First Day in Kyoto
Out of all the places in Japan, Kyoto was the place I wanted to visit most. I love traditional Japanese culture, so naturally Kyoto would be the place for me, and today I finally got to go. We went to Ginkakuji, Honen-in, Anrakuji, Nanzenji, Shoren-in, and Kiyomizu-Dera.
As I said before, there isn’t much to write about. The pictures explain it all so much better.
Ginkakuji was a little crowded, which is to be expected considering its Golden Week, but it was still a cool place to visit. The garden was really beautiful. When I think of a Japanese Garden, this is exactly what I picture. The combination of stone, water, bridges, and greenery made for a really peaceful place. It was cool because I got to see one of the workers actually making the pattern in the stone garden. A little further back in the garden around the temple is a hill that you can climb that gives you a pretty cool view of the city and the temple.
Honen-in also had a really pretty garden. There were quite a few trees here and I felt like I was hidden away in a forest somewhere. It’s places like this where it’s easy to forget that the city is right next door.
Anrakuji wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit. However, there is a certain street in Kyoto that has several temples in a row. We were on our way to Nanzenji when we passed by this temple and decided to stop. It’s not as impressive as some of the other temples in the area, but if you’re passing by and have the time, it’s definitely worth a quick stop.
Nanzenji was probably most memorable for the really big gate that lead into the compound. If you want you can go to the second floor of the gate and get decent pictures, but we decided not to because it cost money and in my opinion there are other places to get good views of the city and surrounding area.
Shoren-in is probably in a tie with Kiyomizu-Dera as my favorite place today. This place was pretty big and has the traditional architecture of Japanese houses that I love so much. It had the tatami mats, the shoji (paper) sliding doors and engawa (a strip of wood that makes a walkway around the outside of the house). It was also cool simply because of the sheer size. I have been in other buildings with the style of a traditional Japanese home, but this was the biggest one I had ever been in. In the area surrounding the building, there were also ponds and gardens, and even a bamboo forest.
Kiyomizu-Deru was absolutely amazing. There were big orange gates that served as the entrance to the area, and from atop the main shrine, you could see out over the city. It was an absolutely spectacular view. If you walked a little ways down the path, you could get another good picture of the temple with the city in the background. Back on the ground there was also a fountain with three streams that you can drink water from. One is for luck in your studies (school), one is for luck in health, and the last is for luck in love. However, there was a long line for this so we decided to simply watch other people as they took their turns.
Overall, my first day in Kyoto was absolutely amazing. It was everything I had hoped for an more. There are still a few more places in Kyoto I would like to go, and I look forward to going there tomorrow!