plum with her meal that she was brave enough to try. Her face looked nothing like that when she ate it.
Breakfast guest, right outside our window.
Our first stop was Nijo Castle.
The gate to Nijo-jo.
Here is a detail. Nijo-jo was built in the early 1600’s. It’s a huge compound with a wall and moat around the outside of the property that easily takes up 6 city blocks.
I didn’t get far before a young girl approached me and asked if I wouldn’t mind if her and her classmates could take their picture with me. I guess, out in Kyoto, foreigners are a rarity.
The Shogun who built the castle had special floorboards used that chirp like a bird when they are stepped on. That way no one could sneak up on him. With all the people walking around inside it sounded like an aviary. Unfortunately, like all the temples, it was forbidden to take pictures inside.
The gardens behind the castle
There was a second interior wall and another moat.
Looking out over the compound from the wall
It’s really impossible to tell, and I know it looks like we’re in a forest, but the city is right there.
Casey heads through the second gate.
The inner compound.
From Nijo Castle we headed across town to
More Shrines, right up to the road. The old world and the new world . Just step off the curb.
This is the pagoda that is part og the Kiyomizu-dera temple. A network of small alleys link all the buildings of the temple together..
Called Chawan-zaka slope the alleyway was packed with people and shops.
Aside from the clothing I don’t think this scene looks much different that it did hundereds of years ago.
And sometimes the clothing only helped to make it feel old.
Gate at the bottom of our last shrine for the day.
At the top looking down.
The buildings that make up this temple were built in the 1630’s. Not one nail was used in their construction.
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