Original plans were to hit Gion (as )I keep going on about it), however with my left leg playing up we decided to go local (Dave was happy to put up with my moans, despite the fact he fancies more yakatori and I don’t). In the end we went for a tempura meal. Dave likes this sort of thing, I’m so-so, but the reality was an absolutely superb meal.
The plans for today were simple. Head north east, go to the temple complex at Nanzen-In, walk the philosophers way up to Ginkaku-ji, then return to finish off the afternoon on some thing relaxing before going out for food.
We invested in subway/bus cards – a good investment even if just to make life easy, then set off towards Nanzen-Ji. The ride felt like it took hours. Fortunately we only had to walk about 5 minutes before hitting the start of tourist trap restaurants.
Now you must understand my views on modern day buddism are clouded by my trip to the giant buddah at Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Effectively it was one big enterprise based on tourism. yesterday, while we went around Nara, my views started to change, however here we were back in temple land where the emphasis seemed to be on money being extracted from you. It appeared that anything you could go in to was being charged for. David paid ￥500 to go up the sanmon for no real view, while there were photographers and tourist bits around. The Hojo (treasure house) was actually quite good and well worth seeing (and the entry fee) (BTW mpost temples do charge admission to either the main building or the complex, but not everything), the actual Nanzen-In temple was nice, serene, but very much over-rated. The guides mentioned a little known spot of great interest (little know to anyone without a Lonely Planet guide that is), however when we went to find it, not only was it signposted, but it the path was closed with the sound of construction work up ahead.
Over all I found Nanzen-In to be dissapointing and while the Hojo was nice, it was not worth the effort getting over there.
Post an over-priced lunch we set off for the Philosophers Way, and ancient path along the canal side up to Ginkaku-Ji – the Silver Pavillion temple. Any philosophising had to make way for dodging fellow tourists, while pasisng by shops and food places. Truth be told it was actually a pleasant walk, though my left knee was playing up and starting to worry me.
What you get out of Ginkaku-Ji depends on what you were expecting. It is one of the ‘must see’ places in Kyoto. Going by history it was meant to be based on the Golden Pavilion, but the onwner died/ran out of money before it was completed. The reality is a small pond side pavillion, that is old, of dark wood, and that was about it. I actually quite liked it, I think David was more than a little dissapointed. The gardens at the temple were nice, but nothing special. I found the place was one for a relaxing atmosphere, rather than either a tourist buzz, or the feeling of seeing a mjor piece of Japanese heritage (such as at Todai-Ji).
Before writing up our day, here are some quick observations.
1. For such a modern country, it’s so hard to find a hotspot I can use. Yup – the hotel has a PC downstairs, but I can’t get my laptop on the ‘Net, so it’ll be a few days before any photo updates and even entries here will be sparce.
2. Toilets. Even knowing about it, one often forgets that Japanese views on modesty differ from ours. While the younger generations are gradually picking up more American views on life, many still follow the older ways, which includes inner walls in the mind and a relaxed view towards the body and bodilly functions. Net result is many gents toilets, the urinals are often near unblocked, allowing any man taking a piss to be seen from outside. As a westerner it is important to zip up before stepping back.
3. Japan is suffering from hotter temperatures than the seasonal norm. Net result is I might be running out of things to wear. I hate clothes shopping at the best of times, but with having to navigate a foreign language I struggle with (I could probably cope – you can get a long way with kore and sore), and being uncertain on how to pay (Japan is still very much a cash society and only the bigger hotels/restaurants and department stores take visa), it’s something I could do with out.
Well we’ve now moved down the road from the old to the new. This one is meant to be traditional, more like traditional 1970’s with a hint of Japanese. Doesn’t seem too bad over all though.
Moving over Dave attempted to find an excuse to buy umbrella number 3. While laughing I found I was suddenly on number 2 as I’d taken the wrong one. Good job we were only 2 minutes down the road.
Last night I found myself almost in stitches. It’s very hard to get a single room in a ryoken, and single travellers are often put togther, so myself and David have been sharing a room. We’ve found that I snore at the moment – causing David problems with going to sleep. While at Nara I bought some ‘breath easy’ type node clips to stop it happening (these apparently didn’t work). Any how we’ve hit the sack and Dave is jokingly threatening me, when from the floor above – seriously heavy snoring. It was all I could do to stop laughing out aloud.
Oh final bit of salt rubbbing in to Dave’s wounds. When coming back from Nara the other day, just before the station, there was a rather cute girl (mid 20s) handing out flyers. She saw us coming along, moved the flyers to her far side, and gave me a really friendly smile. I like Nara. David is still nervous of Korean business men.
The dull weather and rain in Tokyo may have been a pain, but in the Kansai region we’ve seen nothing but sun. Net result is I’ve tanned slightly 🙂 I’m not allowed to mention lobsters as Dave get’s a little upset ^^
Well our stay at Kyoto ryoken #1 is about to come to an end. The reason we’re staying at 2 is because neither could put us up for all 5 nights. Originally we wanted to stay at the Heianbo, but they could only fit us in for the final two nights. The ryoken agency we were booking through came up with the Shimizu, but only for the first three, and their next alternative was a lot more due to evening meals, so we decided to take the two and move part way through the stop in this city. The reality is they are only about 5 minutes walk apart.
What do I think of this ryoken ? Well it might be described as a modern one and more geared towards tourists, but I like it and wish we could have been here all 5. Sleeping on a real futon (no wooden slats) is comfortable. There are some down sides to staying in a ryoken. For a starter they normally have a locked door policy – arounhd midnight, so if you’re going to a town and are going to be partying it up you need to stay in a hotel. Also the walls are thin so at night you have to be careful not to make too much noise. If you are a single traveller then there’s also the posibility you’ll be forced to share a room with some one else.