Sunday, October 18, 2009

A near-perfect day in Kyoto

For our first full day in Japan, we couldn't have asked for better weather. Blue skies for nearly the whole day, and anything gray just blew over us.

We started with a walk up the Philosophers Path to Ginkaguji Temple - about a 15 minute walk from us. I hadn't been to this temple before, so it was a great choice for us to start at. Its called the Silver Pavilion, though it never actually became covered in silver as its golden counterpart did. The silver can really refer however to the sand gardens on the temple grounds. Its raked and smoothed out into huge mounds, and the gardens surrounding the sand are exquisite. There is moss everywhere on the ground, small creeks and brooks flowing through the trees, and every inch of the grounds looks both natural and manicured. Beautiful and peaceful stuff.

We then took a bus towards Kinkaguji - the Golden Pavilion, which actually is completely gilded in gold leaf. Its as stunning as it was last year. We finished our afternoon with a familiar walk through the rock garden at Ryoan-ji temple, and then through the Torin-in temple complex. We didn't quite make it to Koroyuji temple on time to see the collection of Buddha statues which is worth a visit, but we had a pretty full day without it.

Mom and dad are doing well with all of the walking were doing. Food has been good - lunch at the Wonder Cafe, dinner dowtown along Ponto-cho - a narrow alley-way near the Kamo River. Sounds like a busy day, but we took our time. Early morning tomorrow - to see the sunrise at Kiyamizudera Temple.

Kyoto is a great city for walking with people who want to see it all, but want to take their time on the way. Being here last year, I wondered every place we went what my parents might feel like seeing the things I was seeing and having the experiences I was having. Now I know. They love it. The three of us are having fun, giggling like idiots at times, and zenning-out when our surroundings allow us to. I love maps - LOVE maps. There is no better city than Kyoto to walk around with a map and feel like you are doing it justice. The buses here are great, and the cafes are perfect for stopping for a tea or Suntory Boss coffee - hot and in a can - sometimes to chat about what we are seeing, and sometimes just to consult a map and wonder where we are going to wander to next. I will say it again - I could live here and live well... if a little less wealthy.

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