If you have one more day for sightseeing in Kyoto, visiting Uji is one of the choices left. Open your purse, do you have 10-yen coin in it? Please look at the back side of the coin. You will see Byodoin temple on it.
Byodoin temple is very old and it was not renovated. The buidling itself is very old and not gorgeous. However, in the old days, it was painted with colorful paint, mainly red. The people in those days believed the paradise in Pureland was in the west. When you stand in front of the pond, you will see the main hall called phoenix hall in the west. They wanted to make something like the paradise in pureland there, and it was what they thought Paradise. The face of the buddha image in the hall can be seen through the round window. As you see, the architecture represents a phoenix with its wings spread.
The images and the pictures which used to be in the hall are exhibited in Byodoin museum in the precinct along the original colored main hall using computer graphics. Those are very impressive and worth seeing. They make us feel something. I can imagine how beautiful they were and how the hall stood there.
A little walk along the path between the temple and the river brings you to the city information center. There you can enjoy Tea ceremony at Taiho-an tea room. (500yen)
If you have a little more time, how about visiting another world heritage site, Ujigami shrine?
This shrine has the oldest shirine building in Japan. It is not so showy. But please imagine this building has been there down the old ages. It has never been changed, just standing there. You will surely understand why this shrine was resistered as a world heritage site.
Uji is one of the major tea producers. There are many tea shops selling various kinds of tea. The oldest tea shop gives a service of making tea. ( Kanbayashi tea shop, and Fukujuen)
Transportation ; Uji station ( JR Nara line) 10min. walk. Uji station ( Keihan line ) 5 min. walk
Byodoin ; ( Admission 600 yen, The main hall 300 yen)
Temple 8:30 AM - 5;15 PM
Museum 9AM - 4;45PM
The main hall 9:10 - 4:10
Ujigami shrine : no admission
Taiho-an tea room : open Jan. 10th - Dec. 20th 10AM - 4PM 500 yen
Kyoto is an old city and the old capital in Japan. That's why there are many world heritage sites. And some of them are very famous and popular among not only foreign toursts but Japanese tourists. Kiyomizu temple and Kinkakuji temple are always very crowded, and sometimes you have to wait a little while just to take a simple photo.
In Ninnaji temple, you don't worry about waiting to take pictures. When you get off a bus, the old gate will come into your sight. It is not gorgeous, but I am sure you will be impressed. This temple had been relationship to Imperial family untill the end of Edo period.(1868). Imperial family had been sending one of them as a monk to this temple. So, the building of this temple has an imperial style and atmosphere.
Walking on the corridor, you may notice it has two tiers. The upper tier is for a person in a higher position, the lower one is for a person in the lower position, and the ones in the lowest had to walk on the ground. A white sand garden opens up in front of you. There is a cherry tree on the left, and a mandarin orange on the right. You can see the same style in the Old Imerial Palace. Go on walking, and the beautiful garden will be waiting for you.
Just sit down and view this garden. Spend some time here. In the distance, the Pagoda will join this sight. Pay attention to the window. Usually the buildings in temples have sliding doors and windows. The window of the building in this temple is different from those in other temples. You also see the same ones in the Old Imerial Palace. Yes, this is the Imperial style.
Let's take a look at Pagoda in the back. The pagoda was built by the Edo method. What is Edo method? I wil tell it to you at the site. Next to the Pagoda, there is Golden hall ( Kondo). It used to be the main hall of Imperial Palace (so-called Shishinden). It was moved here.
As I said above, you can fully enjoy this temple. Why don't you put this temple in your visiting list of Kyoto? You should not miss it!One thing must be added. Cherry blossoms in this temple is very famous and full crowded in middle and late April. During this period, you have to see a lot of Japanese tourists and it is very crowded.
The nearest bus stop : Omuro Ninnaji
From Kyoto station :City bus No. 26
From sanjo keihan : City bus No. 59
From Kinkakuji or Ryoanji : City bus 59
Time : 9AM - 4:30PM(Mar. - Nov.)
