Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Kyoto - Day 6 - Tofuku-Ji, Inari and Gion

I wake up this morning after 10 hrs of uninterrupted sleep. Bliss!!!
As we set out, very early, the sun is out and the sky is a glorious shade of blue. This morning we are visiting the valley of maples and the temple hidden in between the trees.

I am really excited about this morning, I am looking forward to the my first mineral garden. Many - including me at first - make the mistake of calling these Zen gardens, this is because they are most often found at representations of the Zen sects.

We visit the Tofuku-Ji temple first as it's quite small and as soon as the crowds arrive it will be difficult to appreciate the place.
On our way up to it, we are greeted by views over the Japanese maple valley which are breathtaking.

I spend a bit of time trying to take a good photo of the checkerboard sand but the sun is quite low so the light is far from ideal.

Ok, who stepped in the sand after it was raked down ?

Taking our time to stroll through the valley and click away from every possible direction, we are by this time not alone. Although this would annoy me greatly usually, for some reasons the Japanese are so quiet and respectful of the people around them, that is actually adds to the experience to watch them take photos of each other amongst the trees.

Leaving the shades of reds and oranges behind, we once again go back to the station for lunch. The three of us have felt like a nice Big Mac since yesterday so we make sure no one is watching and cross the road to the golden arches.

This is an area sreetmap. Very little road names in Japan, you find your way by finding the person's name on the map, compare the map against the nearest temple and hope for the best. It seems to work for them, but for us it is very confusing.

Next on the menu is Inari, a spectacular Shinto sanctuary. A long orange tunnel is created by the torii bought by corporations and individuals. The torii get smaller and smaller, but the walk up towards the mountain is stunning and the atmosphere is quite unique (if only J-P would shut up for five minutes!). This is our first Shinto site and it really is very different to the Buddhist way of things.

Before heading back down, we stop off at the gift shop - of course - to buy a few talismans for our loved ones and take some time to reads the wishes left by people on wooden fox heads. Some of the boards are decorated with quite some creativity.

We grab a bus to Gion passing by the world famous wooden temple of Kymizu-dera admiring it from afar. This started a huge debate as some were outraged that this temple was not on our list of places to visit.

Nor were we allowed to browse the over populated shopping street leading off from the temple. we were told, again, by J-P that shopping was planned in for the last afternoon of the trip! How frustrating as we rush past the shops spotting perfect gifts and knickknacks.

Two finally win over the guide and rush off to buy a few pieces of pottery they had spotted and really wanted. This gave Sis and I to discover a shop, so stunning in its pinkness we would have bought the whole shop. I grab the first three things I see and rush to hand over my Yen.

Entering into the Gion district, famous for Geisha spotting, we spot two. Click click click and then some. Before being told these are not real geisha and that it's as pretty popular thing for people to be dressed and made up as Geisha as a fun day out! *Groan*

The area is well worth a visit as tea houses are plenty each with their own courtyard garden.

The evening is spent in tourist central, seeing a show actually created for tourists.
Enough said!!!!

Not a total waste though as while wlking back to the hotel we see a few real geisha and we also discover the main shopping street and finally see Japan By Night as you imagine it.
The lights, the sounds, the people... wow.

Fave pics of the day...

No comments: