Japan 2010: Day 8 Kyoto- Kinkakuji and Gion

Our trip on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto began with a sighting of some sumo wrestlers! Dressed is airy summer yukata they waited for a train on the other side of our platform!

As always when travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto make sure to sit in seats D & E to try and get a view of Mount Fuji as you fly past. As is often the case in the summer the weather wasn’t on our side, but if you look closely you can see the view peak of Fuji peering out to say hello.

Kyoto is absolutely scorching hot in summer, we though Tokyo had been on the warm side but somehow Kyoto was so much worse, and we had the bad luck of a sunny day to roast our skin too. We were of course visiting Kyoto to absorb some history and visit a number of shrines and temples while we were there.

Once we reached Kyoto station we headed up right up to the northern edge of the city ariming for Kinkakuji, possibly one of the most famous buildings in Kyoto, thanks to the coating of gold leaves which adorn the main temple building. Before getting to Kinkakuji we visited the lesser known Ninna-ji, a sprawling temple complex which was founded in the year 888. You can see from the map at the entrance that the complex is enorumous!

On arrival at Ninna-ji you are greeted by the enormous Niomon gate and the two guardians houses within. We wandered around the complex for a while, but didn’t make it to the 5 story pagoda which was built in the 1600’s, and meant to be quite stunning during sakura season. The sun beating down on us made us flee from the open grounds of Ninna-ji and walk up hill to Kinkakuji.

Kinkakuji is set within a small garden, with beautifully pruned pines and other Japanese garden elements. It is actually surprisingly small for such a famous place so a visit doesn’t take that long. The most time consuming part of the visit is getting through the throngs of tourists to be able to see the temple itself.

After walking more under the boiling sun we made our way to the Gion region of Kyoto to find our urban ryokan for the night. Ryokan are more traditional lodgings which often feature tatami floors, futon bedding and impeccable service. We chose to stay at Ryokan Kohro which was in walking distance of Gion and the world of Kyoto’s Geiko (called Geisha in Tokyo and internationally).

Ryokan Kohro were responsible in starting an obsession that still holds to this day, which is a long time considering this was all the way back in 2010! That is my obsession with sukiyaki! Sukiyaki is a type of hotpot meal which consists of cooking thinly cut meat and vegetables in a sweet and savoury soy sauce broth. It is like eating heaven!

It is also incredibly filling, but after a freshly sliced grapefruit we were ready for the 20 minute walk to the Gion area, which is best explored after dark.

Unfortunately my old camera didn’t do justice to such a beautiful place, so you will have to go and explore one day to experience it all.

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