9AM - 4PM ( Dec. - Feb)
During the cherry season, they take an additional admission to see cherry blossoms.
I replanned the tour along with their request after meeting, which made us take an unusual tour course.
The first leg of the tour was phylosophy path. I suggested visiting Ginkakuji temple before walking the path. To tell the truth, I like Ginkakuji better than Kinakuji. Of course, Kinakuji is very gorgeous and worth seeing. However, I can feel oldness and authentic beauty of Higashiyama culture in Ginkakuji. In addition, you can see the sand garden depicting the moon and the lake and the ground covered with moss along with the pond.
After vistiing the temple, we walked along Phylosophy path. This path is beatiful in cherry season and autumn colored season. It was not in such a season, but just taking a walk was enjoyable.
We talked a lot waking along the path, and they listened to the topics in variety.
The day before, they missed Nijo castle due to their late arrival. The second leg was Nijo castle.
I explained how Samurai appeared, why Shogunate system started, why the last shogun of Tokugawa decided to return the power to the Emperor and so on. They really listened to my story with interests. At the private section of Shogun in the buiding, I talked about the system of so-called O-Oku, the women's area of the castle,and the wives of Shogun.
Then, we headed for Arashiyama to see and walk in Bamboo forest. When we entered the forest, they said it was a different world. Just before that, we were walking in the crowd. The atomosphere was quite different.
We took the course to Gioji, which has a small moss garden. A few days before it rained much, so it was more beautiful than when I came last. We taked about the sad story of Gio, and we thought about how she felt at that time.
Then we visited Rakushisha. When we arrived here, I explained it is a second house of Mukai Kyorai, a student of the great poet, Matsuo Basho. To my surprise, he knew about Basho and Haiku. Haiku is a kind of Japanese poems. It consists of 5 moras(syllable) and 7 moras and 5 moras. It is not long, and a deep meaning or feelings must be in this short poem. When we read the poem, we imagine how the poet felt, what the scene is like and secret meanings in it. It is hard to understand but if we can know the world of poems, I think it is more interesnting.
This time, they asked many questions and paid attention to various things like our culture, history and usual life. Sometimes it is hard to explain all of them. But it was very fun to me.
photos : Ginkakuji temple, Phylosophy path, the garden in Nijo castle, Dango, Bamboo forest, Gioji temple, the tourists
Tourists ; a couple from Spain
Date : Sep. 26th from 9 AM to 5 PM
Tour ; Ginkakuji temple, phylosophy path, Nijo castle, Bamboo forest, Gioji temple, Rakushisha
We started the tour from their hotel, Mume hotel, in Gion. As they had walked and walked in the eastern area the day before, we decided to start our tour from Nijo castle. I like taking photos,too, and I have a CANNON single-lens reflex camera( though I usually don't take it because it needs more space in my bag) Just seeing someone taking photos with such a camera is much fun to me.
When we got out of the garden of Ninomaru Palace(Nijo castle), I heard the music usually used for the Shinto style wedding. So, we changed the direction and went to Seiryoen in the palace. This was the second time to see the wedding.
She took many pictures using telephoto lens. Thinking that this was her honeymoon trip made me feel a little funny - a honemooner takes a photo of a wedding...
Later we talked about their wedding and her beautiful wedding dress. I took a look at the pictures of her wedding dress stored in her camera! The dress was very very long, gorgeous. It was the very dress that she had dreamed of. That was the first dress she saw at the shop, and at the momonet she saw this dress, she decided without hesitation to make it her wedding. Yes, it was really a wonderful and beautiful dress.
Koto-in in Daitokuji temple was their request. The next leg was Koto-in, one of my favorite tempels. It was as beautiful as usual. I especially like the path to the entrance.
I came Ryoanji rock garden and Golden Pavillion so many times as a guide. But this time, I was impressed lotus flowers on the pond. It was most beautiful this season.
a lotus flower is said to be a flower of truth in Buddhism. That's why there are so many lotuses here.
