Day 12: Kyoto

Yesterday, rather than classes, everyone went on a trip to Kyoto.  We got to school about an hour early and took a bus to a couple of famous places.  The first stop was at the Golden Pavilion.

One of the first small shrines we saw as we approached.  There were a lot of similar style buildings like this.

Another building as we approached the ticket booth/entrance.

The Golden Pavilion itself.
It sits on the edge of a fairly decent-sized lake, with several small islands with trees and other plants growing on them.

This is the closest you're allowed to get.

The reverse side of the pavilion, and a tree that I couldn't really get out of the picture.
More of the lake and its islands.

After the main building, we continued down the path and saw several other noteworthy... things.  There was a little wooden stand like this next to each thing, but even the Japanese student who came along with us could only sort of understand them.  So yeah, some cool narrow stairs.

Throwing in coins for good luck.  There was one other place essentially like this.  You're supposed to land the coin in either the stone bowl or the darker ceramic one in front of it.

An interesting stone structure on another island off the path a way.
Here you can see the top of one building, on the left, which has an Oni face carved into it, much like the gargoyles of Western Gothic architecture.  On the right is the Golden Pavilion, with the phoenix on top.  I wanted to try to juxtapose the two, but it was kind of hard to get a picture that worked.

Another building on the premises, along with a glimpse of just how many people were there.  It was like this everywhere; it's just that the other pictures are all from the edge of the path looking out, so you don't see many people.

One of the last, biggest shrines in the area.  People were going up, tossing in money, ringing the gongs three times, and praying.
That stop only lasted about an hour, but we saw everything there, if perhaps a bit quickly.  Next we moved on to Kiyomizudera, or the Kiyomizu Temple, or the Pure Water Temple.  First, some interesting pictures along the way.

A giant stone torii, flanked by guardian lions.  This was taken as the bus drove by.

It's looking at me.

I didn't manage to get a non-blurry picture, but at least you can read it.  Now the question is can you understand it?
When we arrived, we all got out into the blazing heat, hiked up a narrow, overcrowded street lined with shops, got our tickets, and went back down for lunch.

On our way up the hill.  The hill sloped probably close to 30 degrees the whole way up, and it was pretty long.

At the top of the hill, the first temple sights.

Looking back down from the top.  There were a lot of school groups, mostly middle and elementary, it looked like.  They come from all over the country to both of these stops regularly.

More steps and temples.

Looking up at a building.
Back down the hill on the way to lunch, we ran into some Geisha.  There were several other groups of girls going around in kimonos.  They must have been extremely hot.  It was not fun even in jeans and a t-shirt.

My lunch, oyako donburi (chicken and egg donburi).  It didn't taste very good.  I think they put raw egg on top, and it just kind of got cooked off the heat of the rest of the food.  I thought it would be solid scrambled egg bits (since it said scrambled on the menu).

My friend's lunch.  Some huge soba meal.
Back up the hill, in front of one of the lion statues.

People would wash their hands with the water from the dragon's mouth before entering the temple.  I didn't, and lots of other people didn't, but if you're doing the whole ritual, then that's what you're supposed to do.
A look inside the temple.  I didn't actually go into the main part.  That would have required taking off my shoes and we didn't have much time, and we could basically see everything from right outside anyway.

Looking over the offertory box into the temple proper.

A statue in the temple.

From inside the temple, looking off the balcony.  It had a pretty good view.

Lots of emas hanging up everywhere.  You're supposed to write your wish on a wooden plaque like these, and hang them from one of the ema walls (there were a few different locations).  Then, every month, the head priest prays to have the wishes granted/prayers answered.

Looking at the temple balcony from a distance.
There was a hill nearby with a lot of wooden posts with kanji carved into them.  Like, hundreds of them.  I'm not sure exactly what they were, but I'm sure a little research would answer that.  There were also occasional flower gardens on the hill.

A view of basically the full length of the temple.

Nearby, just off the trail.  Stone carvings wearing... something.
People lined up for quite a ways to drink from the spouts.  I think they're supposed to grant different wishes or something.  Japan is big into that sort of stuff.  I considered joining, since I was pretty thirsty at this point, but I didn't have time.

Another view of the spouts.

A pretty flower bush garden almost back to the entrance.
At this point I went back down the hill and looked through the shops, but didn't find anything really interesting. And they all had signs everywhere saying no photos.
I did buy some ice cream from a vending machine. The package lies. It wasn't "coolish." It was completely frozen for two minutes before I managed to get any out of that little spout on top. Still, it was delicious.

On our way back. The sign says "Dangerous - Bicycle hide and seek".

A massive set of train tracks we passed over on a bridge. It was pretty impressive.

Eventually we got back to the school, around 5:30 pm, and I biked home (already exhausted). The rest of the day was spent lazing around my room because I was too tired to do anything else.


  1. I'm glad you got to see some of Kyoto. It's a beautiful city. Your photos look great!

  2. How lovely! Really nice photos. One of my favorites is the one you "couldn't get the tree out of" because it so eloquently shows the Japanese aesthetic, and the natural inspiration for it.

  3. You are doing a great job conveying your experiences. I like the personalization. I'm so glad for you!

  4. bicycle hide and seek seems somehow safer here...