Macaques and Temples
Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion)
We spent an amazing 36 days in Japan! We did a lot of traveling, and we went back and forth between a lot of locations, cities, and districts. To make things easier to read and write, we have grouped everything in our travels into city locations and not exactly by time. The Japan list of contents so far can be found here!
Welcome to Kyoto! We were all over the place in Kyoto, visiting it twice, a week apart, during our time in Japan. The places we visited in Kyoto are:
-Hiiragiya Ryokan, Maruyama Park, and Nanzen-ji Temple
* Fushimi Inari-taisha
* Nishiki Market
- Nishiki Market and the Philosopher's Path
* Tsubara House
- Tsubara House, Exploring Kyoto, and Gion District
* Macaques and Temples
- Arashiyama, Ginkakuji, and Kiyomizudera Temple
* Odds and ends and final thoughts on Kyoto.
Ginkakuji, also known as the Silver Pavilion, was one of the few locations that required an entrance fee in order to see. It was about 500 yen ($3-$5) per person and worth every penny. Ginkakuji was built in 1482, and originally established as a retirement home of the shogun at the time. After his death in 1490 it was converted into a Zen temple. There is a large moss garden, dry sand gardens, temples, and ponds on the grounds that are all well maintained.
Ginkakuji is located right next to the Philosopher's Path and is pretty easy to locate. It is definitely worth the 500 yen entrance fee. About 30 minutes away and right behind Tsubara house
is Kiyomizudera Temple.
Kiyomizudera Temple was build in 780 and built on a waterfall. The walk to it from Tsubara house and most parking is long, uphill, very crowded.....
and along the way is heavily commercialized with a ton of shops and stores selling items, and food...
but the view is really worth it.
Kyoto Tower from the grounds of Kiyomizudera Temple
At the time of our visit to Kiyomizudera Temple there was a lot of construction going on and access was restricted to only certain areas. We weren't able to see everything, but what we did see was really pretty.
One of the main attractions in Kyoto we were excited about visiting but required a longer commute to visit was Arashiyama. Arashiyama is just outside the busy city area of Kyoto, and hour from where we were staying and we had planned an entire day around it.
Arashiyama is mostly known for it's Bamboo Groves and the Monkeys that live at the top of the mountain, but there are many temples, gardens, and streets filled with shops to visit as well. Some of the temple grounds to require a fee to enter.
We visited Tenryuji temple, which is ranked first among the Arashiyama's five great Zen temples and is registered as a world heritage site. Built in 1339, the buildings were frequently destroyed in fires and wars over time, but the garden survived over time and stayed in its original form.
We made arrangements to eat lunch at, Shigetsu
, a large temple styled restaurant that is located on the grounds of Tenryuji Temple. Shigetsu strictly serves shojin ryori, which is vegetarian zen cuisine, and if you have the opportunity, you should not pass up a chance to experience shojin ryori. It is really amazing the variety and flavors that are packed into a single a meal. Reservations are required to experience it.
"Shojin Ryori is part of a practicing monk's training routine. It uses grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. To create a menu, a monk cook employs these rules: the use of 5 colors - green, yellow, red, white and black. The use of 5 cooking techniques - astringent, acid, sweet, salty and spicy. By incorporating all these elements in the prepared dishes, the meal has a balanced nutritional value and, at the same time, can entertain diners' 5 senses."
The bamboo groves are very popular in Arashiyama, but cover a much smaller area than we anticipated. It reminded us a lot of the bamboo forest of Waimoku Falls trail in Maui.
A very long walk up a mountain (and a bit hard to find, it is possible we went the wrong direction) we found the Monkeys at the Iwatayama Monkey Park and spent most of our time at Arashiyama watching them and taking photos.
The views at the top of the mountain are spectacular and give you a wide view of Kyoto.
You can walk among the monkeys freely, but you are required to feed monkeys from inside an enclosure if you wish to feed them.
Back at Tsubara home, our hostess made us a reservation at her favorite sushi restaurant in the area, Pontocho Kappa Zushi.
Once again, our Japanese host/hostess came through for us providing us when one of our favorite casual sushi restaurants in Japan that we experienced.
One our walk back from Pontocho Kappa Zushi we passed a cake shop and grabbed some dessert! Cakes are really something different in Japan, very light and fluffy.
We have come to an end of our Kyoto trip, stay tuned for our final thoughts of Kyoto!