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Showing posts with the label Kyoto

Fushimi Inari, Tofukuji

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Sunny Sunday in Kyoto!
Today I finally got to cross the one item on my 2013 Kyoto trip list that I never got to visit: Fushimi Inari, the famous shinto shrine in the south of Kyoto with thousands of bright red torii gates. Last time I left Fushimi Inari for the last day, but then I was too late and I missed it. Not this time!
We took the JR Nara line to the Inari stop, and from there it's a 10 min walk to the shrine, which is clearly signalled along the way (although, as always, Google Maps helps). As with many shinto shrines, this one is free to visit, and has several bright red buildings containing omiyage shops(souvenirs), omikuji counters (where people buy a random paper slip with their fortune on it, and then tie it to a tree or a rack nearby), water fountains where people can wash their hands as a ritual of purification, different altars for praying, and of course the main hall. Ceremonies take place inside, and on the outside people queue to pray; they throw a coin into a big…

Kiyomizu-dera and Kodai-ji

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Sleeping on a futon over tatami is GLORIOUS. I don't know what it is about it that hits my "off" switch and instantly puts me in a deep and dreamless slumber. The alarm had to wake me up to a bright, sunny morning!
Today's Friday, so I thought it might be wise to go to Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto's most popular temple, before the weekend crowds rush in. It's a bit up on the eastern hills of the city, so wherever you're staying it's probably best to take a bus. Buying that Japanese SIM card was the best purchase I've done all trip, because now I can just look up on Google Maps where the bus stop is, which bus I need to go on, and how many stops I need to wait through. The closest to Kiyomizu-dera is Kiyomizu-michi, which is still about a 10-min uphill walk away from the actual temple.

As soon as we started ascending we started seeing more and more people joining the route, until we got to the temple itself, where all of Kyoto seemed to have gathered. There …

Gion and Pontocho

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Today we left our apartment in Tokyo and took the shinkansen to Kyoto! It wasn't one of the really fast ones though, it felt like it had a lot of stops on the way...


This time I managed to look out the window and see the scenery change. The landscape began very urban while we were leaving Tokyo and then Yokohama, then turned suburban, and at one point all I could see were ghastly factories surrounded by small houses spewing white smoke onto the sky. It made me think of a daytime version of FF7's Midgar. I think it wasn't until we were past Nagoya and getting close to Kyoto that the industrial areas gave way to forested mountains in beautiful autumn colours.
We arrived in Kyoto at around 14:00, so we headed up to Kyoto Station's 11th floor to have a great tonkatsu lunch in one of the many restaurants there. Yeah, the 11th floor: like many Japanese stations, Kyoto's is a behemoth of a building that houses an entire department store and a score of restaurants inside. It…

Last day in Kyoto

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Today was my last day in Kyoto, so it's been pretty much a day of tying up loose ends. On the one hand, I felt pretty satisfied of having seen the most important landmarks, and on the other, I was a bit tired of temple-hopping (especially as I'm leaving tomorrow to stay at a temple), so I decided that any temples that I have left to see here will have to wait until my next visit.

I had a very slow morning, just catching up on some sleep, blogging about yesterday, and so on, and then left for Arashiyama to see the Bamboo Grove. I had been warned that it was a second-tier visit, and it's true; it's waaay too far from the centre to warrant the trip. The bamboos are beautiful, and it does get a bit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at points, but unlike the Philosopher's Path, it doesn't really have anything to spark your interest as you walk along.

Riding the train back, I noticed it stopped near Myoshinji, a big temple complex I had heard about, so I got off and too…

Kiyomizu, The Philosopher's Path, Ginkakuji

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Well, this is better! Today it was still cold, but it was sunny and the sky was clear -it was a pleasure to walk all over Kyoto today, and I did!

I started my day with a healthy Kyoto-style breakfast, which includes three different types of tofu (a Kyoto specialty, Liza explained), fish, an assortment of pickles, and rice and miso soup, of course. Seeing all the little cups and dishes arranged so beautifully can be deceiving -I ended up so full!

My first stop was Kiyomizu-dera, an impressive temple notable for its wooden deck suspended above a hill; it was assembled, without nails. It has an amazing view of the forest as well as the city of Kyoto itself. After being in the flat, dense urban jungle that is Tokyo for a week, it's refreshing to see hills and mountains. They provide a visual limit to the space you inhabit, and the uneven terrain offers great sightseeing opportunities.

Apart from overlooking the forest, there are a number of things to do at Kiyomizu. One is a pitch-bl…

Kinkakuji, Nijo-jo

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What happened?! Yesterday was all sunny and warm and wonderful and today was all gray and rainy and cold and windy and marathonian (more on that in a bit). Can we go back?

I had a moment of choice paralysis this morning, when I sat down to draft my itinerary for the day and saw all these wonderful sights asking to be explored, spread out all over the city, and virtually no idea of how to better transport myself from one place to another. In the end, though, I thought it better to start from the top and go to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion. I got myself a One Day Bus/Subway Pass as soon as I left the hotel. I'm sure it saves you money, but really what I wanted was to spare myself having to fish for exact change every time I took a bus. The JR Pass isn't super useful in Kyoto!

So I got to Kinkakuji, eventually, and it was gorgeous. My guidebook said you have to visit really early on a weekday to avoid the constant crowd, but this early in the season there were actually very few…

Arrival in Kyoto

Early this morning I left Sawanoya and Tokyo altogether -for good, because I'm not departing from there to get back to France. I was certainly a bit sad to leave Sawanoya, because it was such a nice place to stay, but I was also more than ready to move on. I saw so many different places in Tokyo that I feel satisfied of my visit.

I took the shinkansen to Kyoto. As I had been told to expect, travelling by shinkansen is quiet, it's fast, there's lots of room for your legs and your bags, it's scrupulously punctual, it doesn't shake or sway... The only disappointment was to find that I had been given an aisle ticket. Egads!

After I arrived in the gigantic Kyoto Station, the hardest part was to make the transfer to the subway -there were literally entire classrooms of children sitting on the hallways. From there, getting to Hotel Sugicho was very straightforward. The place itself looks fairly old, but it's well kept, my room is enormous, and not just by Japanese sta…