Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Something Orangey, Something Silvery

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years. You’ve heard about that before? Probably because you also watched Rurouni Kenshin during your younger days :)  Kenshin decided to go to Kyoto to hunt and fight Shishio Makoto. He gives Kaoru an emotional hug as he bids her farewell.

I chose a dorm which is 10-15 minutes away from Kiyomizudera temple. I started walking early, walking at 8:00 in the morning to beat the crowd, with plenty of time to wander around the streets of Kyoto. What I didn’t know was that it was a 10-15 minutes UPHILL walk going to the Kiyomizudera temple.

10 minutes UPHILL my friend, UPHILL. Prepare to huff and puff.

The uphill path was lined by lots of quaint little shops – some were open and some were still closed. My breakfast was gone by the time I reached the entrance.
Shops and students

The temple opens as early as 6:00AM and the crowds were already there at the entrance. These crowds were not foreign tourists, but Japanese students in their uniforms. I am reminded by all those times I spend thinking about what school uniform to copy in cosplay. 

Japanese uniform!

A close up version for myself. Despite my outfit planning, my outfit of the day seems to clash with all the red and autumn shades of the temples.

I had to line up for the ticket. I purchased the entrance ticket which costs JPY 300. That’s one nice thing about Japan, the entrance fees to these tourist spots are not as expensive compared to other temples in Bangkok or other tourist spots in Europe. The accommodation and transportation makes Japan a relatively expensive destination but there are really good cheap food options (no bad food in those cheap food options) and the tickets are cheap.

The crowd. A bunch of early risers too.

Kiyomizudera temple is popular during spring and autumn for its turning colors. The colors weren’t quite autumn yet when I was there – I was quite disappointed as I was rooting for another autumn background adventure. 

Autumn is on its way here

The scenic background is taken over my lots of students and tourists so I had to settle for photobummers in some of my photos. I wasn’t gonna stress myself over having super perfect shots. Not now.

The purple camera case makes it to Kiyomizudera temple.

With all the crowds around, I had to alternately pace myself faster and slower than the crowds. When I really wanted a shot and the tripod just won’t do, I just bring on some extra charm to the kids. I thought they were quite friendly and curious as they gather around their friend who takes my shot.

The Jishu Love shrine is in a part of the complex. There are two stones placed a couple of meters apart and you'll have to walk from one stone to another - with your eyes closed. If you succeed, you'll find true love. I didn't try it. Too many teenage kids trying it out. Ayoko mang-gulo. 

Jishu Shrine love stones
They sell love charms and some “wishing boards” if you want to wish – primarily for love.  Of course I had to get that “find love” charm for me!=D

Choose your love charm at Jishu shrine.

The waterfalls with sacred water that brings luck. I didn’t want to queue so I just took a photo.

I spent another two hours wandering around taking photos, and taking photos of myself using a tripod discreetly.

I happily wandered around the side streets which still contains the charm of the old Japan. This is where Kyoto won me over. This is why I love Japan, and why I plan to visit Kyoto again someday. The path is full of souvenir shops but did not give a touristy vibe unlike some European cities.

Picturesque and quaint
Lots of nice shops around

There was this park (I forgot the name) but it was less crowded than from the streets that I came from so I spent some time maximizing the use of my tripod. Just got silly with all the foliage around me.

Wushu in Kyoto! I try. Harhar!

I found my way out in the maze of temples and looked at my map. I was quite done in that area (I did Gion and the five-star pagoda in other days) and I’m on my way going to Ginkakuji or the Silver Pavilion. I asked a nice lady for the bus stop to double check, and she pointed me in a direction. After a couple of steps, she chased me and said that she made a mistake, and she would accompany me to the proper bus stop. Now that is Japanese hospitality. I was speechless. I didn’t want to inconvenience her but I felt that turning down her offer to accompany me might offend her.

I used the Kyoto Bus Pass which I bought from my hostel for JPY 500. Got off a bus stop indicated in the map. Loads of people got off the stop so I figured it was the right one. And it was!

There's a sign.

Entrance fee costs JPY 500. Unfortunately, the sign is such a killjoy for my tripod pictures. Boo. 

 The entrance was quite crowded so I let the crowd just pass before walking in the paved path.The Silver Pavilion that house over there. It looks a bit better in reality than this sucky photo. But you can’t really get close and you can’t go inside. So... you are visiting the grounds around the Silver Pavilion, which is pretty nice, if you like Japanese gardens. 

Not a lot of charm in a photo:

There is an uphill path which yields this view.

The trail is wide for one but seems narrow for the huge crowd. Plus, you can only go in one direction.

I would say, it took me around an hour to roam around and enjoy the place.

I turned left (I think it was left) upon exiting and walked along the Philosopher’s path. It was around 2:00PM and I haven’t had a proper lunch yet. I was stuffing myself with various Japanese pastries that was sold in the shops around. Sugar kept me going. The Philosopher’s path is a paved path around a straight canal lined with cherry blossom trees. 

It was autumn so there are no cherry blossoms for me. I guess walking around this area isn’t so popular (or not so poplar after lunch?) because there were no crowds and I found myself walking with just a couple of locals. The path was lined with lots of stores, but they didn’t seem open.

I was supposed to find Heian Shrine but... well, I pleasantly got lost and got tired, hot and hungry. I had to navigate along the empty streets until I found a map, and a bus stop. But I had no plans of resting yet. It was quite early so went to JR Kyoto Station and boarded a train which will take me to Fushimi Inari!

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