June 3, 2019

Kyoto 2019 day 4: go west

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It's our last day exploring Kyoto together, and our itinerary would take us to the western side of the city - hitting some of the key temples there.  When we realized we had just missed the Raku 101 bus from Kyoto Station and the next one wouldn't come for a while, we switched to No. 205 and got off at Kinkakuji-michi (金閣寺道).

I was surprised to see that we were so close to the Hidari-daimonji (左大文字), which is on Daihoku-san (大北山).  Kinda interesting to see it in daylight when the fires aren't lit.

Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺) is most famous for its pavilion that has been covered in gold leaf, hence it is popularly known as Kinkaku-ji (金閣寺).  Not surprisingly there was a horde of tourists this morning - as there would be on any morning - so it took a while for some people to get to the right spot for photos.  I was so thankful that the sun was out again today, and the gilding on top reflected the sunlight well.

I wasn't at all surprised by a sign by the temple entrance which warns that it is forbidden to fly drones here.  Having rebuilt the pavilion after it was burned down in 1950 by a monk with mental issues, the last thing that the temple wants to see is some idiot crashing a drone into the national treasure.

June 2, 2019

Kyoto 2019 day 3: wooden mountain

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Tonight was my biggest hope of getting some high-end kyo-ryori (京料理).  I knew I had no chance of getting into the most sought-after places since I didn't start planning my meals until about 2 weeks before the trip, but I still wanted to pick a nice place for kaiseki (懐石料理).  Thankfully I found that Kiyama (木山) - which is highly rated on Tabelog and on the OAD Top 100+ Japanese Restaurants despite having only one macaron - was still available via one of the paid concierge services, so I booked us in.  Maybe it's because the place has only been only for about 2 years.

We were led to a private room just off the entrance, so the 5 of us would be on our own.

Grilled eel with glutinous rice (鰻御飯) - kinda surprised that the chef started us off with rice, and even more surprising that it's glutinous rice.  Nice fragrance from the sansho leaves (木の芽) on top, and interesting to have chopped bits of pine nuts mixed in with the rice.

We were offered a welcome sake, which was dry and came from Fukuoka.

Kyoto 2019 day 3: Higashiyama

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I didn't get much sleep last night, as I woke up early and decided to update the firmware of my DJI Mavic Pro.  After going through the necessary steps and thinking I was ready to go, I began reattaching the propellers - as I normally have them removed before boarding a flight.  That was when I realized that I had brought the wrong combination of propellers... so I carried my drone to Kyoto for nothing...

We decided to get an earlier start this morning, and headed to Kyoto Station in order to board Raku Bus (洛バス) No. 100 - one of three routes designed for tourists.  We would be exploring the eastern side of the city today.

The first stop of the day is Higashiyama Jisho-ji (東山慈照寺), which is otherwise commonly known as Ginkaju-ji (銀閣寺).  The design of the main structure was meant to emulate the famed golden pavilion of Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺), and the pavilion was meant to be covered in silver foil, but the latter was never executed.

This was my second visit and took place more than 20 years after my first, and I think I finally gained more appreciation for this temple.  I can see why my friend Ninja likes it so much.  We enjoyed a stroll along the path up the small hill next to the temple, admiring the luscious, moss-covered surroundings which looked so green and serene. 

June 1, 2019

Kyoto 2019 day 2: Karhu's hangout

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It was supposed to be perfect.  I had planned our day's itinerary so that we would end up around Gion (祗園) during early evening to try to catch any geisha (芸者) shuffling down Hanamikoji-dori (花見小路通り) on their way to dinner appointments.  Then we would have dinner nearby at a restaurant serving traditional kyo-ryori (京料理).

But due to our late start this morning and the need for my friends to check-in to the hotel - and our insistence to use public transport - we missed the golden hour to stroll down what would have been undoubtedly a tourist-filled lane.  So we ended up just strolling around the restaurant before getting seated in an upstairs dining room at the Sueyoshicho (末吉町) branch of Yagenbori (やげんぼり).

As we were removing our shoes at the genkan (玄関), I noticed a copy of Karhu@77 - the book featuring the works of Clifton Karhu published by my friends the Tolmans - was prominently displayed.  As we entered our private dining room, I saw that a Karhu print of the exterior of the restaurant hung on a wall.  And the cardboard coasters we got for our cold drinks - a different one for each of us - also featured drawings which are reminiscent of Karhu's annual calendars.

Kyoto 2019 day 2: an easy start

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MorgChop and family arrived in Kyoto this morning, and we would have the next three days together.  It's been a few years since I last saw him, but it's been more than 15 years since I last saw his wife and son.  In fact, the last time I saw the little kid was before he turned 2... and he's headed to Shrimp Buddha this fall.  How time flies...

Our first stop today was Nijo-jo (二条城), the castle that was the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa shogunate. It's been more than a decade since my last visit, and they have since renovated the famous Karamon (唐門) which leads into the Ninomaru Palace (二の丸御殿) and gardens.  No wonder the gilded parts were looking so shiny under the sun...

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