Kyoto, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

We spent the day sightseeing in Kyoto again, hitting up the area around Utano with the aid of another all-day bus pass. The first breath of fresh air after exiting the cramped quarters of the youth hostel was indescribable. Even the bus smelled wonderful in comparison.

Our first stop was 龍安寺 (Ryouanji), a temple in western Kyoto that is nationally famous for its 15-stone rock garden. The garden is quite small for being such a renowned thing, and while it was pleasantly austere and clean, I was hardly inspired. I am not a Zen scholar, nor am I knowledgeable on the subject of the Asian aesthetic, but I thought it was lovely and peaceful despite the huge crowds staring and audibly counting each stone.

Next we took the bus to (Kinkakuji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion). We were funneled through gates in the midst of about a hundred other tourists who were entering at the same time, and after paying the admission and elbowing around a bit, we managed to see the temple. It was quite a sight to behold.

Upon closer inspection, the gold almost looks fake. As is the case with the vast majority of historical landmarks in Japan, Kinkakuji was the unlucky victim of several fires and destructive forces. We came to the tentative conclusion that whoever was in charge of the most recent rebuilding of the temple might have just dropped by the hardware store, picked up some gold spray paint, and saved himself a few million dollars.

But I know that’s not true. And the temple is quite impressive. If you look very closely, you can actually see the texture of the gold, so no worries.

We bussed it over to eastern Kyoto to walk the Path of Philosophy since it was such a nice day, and stopped for lunch at the same place as before. We ran into Cyrano (we think that’s his name, though he looks nothing like Gerard Depardieu), a French train driver guy who was in Japan on a booty call and was staying in the same room as Aaron and Kyle back at the Youth Hostel.

We pondered the meaning of life as we strolled along the path bordering a tiny stream, tried not to hit our heads on the hanging sakura branches, and managed to avoid the temptation to push slow walkers into the water. The walk was breathtaking, really, despite the crowds, and it made me think about the significance of cherry blossoms in Japan.

We returned to the Youth Hostel too early after it began to get dark, but it gave Kyle a chance to call his loved ones finally. His mom and grandma had been calling my phone and leaving messages at 4am for several days, but it took a while for us to figure out the international calling system and actually remember to do it. I’ve never once made an international call from Japan. Sad.

After calls were made and we were beginning to get restless, we decided to take a walk around the area in order to escape Utano for as long as possible. It was dark and fine, and after walking along the main road for a ways we found a deserted shrine to sit at and talk for a while.

Everyone was in a better mood afterwards, and we optimistically returned to Ooo, tuna to go to sleep.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6