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.

After a quick tour of the gardens, I got the boys to do something completely touristy - sip matcha under the trees.  We had a little wagashi (和菓子) to go along, which of course had a little bit of gold leaf on top...

On our way to the next stop, we passed by the restaurant that I was planning to visit for lunch.  Once again we figured that it would make more sense to just do an earlier lunch, so we sat down at the Kinkaku-ji branch of Gontaro (そば處  権太郎  金閣寺店).

Cooked herring bar (にしん棒焚き) - I just can't resist whenever I see this.  I loooooove these tender and sweet chunks of herring.

Lunch set with tea soba and grated yam (茶切りとろろ御膳) - this was a seasonal item so I couldn't resist ordering it.  First there's a bloc of sesame tofu (胡麻豆腐).

The bowl of green tea-flavored soba came covered with grated yam and a raw egg yolk.  Mixing it all up made for a nice, big bowl that was pretty filling...

... but I still had a bowl of mixed rice - which I couldn't finish.

After lunch we continued on foot to Ryoan-ji (龍安寺), which is yet another world-famous temple known for its iconic zen rock garden.  I sat on the wooden patio and contemplated the garden, trying to filter out the yapping tourists and longing for some tranquility.

Of course, when I came here for the first time more than 20 years ago, my mobile phone actually rang while I sat here amidst a sparse collection of tourists... and I ended up taking a work call.

We took the bus to Ninna-ji (仁和寺) and found more renovations.  The temple is famous for its orchard of cherry trees, and I'll bet it looks absolutely beautiful during sakura season.

It was time to get ourselves to Arashiyama (嵐山), and cabbing it seemed to be the best way.  As soon as we got off our taxis, Hello Kitty and I made a beeline for the Rilakkuma Cafe (嵐山りらっくま茶房)...

Eventually we did cross the road to get to Tenryu-ji (天龍寺).  We ended up not touring through the structures, choosing to only stroll through the beautiful gardens.  A sign by the entrance tells visitors a number of things which are forbidden, and lo and behold... drones are banned here, too.

But the real reason for entering the gardens of Tenryu-ji was to get to the famed bamboo forest, another of Kyoto's most selfied and Instagrammed spots.

We walked through Kameyama Park (亀山公園) and down to the bank of the Katsuragawa (桂川), where we hung out and rested a little while listening to the sounds of the river, and watched tourists go by on river boats.  I was exhausted from carrying my heavy camera bag over the last 3 days.

I booked us an early dinner in the middle of the river, so we slowly made our way across Togetsu-kyo (渡月橋) - while learning that the lights on the bridge are now powered by the small-scale hydroelectric dams in the river.  There weren't a lot of people on Nakanoshima (中之島) at this hour...

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