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).