Friday, 8 October 2010

Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Kobe-Okayama-Hiroshima trip – 8 Oct 10

I had instant cup noodle for breakfast today, a change from having bread for the previous days. We start our day at almost 7am or 7.30am everyday. It's tiring but there are just so many attractions in this trip. Today, the attractions which we will be visiting attractions which are concentrated on the East of Kyoto (Higashiyama).
Cup noodle for breakfast

As we bought the one day bus card which offer unlimited bus ride in a day, we took a bus from our hostel to Kyoto Station. Even though it's 2 or 3 bus stops away, it help us to conserve some energy to be use for the rest of the day. =p
Kyoto station

We took bus from Kyoto station to Ginkakuji which is about 30min ride. Kyoto bus has a screen which display the next bus stop name, hence it helps us from alighting at the correct bus stop.
Student uniforms in Japan
Pathway leading to Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) 銀閣寺 is a Zen temple which was previously a retirement villa. Despite its name, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building's construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion. Alternatively, it is explained that moon light reflecting on the building's dark exterior (which used to be covered in black lacquer in the past) gave it a silvery appearance. Opening hours: 8.30am - 5pm and Admission: ¥500.
Admission ticket which resembles talisman
Maze-like path

The sand garden of Ginkaku-ji has become particularly well known; and the carefully formed pile of sand which is said to symbolize Mount Fuji is an essential element in the garden.
Silver pavilion
Sand garden
Mosses garden
Wishing pond
These plants have star-like leaves
View from top of a hill in Ginkakuji
Cream puff
So kawaii
Licking the huge ice cream

From Ginkakuji, we walked to Eikando temple and Nanzenji temple along the Path of Philosophy 哲学の道.  The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees which is a popular spot during hanami (cherry blossom viewing). The path gets its name due to Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan's most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.
Start of Path of Philosophy from the Ginkakuji end
A heart warming moment
Wild mushrooms
Japanese telephone booth
Drying futon
Path of Philosophy
After walking for about 40min, we reached Eikando Temple 永観堂 which is very famous for its autumn colors and the evening illuminations that take place in fall. Since the leaves are still green, we did not went in. Opening hrs: 9am – 5pm and Admission: ¥600 (autumn daytime: ¥1000, autumn night time: ¥600) 
Eikando Temple 永観堂
I was so excited to see some yellow maple leaves
What does this diamond shape represent on the road?

As we are nearby, we went to Hinode Udon for lunch. It's only 10.30am when we reached and is not open for business yet. Address: 36 Kitanobo-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku (About 10-15m north of Eikando Temple) and Opening hrs: 11am – 6pm, closed on Sun.
Hinode Udon
Variety of condiments

Plain udon starts from ¥400 ~ S$6 and the recommend dish is Nabeyaki udon (pot-baked udon in beef broth) ¥800 ~ S$13. I ordered Nabeyaki udon and it's not bad.
Nabeyaki udon

After our lunch, we walked to Nanzeji temple 南禅寺.  The central temple ground is open to public free of charge but admission applies to other buildings. We only roam around the temple ground.
Sanmon gate
Beautiful flowers

There is an aqueduct that passes through the temple grounds. Built during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the aqueduct is part of a canal system that was constructed to carry water and goods between Kyoto and Lake Biwa in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture.
Nanzenji temple ground
Nanzeji temple has a huge compound
From Nanzeji, we took bus no. 5 to Heian shrine. Initially, we have some difficulty finding the bus stop as it's almost 500m away.
Kyoto art museum

Heian shrine 平安神宮 is famous for the largest torii gate in Japan. Heian Shrine was built relatively recently in 1895 on the occasion of the 1,100th anniversary of the Heian Capital foundation. It is dedicated to the first and last emperors that reigned from Kyoto, Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei.
The shrine buildings are a partial replica of the Imperial Palace of the Heian Period, but only about two thirds of the original buildings in scale. Several events are held on the shrine's spacious inner court occasionally.
Heian Jingū's torii
Entrance of Heian shrine
Sake barrels

Normally, there is a temizusha 手水舎 in the temples or shrine where you purify your hands before you worship.
Washing my hand at temizusha
Does these papers contains the wishes which prayer make?

