This is the beginning of the last entries in this blog for me…. the rest of the last days in Japan description.
First of all… I am going to start with the Trip to Kyoto. This entry will be a bit longer… so click for more and enjoy it dear readers!
I spent a total of three days in Kyoto at the end of March 2008 and beginning of April. Kyoto itself is different from Tokyo, much more tourist and many tourist attractions…. of course the main content of this article will be tourist attractions… but I’ll try to keep it short🙂 Just see it as a short guide with information in case you ever have the chance to visit Kyoto.
So what can you see, when you visit Kyoto? Well lots of temples… big gates… an imperial palace… gardens…. zen gardens… and so on. Many things to see, you’ll need a couple of days just for the main attractions.
So for starters, the Golden Palace in the nothern part of town is a good start. Always crowded but a must see! The Silver Palace (yes they have this one as well) is in the south-eastern part of town. Here’s two pictures for starters..
It is really nice, especially on sunny days. But you have to make your way through huge crowds of tourists groups. There’s a bus station right next to the main entrance of the area, easy to reach. As you make your way through the crowds, you can take a look at this building from various angles. There are also other buildings to see, lot’s of gardens and much more.
After that you are probably in the mood for some more interesting temples and gates. A bit more to the northern-central part is a huge area, where you can find many temples, zen gardens and nice toris (gates). Wanna see some examples? Look at this gate and the zen gardens…
The last small „zen garden“ is indeed the smallest zen garden of the world🙂 I found it inside the house of a bigger zen garden. Rumors says that zen gardens are really beautiful during rain. I had the chance to observe this first hand… and it is definitely true. Amazing how calm and nice it is there… I mean just looking at stones should not be so interesting, but if you get in the mood, you can really relax there.
So for the first day, I visited mainly the Golden Temple and Zen Gardens. At night, I went through the shopping streets, just to take a look around. I found a nice gaming parlour… where they had a four station Gundam Arcade game. Four people could get into the cockpit of a Gundam Mobile Suit Armor and fight in a story line for around 30 minutes or 1 hour. The waiting list was quite long, but I guess it must have been fun to play.
Another thing that I definitely wanted to see was the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. A short advise here, you can only visit the temple with a guided tour, there’s the option to go there without reserving it and by chance they have free places. Or you go to their website and reserve in advance. Here’s the link… (remember Japanese timeshift)
So I booked a couple of months in advance (actually 2) and went there for the 10am tour. It was really interesting, a nice Japanese woman showed us around and explained many interesting things. For example how difficult it is to make the traditional Japanese roofs. Take a look…
The roof is made out of many many layers. The replacement for the old roofs if really expensive, they last for around 20 years, then they have to be replaced. Another interesting fact… the palace has gates on every side. But the gate on the South side is reserved for the Tenno alone. His wife and kids have to get in on the Western side gate🙂
The family of the Tenno also has a nice residence over at the palace, with a huge Japanese Garden… care for some pictures? Here you go:
Really nice isn’t it…. and yet the Imperial family is usually not staying at the palace when they visit Kyoto. What’s the reason? Well the tour guide explained it… there’s no TV or internet connection🙂 Basic needs for todays Japanese…
Also I got to know, where the orange color comes from, which you can find on all kinds of temples, gates, walls and buildings… (for an example take a look at the next picture). It comes back from the Chinese, they used some red to paint their buildings for protection against ghosts… so the Japanese tried to imitate this color during a period where they had a good relation with China… you can find the walls around the inner Imperial Palace all colored in this orange… even the gates.. so all the ghosts have to stay outside. Superstitious… maybe a bit🙂
So that’s all for this part… rest of the tour descriptions in the second part (really soon available)