Journey Through Japan

Day 14, 14JAN20017

Because we did not make it to our futon beds until well past midnight last night, Josh and I opted to sleep in until lunch time today. When we set out finally for our visitations, we had our two-day subway and bus passes in hand.

The 2000 yen pass ultimately saves you a great deal of money on transportation, so we were glad we bought it, however if you’re visiting Kyoto and you stay in a central location such as we did, you can definitely walk or bike ride from place to place so long as its warm and you’re up for a hearty stroll. Considering it snowed blankets today we were exceptionally proud of our planning and passes.

Our first stop today was Kinkaku-Ju Temple, a Buddhist Temple situated in the northern recesses of Kyoto. We traveled to the highly ranked destination via bus 59 and felt as though we truly knew our way around this new city already.

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Learning the ropes of Kyoto Public Transport

At this point in the late morning the sun was shining and although the air was crisp and cold, we had no idea what was coming. So we set off through the moss covered gardens past towering bendy trees, and entered the Kinkaku-Ju Temple grounds.

The entrance fee to this temple includes a beautiful calligraphy ticket, not sure what it says, however we both were taken by it.

Then, in no time at all we were taken by the temple itself. Around a bend in the path we were greeted with the sight of a pure gold Temple rising from the dense green and clear water surroundings.

The sight was absolutely mesmerizing as we could not snap enough photos. Each time the wind changed in our environs the reflection of the temple on the water too would change.

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Then suddenly the sky erupted with thick snow and the scene took on yet another entirely different look.

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We walked along the water front and with each outcropping in the path, bend in the shore, and inch we came closer to the two storied place of worship, the more beautiful and transcending it became.

Camera worked well and hard, we continued beyond the temple into the hills that surrounded the grounds, stopping to bow at various statues of seated Buddha and toss coins into water wells for good luck. There were a great deal of quiet spots in this Temple’s grounds for one to stop and contemplate. It was truly a relaxing and beautiful landscape.

At the end of the stroll the snow was falling heavy yet people congregated outdoors in large groups around various edifices to bow and pray.

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Josh and each lit a candle at this conclusion, mine was for relief from anxiety and Josh chose the candle with the inscription “for marriage.”

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Departing the temple and its ground we both warranted a place without the wet cold snow to warm up. We chose to stop at the very first place we came across, up a skinny winding stair case a small café overlooked the snow caped temple entrance and busy streets below. The ladies kindly greeted us with water and we ordered piping hot tempura udon, fired chicken, and roasted steamed milk green tea.

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The meal was extremely satisfying and just as we were about to become too warm to enjoy sitting inside much longer the snow cleared and we made our way east towards a large collection of family Buddhist Temples.

Daikaku-Ji is a large complex surrounded by a stone wall and zoned inside to accommodate several different family temples.

A few of the temples are opened to the public and Josh and I happened upon one where from the outside the seven foot tall stones were dominated by twenty foot tall bamboo trees.

Katoin-Ji was a pleasant and intensely silent temple. The grounds were entirely opened and visited in socks (our shoes had to be relived at the opening of the home). We walked through the home, a series of interconnected rooms yet again walled simply by paper. There were tatami mats on the inside portions of the home, and a carpeted wooden verandah that wrapped around the entire house.

Shuffling from one place to the next we settled momentarily on a porch that overlooked snow falling from the Bamboo into little creeks, shrubs and bonsai trees.

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The home’s statue was that of the samurai patriarch founder – his statue was viewed when one bowed before his offerings in a small living room. Niether one of us were truly expecting to see what we saw when we bowed low enough to view the man beneath the hanging banners. The face that greeted us was terrifying to say the least, ghoulish and striking to expand further. His face was sullen, his eyes stretched wide, it was as if we were actually staring at the man in real life, yet in severe old age.

A little creeped out, we departed the complex entirely and caught a bus to the subway station. Our next stop was the Kyoto International Manga Museum.

Manga has a storied past, various cartoons both satirical, informative and entertaining, make up the numerous forms of Manga. Josh and I explored the museum set in a former elementary school in central Kyoto and learned the early origins of the art form up until how it has become quite the frenzied calling today.

At the end of our tour, Josh and I sat for a caricature drawing where we were morphed into anime characters. We both found the painting to be a fabulous depictions of ourselves!

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Post Manga we caught a series of buses and subways to the Toji Temple at the southern end of Kyoto. The complex was closed for the evening, however the gilded multi-tiered tower was lit up in the night and we could see the highest Pagoda in Japan stretch over the walls.

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It was now spitting snow and the wind was maniacal. Instead of waiting for the next bus which would take twenty minutes, we opted to power walk back to Kyoto Station and turn in for the night. Not a bad day of sightseeing considering we had such a late start!

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