Friday, August 2, 2013

July 15; Golden Pavillion, Silver Pavillon, Red Temple, & Colourful Yukatas

Day 8 in Japan; Day 160 in Asia
Arrival time in Kyoto: 6am. 
We arrive at our hostel which is tucked away in a small neighbourhood with traditional looking Japanese houses. After checking into the hostel where we were greeted so kindly, we didn't waste a moment of our time and set off to explore the new old city. Unlike Tokyo, which is a huge, hustle and bustle metropolitan, Kyoto feels quaint, smaller, and has a sense of a more traditional city.

First stop: Hirano Jinja (Jinja = Shrine)
Near the entrance of the shrine is a purification fountain. Here, you fill the wooden ladle with the water from the purification fountain and then rinse your hands with it. Then you transfer some water into your hand and rinse your mouth with it. I didn't actually see anyone rinse their mouth, but I did see some ladies wipe their mouth with the water
Doing what the locals do
Photo cred: Cat
purification station
tying wishes
Second stop: Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavillion)
Through the bushes
and bamboo forest...
Here it is! very gold indeed. 
Photo Cred: Cat
throwing money at the mini monuments
At the temple on the grounds, you have the option of lighting a prayer candle for a specific type of good fortune. That is 50 Yen per prayer please (and no I did not involve myself in this tradition).
Admission to Kinkaku-Ji = 400 Yen

Third stop: Ginkaku-Ji (Silver Pavilion)
As you can see, the silver pavillion is not silver nor shiny... it's musky brown. I'm not sure what happened in the translation process.
in the moss garden
Although the grounds has a nice walk around, it is much smaller than the golden pavillion. 
Admission to Ginkaku-Ji = 500 Yen (yes, silver was more than gold)
(Gold wins this one for being true to its name, more spacious, and cheaper. )
After lunch (convenient store onigiri for me since I can't readily get stuff like that in Toronto), we were on a hunt for a cool dessert treat. While walking, we found the stall where DiCaprio bought an ice popsicle from when he was promoting Inception. Didn't end up stopping here though.
There are quite a few stores lined up selling cool desserts. Shaved ice, or as Canadians call it snow cones, is pretty big here, but we were on a search for something authentic - matcha green tea ice cream. Signage is in Japanese, but with my limited knowledge, I was able to read a sign that said the store offered student discount. I was very happy about that and the green tea ice cream. 

Fourth stop: Gion Temple
To get to the temple, you need to walk through the streets that are crowded with tourists, locals, and stores. That walk is a fun little adventure on its own.
Walking up to the temple
To get in the temple, there is a fee. We just walked wandered around it and decided to explore the streets some more. There were so many speciality treats shop where the samples were in abundance. We got to sample a whole bunch of treats from pickled eggplants to flavourful rice cakes.
pickled stuff for sale
After indulging on samples, we make our way down to the city where the Gion Matsuri festivities were.  Gion Matsuri is one of Japan's biggest festivals. It takes place during the whole month of July. The beginning of the month is the time to prepare the lanterns and floats for the big parade on the final weekend. The streets are shut down during the final weekend and flooded with floats, food stalls, carnival games, entertainers, and company of their good others.
We were people watching
Street food: egg noodles. 
Beer garden
bartenders dressed as geishas
a sea of people
Matsuris (festivals) are a time for people to strut their stuff in traditional Japanese outfits. For the ladies, they wear called yukatas, which is similar to a kimono but is much more manageable and thinner for summer nights. After walking for quite a bit and watching quite a bit of people wear yukatas I ended up buying one as well. I figured I could wear it during the festival tomorrow, the actual parade, and maybe at some sort of nerd convention in Toronto.

Kyoto you have made a great impression on me already. 

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