I stayed overnight at my friends' hotel while I'm in Kyoto this time round. Their hotel is 30 minutes by Densha and it cost 650Yen single trip. Here is the plan - Yesterday we have conquered the eastern end of Kyoto, today we will be visiting the central and north side of Kyoto.
The Best of Japan sights for this trip is Kinkakuji while the rest are considered to be Outstanding. Comparatively, we will be relying more on public transport today as the places we are visiting are further away.
One of my friend gave me his breakfast voucher. Their breakfast area has a cosy and comfortable ambience to it.
And also a great western breakfast which cost 1,000Yen.
1. Nishi Honganji
Nishi Honganji Temple(西本願寺) is the head temple of the Honganji branch of the Jodo Shinshu sect. I didn't know about this school until two and a half years back when a fellow Japanese colleague introduced me to it. This school is a highly developed (or evolved) branch of Jodo Buddhism. In which the recitation of the Buddha's name is done with gratitude. There are also a number of practices which is quite impressive. On the main temple architecture itself, unfortunately it is undergoing renovation until 2008, so there is no good photoshot of it other than the gate.
On the way to the other Honganji temple, we came upon a koii pond. They are placed along a public pedestrian area.
2. Higashi Honganji
Here is the main teaching hall of the Higashi Honganji temple(東本願寺). Unfortunately too, the main temple hall is also under renovation till 2010.
3. Jijo castle
We took a subway to the Jijo castle which is 3 stops away, costing 210Yen. There is a large moat surrounding the castle.
It started drizzling slightly but we are able to get indoors for the visit to the palace grounds. This palace is occupied by the shogun himself for some time. But the unique feature about the palace is the nightingale floor design. When people walk over it, it will make a series of squeezing sound. This is to prevent unauthorized visitors to the building. There are also many hidden walls around the place where the guards watch over the building.
Surrounding the castle is a beautiful garden.
At the top of one of the sentry post is a spendid view of the multi-colored autumn trees.
4. Imperial Palace Garden
It is around 12noon and we moved on for our lunch. Lunch is simple and we had it at Matsuya (somewhat like Yoshinoya). We walked a further 20 minutes to our next destination, the Imperial Palace Garden. It is a remarkably large garden.
At the centre of the garden is the Imperial Palace itself.
To get to our final destination for the day, we decided to take a bus there. Fortunately, there is a bus going to Kinkakuji round the area. We were somewhat captivated by the bus arrival timing system at each bus stop. It clearly show the bus arrival times as well as the number of minutes remaining and the location of the bus.
After alighting from the bus, on the road up to the main temple entrance, we saw this large kanji word for the English word 'Big'. This word will be lighted up during summer time with a number of other words around Kyoto. It is celebrated by the Nichiren Shoshu school.
Viola! Here is the golden temple(金閣寺). The time when we arrived at the temple is perfect as the sun is past its highest point and at a certain degree on the horizon, giving the temple a golden glitter and reflection on the lake. This photo is better than the ones on postcards.
A view from the back.
Me with a backdrop of autumn leaves.
The main highlight of the temple is the golden temple. We took a bus back to the station at 4pm. We are clearly exhausted from these 2 days of intensive travel.
We got back to the Kyoto station at 5pm. As I will be leaving Kyoto at 6.30pm by bus, we decided to explore the station further. The highest point in the station is 10 stories high. Here is a photoshot of the Kyoto Tower in the evening.
The view from the 10th storey down. A series of cold wind start blowing in. We rapidly take refuge within the building itself and have our dinner there.
There is a mega christmas tree in the station. It is a month and a half to christmas but the station is already decorated up for it. A electrone live concert is ongoing in the evening.
The journey back to Tokaidai takes 4 hours by bus. Luckily I have 40 minutes buffer time in between my bus transit as the first bus is 25 minutes late. I got back to my dorm around 10.50pm.