Monday, August 25, 2008

Travel in Japan 03 - Kyoto

Trip to Kyoto
Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple and Sanju-San Gendo Temple
Monday, August 25, 2008

On Monday we decided to do some site-seeing in the morning in the historic city of Kyoto, Japan. So like Saturday, we got out of our Hotel Okuuchi Osaka and went to the near by Awaza Subway Station in Green Line and used three more individual tickets for ¥ 230 to get to Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) station. We first traveled to Hommachi station in Green (Chuo) Line and transferred to (Midosuji) Red line and arrived in Shin-Osaka.

From Shin-Osaka we took the Shinkansen Hikari Number 364 around 8:40 Am and going toward Tokyo. Kyoto was the very next stop for that train. We got out of the train and were looking for the Kyoto (Prefecture) Tourism department at the 9th floor of JR station building was not open yet. So we proceeded and picked valuable information from Kyoto city Information center in the second floor of Kyoto JR station.

Kyoto's tourist places are well connected by buses (in Hiroshima we found street cars or trams were convenient and in Osaka we found sub-ways were convenient). So at the Kyoto City Information Center we picked up the Kyoto City Bus Travel Map (aka Bus Navi Guide). Based on the places we wanted to visit the lady at the center asked us to buy City Bus All-Day Pass (for one day) at ¥ 500. At the end of the day we found that her suggestion was good.

We first headed toward Nijo Castle by taking the bus number 101. Our starting point was Kyoto Eki-mae (Kyoto_train-station_in-front). In Kyoto in city buses you board from the middle of the bus and disembark from the front (in Nara it was opposite). While disembarking you either pay ¥ 180 or get your All-Day Pass stamped once in the machine. Then you simply show the card with the current date on it. That was what we did. We got out at the Nijo-jo-mae (Nijo_castle_in-front) stop.

Nijo Castle Ticket is shown below:

The Nijo Castle is a huge place and we spent about 1 1/2 hour touring both the interior and exteriors. The castle floors still make squeaking noise when one walks on them. It was originally built that way to warn the Shoguns if somebody tries to get inside the castle with out their knowledge. We found common crows at the castle grounds and with loud mouths. There were beautiful blooming trees and a lily pond.

Then from Nijo Castle we took another bus (Bus-Navi actually lists what buses you need to take to go another location from any other location, a very convenient feature). We headed to Kinkaku-ji (and not the Ginkaku-ji Temple) Temple and took the same Bus Number 101 and got off at Kinkaku-ji-michi stop.

Kinkakuji Temple ticket is shown below:

The Kinkaku-ji temple has the beautiful golden pavilion. Even the tickets to the temple are so beautiful to look at. As you around the bend all of sudden you see the golden pavilion with a reflecting pond just next to it. Even though the day was cloudy we could still see the shiny gold color. In the pond there were several colored fish swimming around. The whole temple had a peaceful mood. Even the walk way out of the temple is so nicely done.

Then from there we went back to the Kyoto Station and had lunch at the McDonalds nearby the station. After lunch we headed to the Sanjusangen-do temple by another bus from the Kyoto JR station. In the main hall (where you have wear the shoes provided by the temple) you see 1001 Kannons. It is considered by one of the oldest and longest wooden structures in the world. Even the court yard outside with corridors filled with equally spaced orange pillars make this place really nice to visit.

SanjuSanGendo Temple ticket is shown below:

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