From Heian shrine, we took bus no. 5 to Jingu-michi bus stop where Shorenin Temple and Chionin Temple are located. Shorenin Temple 青蓮院門跡 is one of the city's monzeki temples, which are temples whose head priests were traditionally members of the imperial family. Opening hrs: 9am – 5pm and Admission: ¥500. We didnt went into the temple building partly because of the admission charge.
Shoren-in Temple

Next, we walked to Chionin Temple which is beside Shoren-in Temple. Chionin temple  知恩院 is the head temple of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, which has millions of followers and is one the the most popular Buddhist sects in Japan. Opening hrs: 9am - 3.30pm. 
Sanmon gate
Steps at the side leading to Chionin temple
Miedo Hall
Steep steps behind Sanmon gate
Path leading to Maruyama Park & Kiyomizudera

We passed by Maruyama Park 円山公園 which is famous for cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto.
Maruyama Park

From Maruyama Park, we walked along Nene no Michi ねねの道. The street scape of Nene no Michi is unique in that it adheres to Kyoto building codes: there are no garish signs and telephone wires have been buried. In Kyoto, that makes it both beautiful and very unusual.
Nene no Michi
Kid dressing as Geisha

Walking south on Nene no Michi, we arrived at Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka. These are narrow sloped streets that have tasteful shops filled with Japanese goods.
Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka
I just cant stop saying Kawaii!
 Taking photographs with Geisha
Anyone know what is tthe actual name of this Japanese sweet?
This piece cost me ¥150 ~ S$2.30 
The packaging is just so tempting

Yatsuhashi 八ツ橋 is a famous local product from Kyoto. Baked yatsuhashi was originally made using cinnamon, and tastes like a crunchy biscuit. Raw yatsuhashi (hijiri) was also made with cinnamon, but the cinnamon is mixed with bean paste and then folded into the hijiri to make a triangle-shape. Raw yatsuhashi are only lasts for one week after purchase while baked yatsuhashi will last for about three months. 
The chiffon cake is so tempting
The spiky thing is chestnut fruit

Finally, we reached Kiyomizudera after walking pass many souvenirs shop. Kiyomizudera 清水寺 ("Pure Water Temple") is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. It was founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, and derives its name from the fall's pure waters.
Niomon and Saimon gates

We went to Zuigudo Hall which is dedicated to Buddha's mother. We paid an entrance fee of ¥100 ~ S$1.50 where we wander the pitch black basement. We couldnt see anything inside and have to navigate by holding the beads that symbolizes a mother's womb.
Zuigudo Hall

A visit to the three-storey Koyasu Pagoda is said to bring about an easy and safe childbirth.
Koyasu Pagoda

A pair of metal staff (priest’s cane) is displayed at the west side entrance of Hondo building. Heavier one named Tetsushakujo weighs 90 kg and the smaller Shoshakujo weighs 14 kg. Visitors were encouraged to try and lift the staffs.
90kg Tetsushakujo
Higashiyama (Eastern Mountain)
 Visitors queueing at Otowa waterfall
Sale of Talisman
Jishu Shrine

Kiyomizudera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The stage affords visitors a nice view of the numerous cherry and maple trees below that erupt in a sea of color in spring and fall, as well as of the city of Kyoto in the distance.
Kiyomizudera Hondo main hall
Path leading to Otowa waterfall
Restaurant located along the path

The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of Kiyomizudera's main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. The cups are clean via infrared before reuse. Each stream's water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy. If I remember correctly, I drank from the right stream, so does this stream means a fortunate love life? 
Sipping water from Otowa Waterfall
Seeking alm
Colourful candies
I love Japan for these fake food display, it looks so real! 
Nice deco

We left Kiyomizudera and took bus back to Kyoto station. It is hard to find money changer here and we found one at a travel agency opposite JR Green Window Reservations Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi).
Travel agency
Bustling Kyoto station

When doing travel research for this trip, I read that it's not worth going to Kyoto tower as the view is not really spectacular and it cost ¥770 ~ S$12. A blogger recommended Hotel Granvia Kyoto 14 floor where the restaurants are located for the view.  But the view of Kyoto was disappointing hence it's not worth paying to go up to Kyoto tower.
Granvia hotel south elevator
View from Granvia Hotel 14th floor
Kyoto tower

We had our dinner at Kyoto station. There is a recommended Tonkatsu restaurant - Katsukura at The Cube 11F,  Kyoto station (take evelator @ Isetan Dept store). However we went into the wrong restaurant as I thought this was Katsukura since it is selling Tonkatsu. 
Food display of Tonkatsu Wako
Restaurant interior

I ordered Rosukatsu Gohan (Pork Loin cutlet) ¥1,208 ~ S$19. Free refill of rice, miso soup and shredded cabbage are available upon request.
Rosukatsu Gohan

After our dinner, we went to Lawson (a convenience store) to buy bread for tomorrow's breakfast. Then we took a bus back to the hostel.
Photocopier machine service at convenience store

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