From Kyoto to Arashiyama. Visiting Kinkakuji Temple

We planned this day to be a more relaxed day to enjoy Kyoto. First, we had to move from Ryokan to another hotel, New Kinkaku Inn, near Kyoto Station. We booked this hotel through the International Tourism Center of Japan in Tokyo. We arrived at the hotel at 10 AM, although the check-in was at 4 PM. They took our luggage, but we could not go to the room (we understood that it works this way in most hotels).

We took the JR Sagano Line to Saga Arashiyama station and followed the suggested route. It was a scorching day. First, we visited Sagano Bamboo Grove. The walking path is beautiful. I had seen a picture of that before, but being there was much more than the picture of the bamboo forest—one of the must-see things in Kyoto. We walked. If you feel like you do not want to walk, there are opportunities to try a rickshaw. The green light in the forest was unforgettable, and so was the heat we experienced.

Bamboo forest in Arashiyama – Western Kyoto

The walk-in Sagano Bamboo Grove has lots of Zen temples along the way. We did not enter. We were just wondering about the surroundings. I am not saying that this is much, but the entrance fees and closing at 5 PM made us think that the temples here are like theme parks. We visited old temples in Samui, Penang, and Singapore—nobody asked for entrance fees, and they were open in the evenings. Maybe Japanese people protect their temples better.

The Arashiyama area is stunning. The whole area is quiet and gives you a glimpse of rural life with the rice fields, greenery, gardens, and quietness. There are also many exciting souvenir shops on the bamboo path.

From Arashiyama, we planned to go to one of the main attractions (or maybe the most photographed) – Kinkakuji Temple, the golden pavilion. First, we took the JR line to Enmachi station, and from there, bus 204 took us to Kinkakuji-Michi station. Already the entrance gave us the impression that we were in for something unique. The park ground is covered with moss. Moss is widely used in Japanese gardens; it provides a fine-looking picture together with big trees. The garden looked good, but the weather did not. When we approached the golden pavilion, it even started to rain.

The Golden Pavilion itself was glamorous. The pavilion was built in the 14th century by the then-ruling shogun. After his death, it became a Zen Buddhist temple. The building is covered with natural gold leaf. It was suggested that you get a better photo in the afternoon sunlight. 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 on its grounds a charming teahouse. When our tour was over, the rain stopped. We ate green tea ice cream (very delicious and refreshing) and did the walking tour again. Now we have a little bit better view. Kinkakuji Temple is 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.

Geisha in Gion

After Kinkakuji, we went again to walk in Gion. Geisha spotting in this historical area is quite fun, and considering the number of people doing it, we were not the only ones with such a mindset. We were lucky to see several geikos (so they are called dressed geishas in Kyoto).

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