Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kyoto: Walking tour day 1

So I got a little distracted and didn't finish all my Japan posts - I want to rectify that so I set myself a goal of two blog posts a week for the month of March. Lets hope I can do it (がんばりますよ!)

For my birthday I was given some money to sign up for a walking tour of Kyoto. In a city of literally thousands of shrines and equally as much history I thought this would be the best way of seeing and learning about the highlights. I also though it would be nice to sightsee with some people instead of heading out on my own. It was such a delightful experience. The tour consisted of two Aussie couples, myself and our guide Greg (another Canadian).

The inori or hearth a photo by Greg Koch
Our first day started with a trip to a Japanese tea house and a lesson in the tea ceremony.  It was a wonderfully relaxing and refreshing experience. Our hosts, Jack and Hiromisan, were so lovely.

photo by Greg Koch
After what was unanimously agreed as a great start to the day we moved onto the Daitoku-ji temple, one of Japan’s finest Zen monasteries, a complex of main and sub-temples covering 56 acres.
It was here that we had the shojin ryori meal I described in my last post.

After lunch we stopped briefly at Heian-jingu Shrine (the terminus of the Jidai Matsuri) and then wandered through nearby hand craft museum. It was so interetsing to see how kimono fabric, ceramics and illuminated scrolls were traditionally made.

From there we wandered down the famous Philosopher's Path, through quiet suburbs and past many temples, until we arrived at Ginkaku-ji, the Silver Pavilion. Ginkaku-jin was built by the 8th Ashikaga Shogun in the late 15th Century.

photo by Greg Koch
The Silver Pavilion is an exquisite structure, which is silver in name only, set in beautiful gardens.  A path around the parameter led us up a small hill over looking the temple and lake.

The whole complex was quite lush and I inwardly cursed a little that I was probably 2 or 3 weeks too early to really catch the fall colours.

Afterwards we moved along to central Kyoto for an exploration of Nishiki, Kyoto’s lively central market, where a plethora of food items, many not so familiar, overwhelmed us. I had been shopping on some of the covered markets in Kyoto already but had not ventured down that street so I was pleasantly amused with all the goings on.

I ended the night eating some Kansai style okonomiyaki at a small shop on the edge of Ginza. A delightful evening of food, beer and people watching.

UPDATE! I found a picture of the Okonomiyaki!

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