We crammed in so much today, got totally knackered doing it, but had a great time! Got up early and had breakfast at the hotel. We made sure we stuffed ourselves as we wanted to go through to dinner time without stopping for a big lunch. As soon as we got outside the heat hit us. It was quite sunny, but the heat was really hot, sticky and humid, and within 15 minutes walking the sweat was literally dripping off me (nice!). We planned out a route last night which took us around a few temples in the East part of Kyoto. Little did we know that we’d end up walking more than 10 miles today, virtually non-stop! I think we went through about 20 bottles of water between us.
First stop was Higashihonganji Temple. This temple’s main building was having some structural work done on it, but we managed to walk around most of it. Our guide book says this temple is the largest all-wooden structure in the world. The floorboards were absolutely massive, and felt nice and cool underfoot (you have to take your shoes off when entering any of the temples). We explored outside for a bit and then headed off to our next stop…
After another bit of walking, over the Kamo river, we arrived at the Sanjusangendo temple. This place was amazing, and its a real shame we weren’t allowed to take photos of the 1001 statues inside it. The main temple hall was lined from end to end with the statues, all looking eerily forward together. It was so cool. 🙂 Around the sides of the hall were other statues of the Buddhist deities, with little plaques telling you about them. This temple also had a really nice garden outside, really neat and tidy, so we sat down for a while near it and relaxed, took some pictures, and took it all in. Both of us could have stayed there all day really, it was that calm and serene.
Onwards to our next destination, and the 3rd temple of the day: Nanzenji Temple. Took a while to get to this one, as the map we had didn’t have all the road names on it, so we took a few wrong turns here and there, but eventually we got there after walking through the nearby Maruyama Park (where we saw this mad crow come and sit right near us and open his beak at us looking all scary like). Nanjenzi was big and looked cool, but didn’t really do anything for me. You couldn’t really go in any of the temple buildings, and there weren’t really any nice gardens to look at (well, we couldn’t find any), so we moved on.
The next temple, Ginkakuji, was at the end of what’s called the ‘Path of Philosophy‘, which is a nice walking trail that follows along a canal from the Nanjenzi area. We took some nice photos here and walked pretty slowly (we were knackered). It took us over 30 mins to get to Ginkakuji, but it was worth the wait and the walk. Not too many temple buildings were there but there was a definite peacefulness about it, and the gardens surrounding the main temple were beautiful. Lots of delicately groomed trees and plants etc, and the grass was more like some sort of mossy substance. At one point it reminded me of the yellow brick road in the Wizard of Oz… like it was all too perfect, sort of like a movie set.
By now we were getting really hungry, and really tired, and our feet were beginning to ache quite a lot, so we headed back to the hotel. On the way back we staggered through the Kyoto Gyoen National Park, which is home to Kyoto’s Imperial Palace. The park is massive, but we didn’t actually go into the Imperial Palace grounds. We might do that another day if we have time. Its one of the only places you have to get a visitors permit before you go to be allowed entry (and then it’s guided – only in Japanese).
After getting back, having a nice cold shower and changing into some non-sweaty clothes, we went out into Kyoto’s main shopping district and got some dinner (not a burger this time!!!). Tomorrow we’re going to Himeji Castle via the bullet train… we tired ourselves out today so we’re having an easy day tomorrow with only one ‘attraction’. Oh and we’re both sunburnt, so we’ll be covering up tomorrow! Loads of new pics here.