After that we went to walk in Bamboo forest and along the riverside of Hozu river.
Date ; Sep. 19th
Tourist : a couple from Italy
Tour : Nijo castle, Koto-in (Daitokuji temple), Kinkakuji temple, Ryoanji, Bamboo forest and Hozu river
What we call Sento gosho is the one combined with two palaces, Sento Gosho and Omiya gosho.
Retired emperor lived here in Sento gosho and Empress lived in Omiya gosho. The building of Sento gosho was not rebuilt after it burnt down by the fire, so now there is no building in Sento gosho.
The building of Omiya gosho is used as an accomodation when Imperial family visits Kyoto. And the late Princess Diana stayed there when she visited Kyoto.
It has a circuit style garden. The place you stand is the front of the garden, which means you can enjoy the beauty of the garden from wherever you are in the garden. In old days, Emperor and Empress seldom went out of the Palace. They enjoyed four seasons walking around the garden.
This is a kind of beach. As you know, Kyoto doesn't have sea. We can understand how they yearned for sea. To tell the truth, each stone of the water side is very precious. In those days, just a stone could be valued as a life-long amount of rice.This stone lantern was presented by Shogun.
These two buidings are tea houses.
To visit Sento Gosho, you are required to make a reservation in advance. You can do it through the internet. If you find it fully booked, and if you have time to visit the imperial house hold agency in the palace, please go and ask the availability. They have some vacancies for the visitors who directly apply for it.
The tour of Sento gosho comes with only Japanese guide. I think you can enjoy the beauty of the garden without an English speaking guide.
Sento Gosho -- the nearest station, Marutamachi ( subway Tozai line )
Imerial Household agency -- the nearest station, Karasuma ( subway Tozai line)
the bus Karasuma Imadegawa
Admission -- free
Originately, Shinto is a nature worship. The people in the old days feared natural phenomena after starting agricutlure. They believed spirits lived in many objects like a rock, a tree, and a whole mountain. And Inari mountain regarded as Gods.In Shinto, it is said there are myriads of gods.
Inari shrines can be seen across the country and Fushimi Inari is the head shrine of them. At the beginning, it was the shrine for the god of rice. People in old days wished bumper crops in the year. Now, many people come to wish their business prosperity.
Usually a pair of lion-dogs, or lion-like creatures, could be seen in front of shrines. They are said to play a role as a guardian. However, in Fushimi Inari, Foxes are to be seen in the place. They are regarded as a messenger of God. When in Inari shrine, look at the mouth of the foxes. Some have a scroll written how to make good rice in their mouth, others have a key of rice warehouses, a ball of soul, and a rice plant, all of which are related to rice farming. According to a legend, foxes came down from Inari mountain and got a little of rice plant and offered it to the mountain gods. That's why it is said a devine messenger.
In the precinct, it has another shrine called Higashimaru. This shrine is good for academic achievement. Many students who are going to have exams like entrance exams come and pray for their success. A thousand folded paper-cranes can be seen here.
Sometimes those are folded by their friends and their parents wishing their success. If you have a wish related to academic achievement, praying here may be a key to success, I guess...
Of course, the characteristic point of this shrine for tourists is TORII TUNNEL. This links from one small shrine to the others in Inari mountain. If you walk all the legs to the top, it will take you about 2 hours. These toriis were donated by marchants and manufacturers showing their wishes and gratitudes of their success in business. It is said the price ranges from two hundred thousand yen to seven hundred thousand yen. When coming back, you see the donor's names and the date painted in black on the back of each torii gate. These donated toriis lining the paths are part of scenic view.
In the second shirne when you get out of the first torii tunnel, there are so-called OMOKARU stones. Lift one of the stones after making a wish. If you feel it light, your wish will come true. If you feel it heavy, unfortunately your wish will not be realized. How do you feel? Please try it! I will give you a knack for feeling it light!
Inari mountain itself is a holy mountain. Why don't you come and walk through the torii tunnel and feel something sacred?
