Kyoto, Tuesday 1-Nov

Starting the second half of our trip, we went to even more temples. We got more familiar with yatsuhashi. And we saw kids taking field trips. Lots of kids, all around.

It was another laundry day, and once again we opted to do it in the morning and eat breakfast in the meantime. When we put the clothes in the dryer, we knew it would run somewhere between 40 and 60 minutes, and when we checked after 40 minutes, the dryer indicated there were 15 minutes left. We returned after that amount of time, and it showed 10 minutes left. While we debated what to do, the indicator switched to 5 minutes, then shut off after a few more seconds. OK, then.

Clean clothes put away, we set out, once again from Kyoto Station to begin our last Kyoto walking tour.

Ginkakuji Temple

Just like the name Kinkaku-ji, derived from Kinkaku (the Golden Pavilion), is the common name for Rokuon-ji, Jisho-ji is commonly known as Ginkaku-ji, after Ginkaku (the Silver Pavilion). It's not actually silver, and is undergoing renovations. The work being done was on the upstairs of the pavilion, and we could see people doing things up there since there was nothing covering the pavilion.

When you first walk into the temple, you see Ginkaku, but you also see a huge sand garden. In the garden, a big mound  of sand is Kogetsudai, a representation of Mt. Fuji. Alternating rows is Ginsyadan, representing waves.

We followed the route through the grounds which takes you up a bit on the side of the hill for a view of the grounds and the city beyond, then we rounded the Silver Pavilion one more time before we exited.

Arriving between two large group of kids on a field trip, we strolled the temple at our own pace, paused a bit for the group behind us to move past us, and then continued. At almost every temple or shrine we've visited, there have been several field trips. We've seen all sorts of uniforms, many which look like what we would think of as prep school clothing, some which are essentially navy-colored sailor suits.

Philosopher's Walk

We backtracked a bit to the Lake Biwa Canal to the beginning of the Philosopher's Walk, named after Kitaro Nishida, a Kyoto University philosopher who walked daily along the canal. It's cherry-lined, and there's a stone path just off the street (it's mostly two paths next to each other, but in some sections, it narrows to one).

There were a few other people doing the walk, and it was nice to see it being used. There were several stores and cafés mostly near the bridges, but several of them seemed to cater not just to tourists. Along the way, we saw a man busking with a lute, and a bit further we saw a man in slacks, white shirt, bow tie, and suspenders cleaning leaves with a leaf vacuum, putting the nozzle near individual leaves. It wasn't unusual to see leaves being cleaned like this; there have been very few leaves on the sidewalks, even though they're starting to fall off the trees. I've even seen a leaf blower used on a gravel path.

At the end of the walk was Eikando Temple. We looked around a bit but didn't actually go in. While Melody was reading up on the temple, I walked a bit towards the main gate and passed a woman who was trying to coach her boyfriend in taking her picture, making sure there weren't too many people right around her, but people in the photo further away were fine. I took my pictures, joined Melody, then after a few minutes, we both walked towards the main gate. Yes, the woman was still coaching, this time indicating that he should frame her from the waist up. They were done by the time we walked back to the street.

Continuing our walk

After a quick udon break (we were at a Japanese-style table this time), we doubled back a bit to Nanzenji Temple, strolling around the grounds. As we approached the gate, we saw people on the second floor looking out. We saw it was ¥500 per person, and figuring we'd just seen a pretty good view at Ginkakuji and better ones on previous days, we went on towards the main temple, hearing chanting from a nearby hall (Nanzenji is one of Kyoto's best-known Zen temples).

We had seen a dessert shop near where we had lunch, so when we proceeded on our walk (I guess it would be tripling back) we walked in. We had cream puffs which were, compared to what we'd seen elsewhere, a reasonable ¥200. We ordered a couple and had a seat. When we bit into them, we had a nice surprise that there was a piece of yatsuhashi in them (more on yatsuhashi below). It was a refreshing break, and we were ready to proceed.

Our walk led us along the Lake Biwa Aqueduct and through a huge torii towards the Heian Shrine, where we once again saw a large group of kids. This time it was primary school children, divided into large groups wearing different-colored caps.

Finishing the day

The last stop on the walk was the Kyoto Handicraft Center, which is a pretty good place to look for souvenirs. I didn't buy gifts, but I did get a small package of yatsuhashi to snack on.

My cousin had alerted me to the yatsuhashi, and I had seen it around from the first day we were here. It's similar to a won ton-shaped mochi, but instead of pounded rice, it's made out of rice flour with sugar and cinnamon added. It's then rolled into sheets, cut into squares, then folded over with a filling (usually a kind of an, but we've seen it with chestnut or even chocolate) and then packaged. Or, you can bake it and make a senbei; we've seen that a lot too. It's different, and I do enjoy it.

We picked up some take-out dinner and started eating in the kitchen area of the hostel. One woman was explaining to the other that she's from Seattle (actually Lynnwood). Small world, like that time we were in Budapest and the other couple staying in the home we were at were from Redmond.

One more full day in Kyoto, so it was time to catch some sleep.