Archives for July 2016

Kyoto: Kinkaku-ji

Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji was another reason we wanted more time in Kyoto. Once I realized it was one of the most popular buildings in Japan, it seemed like a shame to miss it. 
DSC_0130Kinkaku-ji is one of those places you are warned to arrive at before the tour buses. Unfortunately, that’s just not always possible. Especially when you travel during a region’s high season, sometimes you just have to visit a temple at the worst possible time. So that’s what we did.

And yes, it was crowded.

We basically followed other visitors down a path along the perimeter of the grounds. There were few opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery before we were pushed along by visitors coming up behind us. Before we knew it, we were back at the entrance. I was left with the feeling of, “Oh, so that was it?” Of course, the pavilion itself was gorgeous. There just wasn’t any time or space to stop and reflect on that fact.

Fortunately, we were able to grab a shady spot to enjoy some kakigori before escaping the crowded grounds.


Later in the afternoon, we headed back to Osaka to catch our flight the next day. It was a thoroughly enjoyable first trip to Japan.

Kyoto: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

A place of scenic beauty.

I mentioned before that we rearranged our travel schedule to include a little more time in Kyoto. The main reason was to ensure we could spend an afternoon in Arashiyama. There’s no denying the allure of a bamboo forest. Although smaller than you might expect, the bamboo forest did not disappoint.

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You’ll notice that nearly all of these photos are slightly out of focus. It’s a mix of being quite rusty with my camera and the magical way bamboo filters light. 

It’s no surprise that the entire district of Arashiyama is considered a “Place of Scenic Beauty.” In addition to the bamboo forest, there’s the gorgeous mountains, quiet ponds, and the Hozu River. Just another place in Japan where you can forget your proximity to a large city.

DSC_0024 DSC_0043 DSC_0085 DSC_0087 DSC_0100 DSC_0103 Japan82As evening arrived, we sat on rocks along the river and waited for the traditional Ukai fishing demonstrations to begin. Skilled fishermen train cormorants to catch fish by swallowing them whole but storing them in their throats. The fishermen later retrieve the fish (and hopefully reward the cormorants). This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder what someone was doing 1,300 years ago to figure this whole process out. Mike could have watched the fisherman for hours. Fortunately, the demonstration is relatively short since it’s for the benefit of the dinner boat tours.

If you can see the lines beneath the fire, those are leashes attached to the birds swimming in the water. It was nearly impossible to get a decent photo. 

After a quick picnic dinner, we began the adventurous bus ride back to our hotel that involved being kicked off the bus at the end of the line, and not allowed on the next one leaving. I don’t actually remember how we made it back, only that we did, and that it took awhile.

Just a bit left of Kyoto to share.


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