Journeys in Japan, Part 7: Kyoto, Day 2

I began my second day in Kyoto in Arashiyama, a quiet district in the western outskirts of the city. The area has been popular since the the eighth century, when nobles would enjoy its natural beauty. I started the morning at Togetsukyo Bridge, which is supposed to offer a nice view of the surrounding landscape. However, there had been a typhoon in Japan just a few days prior and the river below was completely brown. Still, it wasn’t a huge disappointment and I soon moved on to Tenryuji Temple.

IMG_0586

IMG_0606

The muddy water below Togetsukyo Bridge.

Tenryuji is ranked among Kyoto’s five great Zen temples and was founded in the fourteenth century. Besides its impressive temple building, the complex also contains beautiful gardens and walking paths.

IMG_0619

Tenryuji Temple.

IMG_0626

Koi, koi, koi!

IMG_0637 IMG_0641 IMG_0644 IMG_0647 IMG_0654 IMG_0655 IMG_0659 IMG_0665 IMG_0666 IMG_0669

IMG_0677

Beautiful bamboo behind Tenryuji.

IMG_0679 IMG_0687 Right beside Tenryuji were peaceful and beautiful bamboo groves. The sunlight streaming through the tall bamboo stalks created a particularly beautiful effect.

IMG_0693

Entering the bamboo groves.

IMG_0698 IMG_0701 IMG_0706 IMG_0710

Next it was on to Jojakkoji, a small mountainside temple founded in the 16th century. The temple had a quiet and understated atmosphere, with gorgeous maple trees and moss throughout the grounds.

IMG_0724

Sign outside Jojakkoji Temple.

IMG_0725

IMG_0731

The first sign of fall.

IMG_0734

The entrance to Jojakkoji.

IMG_0739 IMG_0744 IMG_0748 IMG_0749 IMG_0755 IMG_0757 IMG_0762 Close to Jojakkoji but even more nestled into the forest was Gioji Temple. This temple had an amazing moss garden that made it seem like it was something out of Middle Earth or Narnia. It had an incredible otherworldly quality to it.

IMG_0780

Otherworldly Gioji Temple.

IMG_0783 IMG_0787 IMG_0790 IMG_0793 IMG_0795 IMG_0801 IMG_0806 After Gioji, I wondered through the Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street. The buildings in this street are preserved in the style of the Meiji Period (19th century) and many of the private residences have been converted into interesting shops and restaurants.

IMG_0812

An interesting shop on Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street.

IMG_0811

IMG_0814

A Shinto roadside offering.

IMG_0821 IMG_0824 Beyond Saga-Toriimoto Street was the astonishing Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple. This temple is famous for its 1200 stone statues of rakan, devoted followers of Buddhism, each with a different facial expression. The temple covers part of a forested mountain slope and is quite a peaceful place. While Shonte and I were there, there were no other visitors, which added to the temple’s quiet mystical atmosphere.

IMG_0833

The approach to Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple.

IMG_0838

The many faces of Otagi Nenbutsuji.

IMG_0832

IMG_0840 IMG_0849 IMG_0850 IMG_0855

IMG_0856 IMG_0863 IMG_0866 IMG_0869 IMG_0871 IMG_0876 IMG_0881 IMG_0882 IMG_0889

IMG_0891

The interior of Otagi Nenbutsuji.

IMG_0907

Writing on the back of the statues.

IMG_0915

One of the fearsome guardians of Otagi Nenbutsuji.

IMG_0916 Near Otagi Nenbutsuji was our final stop in Arashiyama, Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple. This was another impressive site, founded in the early ninth century. A famous monk placed stone statues for the souls of the dead there.

IMG_0924

At Adashino Nenbutsuji.

IMG_0925

IMG_0927

An unusually round structure, something you don’t see often in traditional Japanese architecture.

IMG_0932 IMG_0935 IMG_0937 IMG_0938

IMG_0951

Lunch time!

From Arashiyama, we traveled to Nijo Castle, built in the 17th century as the Kyoto residence of the shogun, the hereditary military governor of Japan during the feudal era. Nijo Castle is considered the best surviving example of feudal Japanese castle palace architecture. The castle interior was quite impressive, as were its expansive gardens and grounds.

IMG_0955

The moat of Nijo Castle.

IMG_0958

The impressive entrance to Nijo.

IMG_0970

Beautiful Nijo gardens.

IMG_0975

IMG_0979

Fish swimming with the light.

IMG_0985 IMG_0987 IMG_0991 IMG_0992

IMG_0995

The Nijo Castle grounds from above.

IMG_1001 After Nijo, it was off to Heian Shrine. This Shinto shrine only dates back to the nineteenth century but is still impressive for its architectural beauty.

IMG_1020

The entrance to Heian Shrine.

IMG_1022

Prayer slips.

IMG_1026 IMG_1042

IMG_1039

The white tree was made of many slips of white paper with prayers on them.

IMG_1041 IMG_1048 My final stop for the day was Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto’s most famous site and one of the most celebrated temples in all of Japan. It was founded in the eighth century in the wooded hills east of Kyoto. The temple complex is quite expansive and contains some astounding architectural and natural sights.

IMG_1057

The entrance to Kiyomizudera Temple.

IMG_1060 IMG_1082 IMG_1088 IMG_1089

IMG_1097

A beautiful view from Kiyomizudera.

IMG_1110

The main hall of Kiyomizudera.

IMG_1113

A beautiful view of Kyoto from Kiyomizudera.

The grounds behind the temple were also beautiful and provided some excellent views of the temple from afar. IMG_1119

IMG_1125

Light from the setting sun creating a neat effect on trees near Kiyomizudera.

IMG_1126

Looking up at Kiyomizudera from below.

IMG_1130

The Otowa Waterall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream’s water is said to have a different benefit, but drinking from all three streams is considered greedy!

IMG_1133 The streets in front of Kiyomizudera were filled with stores and shops and I couldn’t resist stopping by one for a steamed bun. I hadn’t had a good one since leaving the United States and I had quite a craving. We also stopped at a soft-serve ice cream place which offered an impressive variety of flavors.

IMG_1066

The streets in front of Kiyomizudera.

IMG_1141

IMG_1143

A delicious steamed bun!

IMG_1145

An impressive array of soft-serve ice cream flavors.

After a cheap dinner nearby, we headed back to our hostel and got a good night’s sleep.

IMG_1156

Good night, Kyoto.

In the morning I took the bullet train back to Tokyo and had a great meal of sushi at one of Tokyo’s top-rated sushi restaurants for lunch. It was quiet and out of the way and provided an authentic Japanese sushi dining experience.

IMG_1159

A delicious lunch of sushi in Tokyo.

IMG_1161

Miso soup.

With my belly full of delicious sushi, I made the trip back to Narita airport and boarded a flight back to Busan. It had been another marvelous trip in Japan and I hope I can return again someday.

IMG_1165

Goodybe, Japan!

Advertisements

One response to “Journeys in Japan, Part 7: Kyoto, Day 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s