Fushimi Inari : JR Inari station of Nara Line ( two stops ahead from JR Kyoto station)
Fushimi Inari station of Keihan Line.
They don't take an admission. You can visit early in the morning,too.
His mother and he got interested in so many things they came across. We stopped every time they found something, and took more time than I planned. I chose the route to Kiyomizu temple by way of passing by Yasaka Pagoda. On the street to and from Kiyomize temple, there are many shops, and they sell verious souvenirs like Japanese fans, Yatsuhashi, potteries, seven flavored hot papper and so on. Of course we got Black sesami icecream and his mother got a cucumber pickle. It was stuck with something like a wooden chopstick. His mother liked its tastes very much. She and I shared it.
When we were walking along the Ninenzaka, we stopped a certain icecream stand selling pumpkin soft icecream. The owner insisted he was the most popular icecream maker. He showed me the printed paper which said that he was No.1 in the Yahoo page and Geogle page.
I don't know whether it was true or not, but he said he used to be a chef of a certain hotel restaurant so he had the very skill to make nice and rare flavor of icecream. But I wonder why he quit this job and started icecream business.
Kyoto has a lot to see. You need a few days in Kyoto to cover most of the MUST-SEEs. If this is your first visit to Kyoto, and if you have just one or two days in Kyoto, we sometimes give up visiting Arashiyama, because there is not enough time to do so.
This time, they had four full days in Kyoto. So I chose one of the farthest places for their sightseeing. That was Arashiyama.
However, we started our tour from Golden Pavillion and Ryoanji rock garden. And then, we visited Ninnnaji temple. These three temples have different atmosphere. You can enjoy the different types of gardens in a short time. As you know, Golden Pavillion is a circuit style garden. In this type of the gardens, you can see its beauty from every point of the garden.
As you see, Ryoanji has a famous rock garden, the size of which is as large as a 25 meter swimming pool. This is a typical zen garden. The slight difference of the hight of its earthen wall surrounding the garden makes you feel the garden much larger. The sight of the garden from different points vary in each. Let's talk about the spirit of Zen there. Please feel Zen itself.
Ninnaji temple is something more like Imperial style. Until the beginning of Meiji Era, a member of Imprial Family had become a monk of this temple. So this temple has Imperial air here and there. When you enter the building. you can see the white sand with a tree in either side, a mandarin orange on the left and a cherry tree on the right. It is an imperial style. These two kinds of trees are seen in fornt of the main hall, Shishinden, in Old Imeprial Palace in the same way.
The building called Kondo is the one which was moved from Old Imperial Palace. It used to be used as Shishinden in the palace. In addition, you can see five story pagoda, too. You enjoy the garden, the pagoda and building at the same time. Actually, Ryoanji and Golden Pavillion are very famous, so many tourists come to these sites and always are crowded. However, in Ninnnaji, you can enjoy this temple without so many tourists.
We headed for Arashiyama. This area is very popular among not only foreign tourists but the domestic tourists. If you have enough time, walking from one place to the other through Bamboo forest is very enjoyable. We spent the morning visiting three temples in the northwestern area, and decided to spend the afternoon in Arashiyama.
As we had seen three nice temples, we skipped Tenryuji temple and walked along Bamboo forest.
Gioji doesn't have high religeous status. But still many people like this temple. That's because it has specific atmosphere, calmness and green of moss.
On the way back to Arashiyama station, we dropped in at Rakushisha. This is not a temple but the second house of Mukai Kyorai, the student of the great Poet, Matsuo Basho. We can see the old style of the house in the countryside in old days. Viewing it from across the field is very nice. You can imagine what it was like in the past. Rakushisha means the house with all the persimmons fallen. This is because all of 40 persimmons in this house had fallen down due to the typhoon after Kyorai made a promise to sell all of them.
After walking along Hozu river bank, our tour ended there.
