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 trip1. Quite an odd atmosphere for a temple in any case.
Views away from the temple were also worth taking. You could see much of Kyoto from the top.
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.
After Kiyomizudera I headed downhill and found a whole host of other, smaller temples. This one had hundreds of lanterns all around.
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.
They never quite finished it. But what they did finish was very tranquil and beautiful.
One nice thing was that it was much bigger than it looked. After the sand garden were some ponds, more temples.
And some more views back over Kyoto.
Even mundane elements looked attractive in the long, evening light.
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.
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.
Big. Golden. Pavilion-y.
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.
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.
One of the central points was a large sand garden. Lots of people just sat in contemplation.
It was bright and in direct sunlight at the time I was there, so I sat around the corner in the shade!
The next instalment will be of Nara which is a smaller but older capital city.
- There was one in Nara that came close, but the busy-ness was isolated. Here it was everywhere! [↩]