Saturday, March 3, 2018

Day Trips to Kyoto

Handy Quick Links to our Blog Highlights

Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan with dozens of shrines, temples, and palaces.  We chose to stay in Osaka our entire month instead of moving to Kyoto midterm.  The reason was more financial than logistical...since Kyoto is an hour outside of Osaka.  However in assessing the rental rates for two weeks in two different locations, versus a full month in one, even the cost of transportation between cities still made it advantageous to stay put.

We have been enjoying our shoe-box apartment in Osaka.  It is centrally located and we have become familiar with the neighborhood.  We know where everything is and we have ventured out daily, each time in a different direction.

Having covered all of the "must sees" in Osaka...and a bit was time to start exploring Kyoto.  Using a travel book that Marlena gifted us and our favorite website for planning day trips - - we planned five day trips.  We were pretty aggressive and decided to start with a big list and work it down based on our interest, time, and cost factor.

We planned our first day with some temples on the far north of the city center.  We get "templed out" pretty quick as most to naive tourists such as ourselves look and offer the same as the next.  We picked three that had unique features and got out our train schedule.  Two hours later, having switched trains two or three times, and then a one mile hike, we arrived at the first temple.

Based on the Zen concept this palace grounds are covered by unique gravel raked gardens, down in straight line and curved patterns that are mesmerizing.  The trees are beautifully and uniquely sculpted.  The interiors of the palace and temple buildings are interesting in that there is little or no furniture.  This is common in Asia as most sat on cushions on the floors and the whole minimalist concept was eternal through the centuries.  It wasn't until the European concept came in around the early 1900's that palaces started using more traditional western styled interiors.

 The gardens in this location were superb.

 The adjoining temple and shrine area had the traditional massive gathering hall, shrines with altars. and a superb multi-storied pagoda.

 The gold plated lotus sculptures were unique.

From there we followed the mountain road through a couple of miles of suburban homes and businesses to the next temple.  This one featured huge gardens and a unique zen garden.

 Although we had three temples on our list, we decided to not visit the last and instead took a detour to visit the peace museum.  We were two of four people in the entire place and it was a couple of hours well spent.  The first half was devoted to the building of the Japanese war ethic and concept of conquering the world.  In this way the museum was less than complimentary really taking a hard line on who Japan thought this was the way to succeed...conquer and kill.

the next quarter of the facility was devoted to the atomic bombs and the destruction...the displays showing and telling the story of how the previous "ethic" brought Japan to the point of destruction...and then the period of penance.

The last section was devoted to all of the peaceful initiatives being taken on by the museum...and the Japanese people in general...and that was special indeed.  With this we were a bit overwhelmed and started out two hour journey back home.

We took a day off and then planned another day trip, this time to the Imperial Palace.  Knowing out way a bit better this time, it only took an hour and a bit to commute to Kyoto.  ONce there it was a short walk from the station to the park.  The grounds of the palace are enclosed in a huge walled rectangular park some 3 miles by 2 miles in size.  Inside the walls are beautiful gardens and many structures, as well as the palace itself.  This was the home of all Japanese rulers, shoguns and emperors, until 1868 when everything moved to Tokyo.

The palace is painted in white and orange, the royal colors, and admission is free.  A self guided map toured us through most of the property...we were not allowed to go into many of the buildings. The architecture was superb and everything was beautifully maintained...some of the buildings dating back to the 1400s.

Following our visit to the palace we walked city streets for an hour before reaching the Ninjo-jo Castle, another fortified series of palaces, shrines, and gardens.

These two sites took up six hours of our day and it was time to head back.  The next few days were spent relaxing and getting chores done.  With a little more than a week to go, we are already planning our Japan exit plan and getting ready for our Australia adventure.

No comments: