26.03.2008 - 26.03.2008
this was a pretty big day. Lots of walking and seeing temples/shrines. First I got the bus, because a day bus ticket costs 500yen, so by just using it 3 times its a saver, plus i knew how far it was to walk to the start of my temples hopping, and that i would be going away from my hostel and not in a loop at all.
So my first stop was SAnjusangendo temple which I had heard was good. The draw of this particular temple is the 1001 Kannon. ONe big one and 500 smaller ones on each side. It was quite overwhelming, I didnt count them but I should estimate that 1001 would be acurate. Unfortunately, as with many of the temples/shrines I was unable to take any photos, which is odd because at the next temple i went to there was a poster for the Sanjusangendo temple which had a photo of the kannon on. So anyway, i just took a photo of the poster, which looks like a real photo now! IN the gift shop for this temple, rahter than getting a mobile charm, which i have decided to collect on my travels, I paid to receive a small trinket which sybolises the following:
Fukurokujyu- The God of 3 blessings: Fuku, Roku and Jyu. Fuku for prosperity. Roku for wealth. Jyu for long life.
from here i went across to yogen in, but i was not allowed in because i didnt speak japanese, which is what i gathered from the little old lady, i think that was her opinion, since there was an english sign!
from here i went to another quiet temple just because it was en route but it was quite pesent anyways, called chishakuin.
coming from this direction to the next temple meant that i missed the crowds and enjoyed a pleasent walk through a huge buddhist graveyard. upon reaching kiyomizudera temple, i met the crowds coming from the Gion direction. this temple is up a hill a way, so it offers some very nice views over kyoto. one experience at this temple is to walk through the womb of zuigu bosatsu. this route beneath the temple is darker than pitch black. to find your way through you must feel your way with the buddhist beads to the stone where you then make a wish. another reason i liked this temple was for its 2 pagoda, i like pagodas almost as much as i like torii! another feature of this temple is the love stones, if you can make it between them you love wishwill be granted soon. since seb wasnt there i had little chance of making it to the other stone, the idea is to have someone guide you. so i didnt attepmt to make it through the crowds, since failing would result in it being a long time before my love is realised.
the walk down from the temple was via the main route lined with lots of touristy shops which were nice to look in and i also got to try some japanese sweets flavoured with cherry blossom. on the way i passed yasaka pagoda, which is all that could be done at this pagoda.
My walk continued up some stairs and i came across something that I was not expecting. From the view at Kyoto Tower I had seena large statue in the distance, and on reaching the top of these stairs it was the same statue that appeared before me. It was a giant Kannon, which i discovered was to remember the unknown soldier of WWII. I was offered a stick of incense to light and leave in memory. The statue itself was very impressive.
Just over from the Kannon was Kodaiji temple. Here I encountered my first rock garden, or in western terms zen garden. It was very interesting to see, and the more japanese gardens i see the more i would like a similar style garden myself if possible.
Down from Kodaiji temple i went to Maruyama park, where again there were some very nice gardens and some street performers to entertain. A man with a dog stopped to talk to me, he wanted to tell me some good places to visit in Kyoto.
From the park I walked down to Yasaka jinja shrine, which is apparently the guardian shrine of Gion.
From here I went to CHioin temple. THis temple has the largest gate in Japan and the largest bell which takes 17 monks to ring it! I then visited the nearby Shoren in temple, which was quiet and pleasent.
That was all the temples etc that I had planned for the day but it was still early so i squeezed in one more. For the second time in the day i came across something which I had spotted from the Kyoto tower but wasnt sure what it was. But it was amazing!!! A giant red torii, the entrance to heian jingu shine. this being a relatively new one, only 110 or so years old. so the shrine itself wasnt very impressive, but the torii over the road looked really cool.
So after this shrine it was time for me to take the bus to gion, with hope of spotting some geisha on their way to their appointments. I knew the street that i had to go to and so walked up and down a few times. Crowds started to assemble and it was a mix between looking for lions on safari and waiting for the Queen. Not really sure where the geisha might appear from but cameras at the ready like they are celebrities when they do appear. Sure enough it wasnt long before a geisha came flying through, as if appearing from nowhere and disappearing as quickly. Going into tea houses to make appointments. What somewhat spoilt the atmosphere was the hoards of taxis passing down the street, which otherwise appeared to remain as it would have looked for centuries. And also when a couple of geisha climbed into a taxi with a man and his wife it somewhat spoilt the image. But aside from this, i was very happy with my geisha encounter, having waited 6 months in japan before experiencing it.