Friday, August 3, 2007

Aug 3 Kyoto

Today I met someone in the lounge as I was checking the weather. He had just arrived the day before, and was happy to have a bit of a tour. We spent the day together and saw so many excellent sites. We started off hopping the bus to Kinkakuji, the golden temple, and saw it and its reflection in the pond. It felt like we were walking on a conveyor belt always moving so we werent standing in anyones sight line for photos and things. It is beautiful, but not my favorite temple experience. Next we caught the bus to Ginkakuji, a much simpler temple with a more elaborate garden, and fewer tourists walking the paths. There were amazing gardens with sculpted gravel, something I had never seen before is a truncated cone of gravel-can you tell I`m a math teacher? There were a variety of mosses growing there, so much so that they had a moss identification table with them separated into different categories, the top being the most wonderful moss described as the "VIP of moss" I giggled about that for a while. Anyway, then after Ginkakuji we had green tea ice cream which melts incredibly fast in the 30 degree heat. We then set off down the Philosophers path from Ginkakuji. It is a path by a canal lined with cherry trees which must be gorgeous in the spring. Covered in cicadas though they are pretty noisy. Along this path there were several more temples and shrines, some we couldn`t visit though because of the day of the week or because they are simply not open to the public. Today it was rainy, so we bought umbrellas and walked anyway-you get to see so much more and have more flexibility with your plan. We had lunch at a small hole in the wall craft store/restaurant it was delicious curry rice. After that we walked to the Heian Shrine and toured the gardens there, it was beautiful, but could be even more so in May or June when the iris are blooming. There were stepping stones to cross the pond, and herons eating cicadas and all sorts of nature type things all about 5 meters from the street. There`s a high wall around all of the temple/shrine gardens, but you could still hear the faint beeping of the green lights. I was very impressed by the size of the orange gate at the entrance to the shrine, it dominated the entire horizon. My camera had run out of steam by then, but I`m going to steal my friend`s photos later.
The internet was down in the hostel when I tried to post this before, so we have moved on, and after getting money from a bank machine-in a 7/11 it works and the machine has English-we found an internet cafe (HEALIN FEELIN GOOD TIME CAFE), good eh? So I`ve got more pics to add to the picasa site which I will do maybe tomorrow morning. I`m off to Nagoya for 10:00, I`ll take the Shinkansen from Kyoto station, so I should leave the hostel around 8:30 to be sure that I can get the right bus and then get on a shinkansen going to Nagoya. I called tonight to make sure that I can get picked up at the station. I`ll be staying 15 minutes from the station, so that should be pretty convenient. I`m excited to continue my trip and see some new places. I`m all walked out these days!

As far as the typhoon goes, it went north, but we had wind today-finally a nice breeze-and there was also rain on and off, but nothing really bad. It was just annoying to open and close an umbrella all the time, and then to carry it around. It might get left at the hostel, who knows. I can get another one later.

So, I`m going to use the rest of my internet time to check my email. More to come tomorrow or the day after from Nagoya.

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