After Sports Day, I had the week off, so I went to Kyoto with 2 teachers that live in my building, Mac and Allison. We took a “rapid train” (not as fast as the bullet train), it took about 1-1/2 hours. The Kyoto train station has 2 tourist offices, that were fabulous. We were able to find cheap accommodations that were centrally located near nightlife and shopping.
I was hesitant and a little intimidated about traveling in Japan, but after going to Kyoto I feel much more confident. Each day, we went to 3 temples, shrines or places by bus, train or walking. We also happen to be in Kyoto for the monthly flea market which had all kinds of antiques, food and art. My favorite places were Fushimi Inari shrine, a shrine with thousands of Tori Gates that line a 4km path over the mountains and Arraishiyama, the bamboo forests. There is so much to see and do! I plan on returning to Kyoto multiple times – it’s a spectacular city. When I figure out how to create photo albums I'll post more pictures.
By the way, I stopped in at a foreign food store and picked up a couple of cans of refried beans and a jar of curry paste. I miss Mexican food!!
Here are some pictures of the shrines, temples and places I visited.
This is Fushimi Inari, a shinto shrine with thousands of tori gates.
Chion-in is a budhist temple with the largest bell in Japan. It weighs 67 tons and takes 17 priests to ring the bell.
We also went to the Golden Pavilion and Ryoan-ji temple. Ryoan-ji temple has a zen garden with 15 stones/rocks but only 14 can be viewed from any angle. As peaceful as both of these places look in the pictures, they were jammed packed with tourists.
Yasaka Shrine is in the middle of Gion. It was fun walking around at night.
Arashiyama has the bamboo forests and some wonderful shrines as well. We went to Nenbutsu-ji temple with thousands of little buddahs. They were retrieved from the bamboo forests and placed in this temple.
This isn't a shrine but I was surprised to find some Circle Ks in Kyoto.