6 July 2008
We planned this day to be more relaxed day in order to enjoy Kyoto. First we had to move from Ryokan to an other hotel, New Kinkaku Inn near Kyoto station. We booked this hotel from International Tourism Center of Japan in Tokyo. We arrived in the hotel at 10AM, although the check-inn was at 4PM. They took our luggage, but we could not go to the room (we understood that it works this way in most of the hotels).
We took a JR Sagano line to Saga Arashiyama station and followed the suggested route. This was really hot day. First we visited Sagano Bamboo Grove. The walking path is beautiful. I have seen the picture of that before, but being there was a lot more than the picture of Bamboo forest. Definitely one of the must see things in Kyoto. If you feel like you do not want to walk, there are opportunities to try riksha, we walked. The green light in the forest was unforgettable, and so was the heat we experienced.
The walk in Sagano Bamboo Grove has along the way lots of Zen temples. We did not enter, just wondered the surroundings. Not saying that this is much, but still, the entrance fees and closing at 5PM made as think about the temples here are like theme parks. We have visited old temples in Samui, Penang and Singapore - nobody asked entrance fee and they were open in the evenings. May be Japanese people protect their temples better?
The Arashiyama area is very beautiful. The whole area is quiet and gives you glimpse of rural life with the rice fields, greenery, gardens, quietness. There are also many interesting souvenir shops at the bamboo path.
From Arashiyama we planned to go to one of the main attractions (or may be most photographed) - Kinkakuji temple, the golden pavilion. First we took the JR line to Enmachi station and from there already a bus 204 took us to Kinkakuji-michi station. Already the entrance gave a feeling that here we can expect something special. The park ground is covered with moss. Moss is widely used in Japanese gardens, it gives very fine-looking picture together with big trees. The garden looked good, but the weather was not. When we approached the golden pavilion, it even started to rain.
The Golden Pavilion itself was really glamorous. The pavilion was built in 14th century by the then ruling shogun. After his death it became a Zen Buddhist temple. The building is covered by real gold leaf. It was suggested that you get better photo in the afternoon sunlight. That we tried but it was fully cloudy and even rained. We walked through the whole area. The temple's garden is also a scenic delight and contains in its grounds a charming teahouse. When our tour was over, the eain stopped. We ate the green-tea ice cream (very delicious and refreshing) and did the walking tour once again. Now we got a little bit better views. Kinkakuji Temple is definitely one of the must-see sights in Kyoto. There is a large viewing area where people gather to take photos of their friends, themselves and the Temple.
After Kinkakuji we went again to walk in Gion. Geisha spotting in this historical area is quite good fun and considering the number of people doing it, we were not the only ones with such mindset. We were lucky and see several geikos (so are called dressed geishas in Kyoto).