Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kyoto, Japan - Tour

Wednesday, May 8
The morning started with an immigration process on the ship.  All passengers, even those not going ashore, were required to get a day pass and give fingerprints.  We were videotaped going through the process to allow for a facial recognition process to take place.  Very fast, very efficient.   Staging for the tour was in the Wheelhouse, where the group waited for the tour number to be called.  We were called early, and “queued for the tickets and our group number.  The groups were assembled early and we all moved to the bus about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.  We boarded the bus from the left side as the driver drove on the right.
We drove through Osaka to Kyoto.  Both cities are modern with older housing sections.  The section between the two cities was filled with farms, mostly rice.  The highway is raised and life continues in the sections below.  Most of the highway was walled in and I’m not sure if it is to keep the view contained or to keep the traffic hidden from the rural perspective.

Our first stop was the Fushimi Inari Shrine.  Built in 711, it is one of Kyoto’s oldest and celebrated shrines and is famous for its 10,000 brilliant red gates that arch over a pathway that leads to a hilltop overlooking Kyoto.  Brilliant red gates!!  I was very excited about seeing these.  We walked uphill through a shop area and entered the shrine area.  Weaving our way through, we finally came to the brilliant red gates…and I was not disappointed.  The large gates were in the front section and smaller gates in the last section. 

Our next stop was lunch and we went to a traditional Japanese restaurant along the river.  Shoes off and in to a locker.  The tables were low with low seating, although we were not on the ground. The presentation was beautiful and the quality of the food was very high.  I liked (and ate) everything except a seaweed gel piece.  The group was then able to tour the Japanese gardens.

Our next stop was the Ryoanji Temple, noted for its tranquil Zen garden.  The walk started around a lake lined with flowers and flowering trees.  One of the lake photos is shown.  Notice the arched bridge in the background.  As I looked at the photo now, it reminded me of Monet’s garden in Giverney.  Perhaps this is where he got his inspiration.  We entered the Temple, took off our shoes and walked on the polished wooden floors.  I was able to sit and look at the Zen Garden and contemplate.  I think that I solved a lot of my issues!

The last stop was at the Kiyomizu Temple, founded in 778 on the site of a rushing waterfall, believed to have mystical powers. We toured the main four buildings then walked the long path to the separate pagoda.  On the return route,  I found the place where you can sample the mystical powered water. The cups had long handles and were made of metal.  They rested in an infrared sterilizer.  So, cheers to a long life!

Back through the crowded streets with the interesting shops, I saw a fellow passenger with an ice cream cone that looked refreshing, so I bought one for 300 yen (about $3) and it was a nice and cool treat. I also bought some water out of the vending machine for 120 yen. I was stressed to figure out how it worked, but it does not take an advanced degree.  And if you look a little closer at the man in the foreground, you can see that he is carrying his Ninja dog complete with a Ninja sword.

1 comment:

Ginan said...

That is quite a day of touring! Thanks for sharing.