We got an early start, showered, dressed, and set out for the train station to buy bus passes before 8:00 am. 2,000 Yen for a 2 day all bus all subway pass is a good deal… also because it means you don’t have to pay attention to which company bus or subway you want to use, because in the city of Kyoto there are at least 3-4 different companies for public transit and most other passes don’t cover them all. At least we got a great (not to scale, of course) map of sights and bus routes (very useful).
We caught the 101 bus and arrived (after ~40 minutes) at Kinkakuji, the Golden Temple, right as it opened at 9:00 am. Even then it was swarmed with tourists – being one of the most touristy temples in Kyoto. It was impressive but still kind of too touristy to feel like a temple… perhaps it was the crowd.
After that, we walked 15 minutes to the Zen Gardens (Ryoanji Temple) and relaxed there for a while. The place was quite beautiful, but I wouldn’t pretend to know about the meaning behind things and little was in English (besides our tourist map).
At the Zen gardens we decided to split into pairs and Anita and I walked another 20 minutes to Ninnaji Temple. This set of temples ended up being the old Imperial Palace. There were many Temple and Pagoda, nice easy to walk avenues of gravel, and it was blissfully not crowded.
After that, Anita and I must have changed our minds about 6 times, as to what to do next. There was no question about what to do first – find food. We walked back the way we came and ended up eating at a random place right around where we decided we could go no further without food. The food was ok (Anita had Iced Ramen, literally) and the waiter was a water ninja, uncommon in Japan but quite nice because it was so HOT.
We wanted to go to the monkey park (in a future posting) but thought it too far to get to and be able to do anything else. We wanted to go to the Art Museum which we passed, but there was an air of non-English speaking around the museum and for some reason we didn’t go; probably because I was so eager to see the Kyoto Museum for World Peace (KMWP), a part of Ritsumeikan University. It wasn’t on the tour map, and though I knew it was in this area, we were faith navigating and eventually gave up. We decided to head out for the monkey park anyway, and started faith navigating to get to a bus stop on the right route and ran into the Peace Museum. KMWP was fantastic. It was very unbiased and covered a time period from the 15 year war (before WWII) until present day (in addition to the other war crimes and 3rd world genocides you might expect, they made mention of the fact that the USA as the only super power left in the world seems to bully it’s way into the world, often quite violently and aggressively). More information on this museum can be found here.
Afterwards, we bussed down to the hotel and showered, met up with Karen and April who had gone to the monkey park and said it was awesome. We decided on Soba for dinner and walked to a nice place we’d noticed the night before. The food was very good, especially the cold (room temp) soba Anita and April ordered. We then walked around for a half an hour and crashed.