Tour date : September 12th
Tourist : a couple from Norway
Tour ; Golden pavillion, Ryoanji rock garden, Ninnaji temple, Bamboo forest, Gioji temple, Rakushisha
Bamboo forest, Randen local train, Rakushisha
That's the conversation on the train getting back to Kyoto.
We went to Nara. Nara is the oldest capital in Japan. The politics in Japan started here in Nara.
However, the mordernized politics first appeared in Japan about 150 years ago.
In Nara period, the Emperor took the power and controled the nation. With the help of advisors of the emperor, the Emperor made laws, the most famous of which is the constitution consisting of 17 articles made by Shotoku Taishi. There were no parliament in those days.
Of course no election, no parlamentaians.
In the precinct of Todaiji temple, there are some trees. When we step down to the road to the main hall, we can see a tree on the roadside. It was a bo-tree called the tree of buddhism.
It is said that the buddha has reached enlightment under a bo-tree. That's why it was planted there.
The big buddha image called Daibutsu is inside the hall. It is so big that they were devided into three parts, molded in each and were assembled later. The big buddha sits on the lotus flower.
The side of this flower, the world view of Kegon sect of Buddhism is depicted.
We visited Todaiji temple, saw the big buddha, went to Kasuga shrine, went to Naramachi.
Many schoold kids were trying to go through the co-called nostril of Buddha.
One of us challenged to do it and made it!
We were so lucky because the typhoon was approaching to the district but it went through Japan sea and had little influence on our schedule.
As we had time on the train going to Nara and coming back to Kyoto. We talked a lot and I learned some Italian words.
When we said good-by, I said "Arrivedercci"
Tourists : a family from Italy
Tour; Todaiji temple, Kasuga shrine, Naramachi, Kofukuji temple
sending to Fushimi Inari shrine.
Deer, Big Buddha image of Todaiji temple, the hole of the pole in TOdaiji, Kofukuji temple,
a family from Italy, the Father and his daughter and me!
"We should go to the bathroom before visiting Nishiki market
Wao! you know well. n? Did you read my blog?
a~ah! I see. That's our conversation after finishing lunch.
It was my pleasure to know someone reads my blog.
We met at the JR shinkansen entrance. They came to Kyoto and went back to Tokyo by Shinkansen. They didn't stay in Kyoto. So I took them what they really wanted to see.
By e-mail, they requested me to take them to Fushimi Inari, Golden Pavillion, Kiyomizu temple, Nishiki Food market, Ginkakuji( Silver Pavillion) and Phylosophy path. Covering all the places in a few hours looks tough and is almost impossible. So we decided to skip Silver Pavillion and the phylosophy path.
Fushimi Inari has been getting more and more popular among foreign tourists thanks to easy access to infomation through the internet. In addition, the famous torii tunnel appeared in the movie of Memoir of Geisha, in which the young heroin runs through the torii tunnel. Do you remember the scene? They have seen this movie. After we met at the JR station, we headed for Fushimi Inari using a JR line to witness this beautiful scene on the spot!
Along with my blog(?), after visiting Golden Pavillion, we had OKONOMIYAKI lunch. They came from Malaysia so we talked about noodles. They told me what they eat in their country. It was very interesting to me! We enjoyed Nishiki Food Market. and Kiyomizu temple.
We walked along the famous street from Kiyomizu temple to Yasaka shrine. And I took them to Gion. I had to say good bye here!
Gion is the very place the movie dipicted about. They seem to have enjoyed Gion and went back to Tokyo by Shinkansen on that day. However, Kyoto has a lot of places to see and experience. I think a few hours are not enough. When they come back to Kyoto again, I will be happy to be their guide and show them around to the nice places!!
Date : Aug. 30th
Tour : Fushimi Inari, Golden Pavillion, Nishiki food market, Kiyomizu temple, Sanneizaka, Ninenzaka, nenenomichi, Yasaka shrine, to Gion
Photo 1 Fushimi Inari, photo 2 Jishu shrine in Kiyomizu temple, photo 3 Ninenzaka