Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Packing it all in

I was talking with a friend trying to make some plans but as I told her we were headed to Kyoto and then to Mt. Takao, she sighed and said, "You are doing all the things that people do before they leave Tokyo." Kyoto is a must when in Japan. My parents came to visit and graciously agreed to mind the children for a couple of days so Jack and I could take off and visit this city known for it's temples and shrines that were spared from the bombing of WWII. Autumn is the ideal time to see Kyoto, so I mentally prepared myself for the crowds. My sister Jill visited Kyoto in June and my parents were going to take their own trip, so between those two I had a semi preplanned itinerary as they enjoy spending time pouring over information and finding out what to see and where to eat. It saves me quite a bit of time.

Kyoto is a 2 1/2 hour ride from Tokyo on the shinkansen(bullet train).

It almost looks like the train attendants are boarding a plane.

I was happy to see the changing leaves. The Japanese maple leaves are so tiny and delicate.

We had only a day and a half so we hit the main temples and the crowds really weren't too bad. This is the Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji

At the Golden Pavilion you could light a candle for a personal prayer.
It was an easy decision for both of us. Jack chose 'Find Employment' and I chose 'Alleviate Stress'.

Have faith in the burning candles...

Next was the Silver Pavilion or Ginkaku-ji. Unfortunately it was under construction, but these grounds were the most beautiful to me. Below is raked white sand, known as kogetsudai, designed to reflect the moonlight and beauty of the garden at night.

This man was sweeping the leaves off of the moss and rock. I personally think the colors of the leaves looked beautiful lying on the ground, but things are always very tidy.

Perfectly Japanese.
From the Silver Pavilion we headed down Path of Philosophy- very quaint stroll with the canal on one side and shops and cafes on the other. At the end we caught a glimpse of some sort of photo shoot.

Nanzen-Ji Temple - Enormous!

This is a typical fence for the Japanese to wrap their unwanted fortunes that they received at a temple or shrine. We chose not to get another one as last time our fortune read that our marriage was doomed, our house would be lost and a number of other tragedies were going to occur.

Fushimi Inari Shrine
There are 40,000 orange tori gates covering 4 km in the hills. We did NOT see all 40,000, maybe a few hundred??? Very cool sight. It might have been helpful to be able to read Japanese here.
This dog - or this princess was almost more eye catching than the Kiyomizu Temple we were at. The dog had an elaborate outfit on that you can't quite see. Too funny.
Kiyomizu Temple Grounds

Following Kyoto we took our friends advice and ventured with the family to Ukai Toriyama near Mt. Takao (1 hour away and 4 trains that should have been only 2). The dining experience is ultimately Japanese. The clincher for me was that we had not only our own private room, but our own private Japanese House - perfect when you plan to have a 2 hour plus meal with your children. The grounds with the fall foliage, lanterns and Japanese Houses scattered around was really beautiful.

The lobby with hot rocks to keep your hands warm. Keep your feet OFF of the tatami mats!
Our house for dinner
Walking around among the various houses. Great at night as you could look in upon others enjoying their meals.

Our house again while we were in it.

Sake served in bamboo

One hour in...starting to lose control
Our wonderfully sweet Japanese server. She tried so hard to explain the unknown foods to us in English.

1 comment:

Cynthia Murphy said...

Wow, wow, and wow. An adventure and a priceless gift to your kids.