Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kyoto, Japan part 3

We spent the day trying to see everything else in Kyoto. Well, we tried. We got a late start out of the hotel because we had to figure out how to cram it all into our suitcase. The real issue was that some of it was still wet from the downpour we were caught in the day before. I’m sort of dreading what shape the clothes will be in once we get to Tokyo. Fortunately the hotel has a washer/dryer, but I’m still hoping we can hold off until we get home. Who wants to spend time on vacation doing laundry?

Our first stop was a place not in our tour book, but something recommended to Masumi by her travel agent. We went to a bamboo forest. Hearing we were going to go there, Ashley’s stuffed Panda, Bialashu, insisted on joining us in our adventures. We walked all around the area. The bamboo must have been at least 100 feet tall – as tall as any forest of trees we’ve visited in the states. Bamboo regenerates itself every three years, making it a great tree to grow and use. 

According to her agent, this is the perfect time of year to go to a bamboo forest. Who knew they had seasons! 

In the bamboo forest is a shrine to the god of hair. Masumi said it is the only one she knows of.

To get to the bamboo forest, we had to take a tram. So add that to the list of transportation we have now taken on this trip. The tram had two lines, so we also took the other line through the cherry blossoms. This time of year they only look like regular trees, but next time when we hear about the cherry blossoms in season, we’ll be able to picture it. We went up to Kinkaku-ji, the golden pavilion, but we were not able to see it without paying 400 yen, we did not go in. We are seriously tired of shrines and temples. Tomorrow’s forecast is calling for rain and we are calling for a day of sleeping in, shopping, American food and baseball (fortunately the Seibu Dome is covered).

Meanwhile, Masumi and Hiroko took a scenic train ride and we continued to explore Kyoto on our own.

After the temple, we took the express bus to Ginkaku-ji – another temple with a tourist-trap of a street leading up to it. Tried to find lunch, but all the options were Japanese food.

This is the northern end of The Philosopher’s Walk, one of Kyoto’s best-loved spots – the part of the canal lined with cherry blossoms. Again, we were not in cherry blossom season. We thought this would lead us to Kyoto University. Unfortunately this mostly lead us to a desolate area in Kyoto (who knew) and we were starting to stress out about eating dinner before catching our train to Tokyo.

The Philosopher’s Walk is about a mile long. It is very serene. There are a lot of temples along the way. We even passed a couple of used-Kimono shops (no time to pop in). It seemed to take us forever to find a bus stop. Just another adventure! On a less
hungry stomach, and without a hungry kid going through a growth spurt, the walk would have been much more romantic.

We took the bus to Kiyomizu Temple, mostly to explore the nearby marketplace. We shut the place down – noticing a theme about this yet? We saw tourists from all over the world at this temple, and the temple was free. It felt like a mini trip to the United Nations.

Back down the hill to catch a bus to Kyoto Station. By this point it was about 6. We probably should have called it a day and gotten a nice, relaxing dinner. Instead we hopped on the South-5, a bus that only runs twice an hour, to dash up to see the torii gates at the Fushimi Shrine. This a long line of red gate
after red gate after red gate. Well, you get the idea. Very photogenic. Open 24 hours a day. Unfortunately we only had about 10 minutes to enjoy it before dashing down the hill to catch the bus back to Kyoto Station, to meet up with Hiroko (who thoughtfully collected our luggage from the hotel) and forage for food. We failed on the last part of the mission.

We should be in Tokyo in about 30 minutes. I suspect we have to figure out a different train to take us to Shinjuku Station, and then walk 10 minutes with a suitcase, three day bags, and a sound asleep Ashley.

Tomorrow is a planned rest day.

More pictures of Kyoto
Kyoto Part 1
Kyoto Part 2

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