April 8, 2007
Japan, Part 3 : Kyoto
On Monday morning, we took the train from Kurashiki to Kyoto, where we’d be spending two nights. Upon our arrival at the hotel, we, of course, ate. We went to the hotel restaurant where we had — as we had in the cafeteria in Kurashiki — Japanese-style curry with rice. (The curry rice was 300 yen — about $2.50 — in Kurashiki. At the hotel in Kyoto, this was about $20. Tasty, though. Very, very tasty.)
Our lunch included tea, which included a slice of lemon. The lemon slice had been peeled. Good thing, or I’d totally have caused a scene.
The restaurant had a huge dessert case. (We were stuffed, so we just looked.)
An aside… the exit signs in Japan are great. Run! Run through this door! RUN!!!
The lobby of our hotel (Hotel Okura). It was huge.
Then we headed out to start out sightseeing. First stop: Nishi-Honganji temple, one of the dozens of temples in Kyoto. We arrived just in time for this ceremony.
Here’s a shot that my camera couldn’t quite understand. Apparently it had never tried to shoot this much gold in a single frame.
From there, we walked to another temple. We took what looked on the map like a shortcut, and ended up on this incredibly narrow residential road. Kyoto is amazing because there are all of these ancient temples on the same block as tiny houses.
Next stop: Higashi-Honganji temple. These temples were originally built in 1272, and rebuilt in 1895. (Can you spot AEJ in this photo?) The structure to the right is not a new building, but actually a temporary encasing, built to protect a temple that is undergoing restoration.
That night, we took the train to Kobe for Kobe beef, which I’ve already written about extensively. Here’s the Kyoto train station — a stunning piece of modern architecture, and even more amazing to see in a city with so many ancient buildings.
Breakfast the next morning was at the hotel. This time, pastries…
… and fresh (delicious, refreshing) yogurt.
There seemed to be a girls’ school graduation party happening in our hotel lobby that morning.
After breakfast, we headed out for more sightseeing. Next up: Kinkakuji, an incredible golden temple.
And just because it’s so damn pretty, here’s another shot.
The entire grounds were beautiful. Here was a place where you could make a wish. I wished for a super hot fiancee, and voila. These women were wishing for an annoying American guy to take their picture, and… voila.
I realize there’s no shortage of pretty nature shots in Kyoto, but do you see the amazing color of this moss?!
Here’s a vending machine outside of the temple. Wataru tells me that the text above the aliens’ head says, “Earth was yummy.” Yes it was, my alien friend. Yes it was.
Our next stop was a zen rock garden. I love the welcoming poster. In addition to pointing out that it’s on the list of world cultural heritage sites, there’s a green line around the entire perimeter of the grounds. What does the green line signify? If you could zoom in, you’d see: “Special Place of Scenic Beauty.” The entire park.
An orange gate welcomes us. These gates seem to have been the inspiration behind Christo’s Gates in Central Park a few years ago. Oh, except these are actually an attractive color. Nice safety orange, Christo. (Those gates bugged me. They were an amazing idea, I thought, but the color was awful.)
Speaking of color, here’s a totally non-doctored shot from this garden. Man, I love the color a Canon camera produces. (I just purchased a new camera this week — another Canon, but with a lot more manual control than the SD800 offered. More on that soon, I promise you.)
Some buds from a plum tree.
The same garden — and another nice picture.
From there, we took a taxi to Nishiki Market. This was where our dinner that night would come from. Being a fan of pictures of food, this was going to be fun…
I think there’s a song about this guy. One amazing thing about this market was the smell — in a good way. I’d expected an open-air market, selling primarily fresh fish, to smell, well, like dead fish. But there was no smell at all.
This would be a fine… dessert?
This… well, it’s certainly a pretty silver color! Iridescent fish are cool.
Fish on a stick? Anyone?
Snacks and sweets. If I could read Japanese characters, this would probably look like chaos, but since I can’t, it just looks to me like pretty colors with abstract characters.
Again with the pretty colors.
This flower shop had the most beautiful orchids I’ve ever seen.
But the market also had this. I’m sure this is delicious, but it looks a little horror-movie-esque. Somehow, I suspect that Newman would love it.
And look! Another cute funny
Any why not wash it all down with a glass of bruce pee from the Ill Store?
Here are dozens upon dozens of bicycles parked at the market. Not a single one was locked.
Mmm! Those hats look delicious, don’t they, you funny little plastic girl?
So, that’s the Kyoto market and a few temples. From there, we went to check into Tawaraya Ryokan, the famous historic Japanese inn where we’d be staying that night. If you thought there were some crazy food pictures in this entry, just you wait.