Japan: Kyoto

Having “done” the big city and the nature, it was time to take in some culture. Kyoto and Nara are the “old” parts of Japan with many of the most beautiful and most famous temples. I didn’t see all of them but I did pretty well! The difference in character between them was fascinating.

Pretty much straight off the Shinkansen I headed to Kiyomizudera. This was, by far, the busiest and most crowded temple of the trip ((There was one in Nara that came close, but the busy-ness was isolated. Here it was everywhere!)). Quite an odd atmosphere for a temple in any case.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Views away from the temple were also worth taking. You could see much of Kyoto from the top.

View over Kyoto from Kiyomizu-dera Temple

As is typical in temples and Japan in general, you have to take your shoes off before you enter. I liked the contrast between the formal, the casual and the furry. I deliberately brought slip-on shoes to Japan to make this kind of operation easier but fate conspired against me and I ended up wearing my walking shoes on days when, perhaps, I should have taken the Vans.

Shoes outside Kiyomizu-dera Temple

After Kiyomizudera I headed downhill and found a whole host of other, smaller temples. This one had hundreds of lanterns all around.

Lanterns outside a temple

My favourite temple in Kyoto was the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji). The first thing to note about the Silver Pavilion is that it’s not silver.

Sand Garden in Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

They never quite finished it. But what they did finish was very tranquil and beautiful.

Coins tossed in a pond, in Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

One nice thing was that it was much bigger than it looked. After the sand garden were some ponds, more temples.

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

And some more views back over Kyoto.

View over Kyoto from Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

Even mundane elements looked attractive in the long, evening light.

Sunset shadows, Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)

At the other end of town is the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji). This one actually lives up to its name, having plenty of gold on show.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Compared with the Silver Pavilion, however, what it lacked was subtlety. You walk in the gate and it’s there, right in front of you.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Big. Golden. Pavilion-y.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

To be fair I’m selling it very short. There was more to it than just the Pavilion, and it was all well worth seeing.

Coins, Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

The final temple of the trip was Ryoanji, which had a different feel and pace again. This was was more about the gardens, though there were temples in the grounds.

Ryoanji Temple

One of the central points was a large sand garden. Lots of people just sat in contemplation.

Sandgarden in Ryoanji Temple

It was bright and in direct sunlight at the time I was there, so I sat around the corner in the shade!

Sand garden, Ryoanji Temple

The next instalment will be of Nara which is a smaller but older capital city.