Kyoto - Nijo Castle, Golden Pavilion & more.....
Updated: Feb 24
Up early to head to Train Station by 7.45am, again meeting point to have breakfast and stand in-line to ensure seat on Bullet train (non-reserved carriage). After arriving back in Osaka caught another train to Kyoto and then another 2 JR trains to get to Hotel (4 trains). Walked to Hotel, again with all luggage to the B-Kyoto-Sanjo. Unable to check-in until 3pm, too early so off walking to site-see.
First stop was along the river headed towards city streets and main local shopping Mall/Plaza. Stopped off and had dumplings for morning snack before booking in to watch a Season-Only floorshow/musical of Kimono people doing play, adaption to Shakespeare. Not really impressed, but not quite as bad as Water Puppet show in Hanoi. Move seats and got told off as they were reserved seating (no-one in them, lol).
Walked the tight, small lanes which had tiny bars and eateries onward to catch subway to Nijo Castle.
Very impressed with the Nijo Castle, the history and story surrounding the Shogun and how their daily lives were conducted etc.
The gorgeous style of this castle was intended as a demonstration of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616)'s prestige and was the residence of the Tokugawa shoguns in Kyoto, who had been ruling Japan for over 260 years from 1603 to 1868, and it remains an eloquent testimony to their power.
The wide moat, massive stone walls, and heavy yet elaborate gates are still impressive, and were the only fortifications the inhabitants felt necessary, so firm was their grip on power. The grounds are large and contain several lovely gardens as well as groves of plum and cherry trees. The palace building itself is imposing, yet upon closer examination, is rich in decorative detail.
Inside the palace are several masterpieces of Japanese art, most notably the painted screens of the main chamber. In this room the shoguns met the daimyo (high-ranking warlord-administrators) who sought an audience.
The screens were painted by artists of the Kano school and employ rich colours and large amounts of gilt to depict flowers, trees, birds and tigers. ‘They were meant to impress’. Also the most intriguing factor in the palace are the famous "nightingale floors," which were designed to squeak when stepped on and thus alert guards to any intruders.
After, as we ventured back to Hotel we passed a quaint corner store that sold genuine and replica Samurai Swords, ninja stars and similar paraphernalia, very nice. Back to Hotel where Karen stayed behind and re-did the damp-smelly laundry with Nicola. Karen needed some down time and stayed in Hotel room to re-charge etc while Brian, Nicola and I ventured out with group to the Geisha Streets to site-see.
After as a group of 8 we experienced a local diner which served Japanese Pasta with Kiyone. The meals were adequate for Japanese Pasta in comparison with Italian Pasta, however Brian’s meal had heaps of Coriander, lol, not impressed (Coriander Hater).
Returned to Hotel to set in for the night, let myself in lobby and up to room, knock, knock, knock (Very curious). Hahahaha, Karen very slow to answer door as she had fallen asleep after some down time, warm shower and relaxing.
25 May Today we head out to 3 very exciting areas of interest, after breakfast we again hit the train stations for a trip out to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine – ‘torii’ gates. On arrival we first stopped at a monument of a bronze fox with an object in its mouth, then Kiyoe explained the history and story behind the monument, the purpose of the fox and the torii gates. We then walked to the ‘torii’ gates along a tree lined avenue entering a large open courtyard area, cleansing station, Shrine and other ornate buildings.
So once inside we walked the paths of the 5,000 plus gates leading up and through densely vegetated rainforest like hillside, up to a series of lookouts and smaller shrine and praying areas. The enormous number of tourists and local people made it next to impossible to get photos of rows of gates without people, luckily with much cooperation and politeness from everyone, some people absent photos were achieved, exciting. (refer to Blog)
Next as a group we walked to have lunch, and the awesome 4some found a Café for a local tandoori chicken and Japanese style salad lunch special, very nice lunch. We then met at the lane entrance to walk through the Sagano Bamboo Forest past the local eatery and trading stores. Again, heavily crowed with tourists.
The towering green stalks of the famously versatile plant sway in the wind, creaking eerily they collide and twist, leaves rustling. The sun filters through the densely packed grove, projecting thin slashes of light onto the dozens of camera-clutching tourists shuffling down the wide trail that cuts through the middle of the forest as they awkwardly angle their shots, attempting to crop human forms out of their frames. A peaceful walk along the pathways up and through the Bamboo to the top breezeway, and then back down through some laneways past local homes and yards, very pleasant walk.
The group then decided to head back to the Hotel, however our group of 4some decided to venture onwards by local buses to the Golden Pavilion. Kinkakuji Temple’s Golden Pavilion is probably Kyoto’s most famous sight. Covered in glittering gold leaf, the pavilion dazzles admirers as it shimmers in the sunlight over its mirroring pond. Both the temple and its delightful Zen stroll garden are a must visit location.
Adventure plus was had on the local buses, interchange and it didn’t stop there. We then had to get home, it was like a scene from ‘The Amazing Race’, trying to get directions, language issues, going this way, walking that way and each person having a separate idea….So I found a young male I assumed could speak English, a German tourist who helped and advised to catch the No 52 bus. Well that went well, NOT, bus went wrong way, went 2 stops and driver told us to get off, as it was the last stop (end of the line).
We then crossed the road to what looked like a bus interchange in front of a College, and somehow worked out what bus to catch. Boarded and tried to follow direction on Me. Maps and then finally a safety point finally surfaced, the Nijo Shrine, so off the bus to catch the JR line back to Hotel.
Worked out really well for me as I said to Karen earlier that I really wished I bought a Ninja star as a souvenir from the shop we passed after our visit to the Nijo Castle the day before. Winner winner, bought 1 style of Ninja Star, happy boy….
Back to Hotel to rest for around 1 hour or so, freshen up and then head out as Nicola wanted to go back to the Kyoto Station to see the light show on the steps, very entertaining and colorful. The Kyoto Station Building is the famed “big stairs”, with 171 steps studded with about 15,000 LEDs that generate amazing light shows created for the season of your stay.
Walked around and saw a light/water fountain show in front of Station but had to wait for next showing. So, we walked across the road for coffee/ice cream and then back to watch the water show, was a letdown, however...opportunity.
In closing, 'Take Every Chance You Get In Life, Because Some Things Only Happen ONCE', & let my stories and experience give you inspiration to create your own Moments.
Another 'Rivetting Moment', to inspire & ignite the traveller in you, to broaden life challenges & experiences!!!