16-19/6/16. For a variety of reasons (the huge number of attractions, the weather, pill day, etc.) we have extended our stay in Kyoto to 5 nights. We can certainly see why the Lonely Planet Guide describes it as one of the world’s great cities. If we come back to Japan (and that is most definitely the intention) then we will be back in Kyoto because there is no way that we will have seen all there is to see.
There are beautiful gardens and wonderful temples everywhere. The street food market is fascinating – full of “What on earth is that?”, “That looks delicious”, “I’m not sure I could eat that!” moments!!! There are intriguing old parts of town full of wooden buildings in little narrow streets.
But, in a way, it is a case of sensory overload! It is too much to take in in one visit. For us at least, there is only a finite of number of temples that you can see in a few days before they blur into “one”. Much as we have enjoyed the gardens (undoubtedly our favourite sights), the danger is that we say “meh” to yet another stunning vista of greenery and water.
The specifics of what we have been doing over the last few days are as follows:-
- Thursday. Wandering around the gardens of the Imperial Palace (we didn’t apply for a permit to visit the palace(s) themselves. As the rain increased in intensity we retreated to the food market area of Nishiki to gawp and wonder at the variety of foodstuffs on display !
- Friday. A cloudy, dry but humid day. Wandering around temples and shrines in the southern Higashiyama area. Many young Japanese (both female and male) wearing traditional dress – kimonos and the male equivalent. Obviously keeping in touch with their cultural heritage – wonderful to see! The day was “made” by the evening with Asa and Satoru (see What a Wonderful Evening!)
- Saturday. Blue skies and very hot! We caught the train to an area close to the mountains to the west of the city called Arashiyama where there is the stunning garden of Okochi Sanso, developed by a film star from the silent era of the 1920s. It was very different to the other Japanese gardens we have visited – but simply drop dead gorgeous! On the way back to the centre of town we stopped off to see Kinkakuji Temple – the Golden Pavilion. This took away any breath that we had recovered from the earlier garden visit!
Sunday. The rain returned so we visited the Higashi-Honganji Temple (the largest wooden building in the world apparently – if there is a bigger one it must be enormous!) and the small but lovely Shosei-en garden, both close to our hotel, with a long reading interlude in Starbucks when the rain was at its worst!