I’m writing this from a couple days ahead again. I was just so exhausted during this period. On that day we went and saw Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, and Fushimi Inari. Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, is a Zen Buddhist temple. The top two levels are covered in gold foil thus giving it its name. It was a guy’s retirement villa but he wrote it into his will that when he passed it would become a Zen temple and so it did in 1408.

On our way to Kawaramachi Station.DSCN1845Walking to Kinkaku-ji; the kanji for “great” is scarred onto the hillside. During Obon, a festival in August, it’s lit with fire to send off the spirits. DSCN1849

DSCN1851The entrance way to Kinkaku-ji’s grounds.DSCN1855Beware: I was fascinated with the Japanese roofs so there are a couple of juicy roof shots ahead. DSCN1860

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Honestly, I wasn’t as impressed with Kinkaku-ji as I was Arashiyama. They advertise this thing everywhere but it’s rather small and there’s not much to do on the grounds. (To be fair, how large of a structure could you wrap gold foil around back in the day? I’m sure it was impressive then.) You also can’t enter the building at all but there are pictures of what it looks like on the inside on boards around the site. The gardens around it were pretty though. I think if it hadn’t been advertised as much I would have liked it better.

Our first glimpses of the Golden Pavilion, Kinkaku-ji. DSCN1873

DSCN1888The landscaping really was a work of art.DSCN1877

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DSCN1898Off to the left of the viewing area was a mysterious little gate and path…DSCN1899What is back there? Let us peek. DSCN1904

DSCN1906Walking around the building the correct way… No fun.DSCN1909I tracked this crow until he landed on the rooster on top of Kinkaku-ji; a little bird on bird for ya. DSCN1915

DSCN1925Water bugs!DSCN1920Here’s the crow again and the side of the temple. DSCN1916The back of Kinkaku-ji.DSCN1921

DSCN1922 copyI think that’s the end of the mystery path over there.DSCN1928A little brook had worked its way through the hard packed dirt from a small waterfall. DSCN1931

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DSCN1943 copy copyRoofs from the temple complex peeping up over the hill.DSCN1946 copyAnd there’s all the people…DSCN1957Two little boys praying at the shrine.DSCN1961

Next, we went to another nearby Zen Buddhist temple. Ryoan-ji is famous for its rock garden and landscaping. I liked it a little better. The grounds were prettier. I find that anytime I see moss, I’m a fan. I really, really like moss. It makes everything look mystical. The building itself that housed the rock garden was beautiful: dark wooden floors, sloping roofs, and high ceilings. You had to take your shoes off to enter so it was kinda fun (and a relief) to slip around on the floors.

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The rock garden was so bright! The sun reflecting off the white gravel hit me right in the eyes so I retreated back to the shadowy depths. Allen and Alaina sat there though. The rock garden is comprised of 15 rocks, a number representing completion or wholeness. Which is why I kinda love the designer for his cynical humor: you can only ever see 14 rocks at one time from any vantage point.

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DSCN2004 copyThe rooms inside the Zen temple had beautiful artwork on the doors.DSCN2016 copy

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Around the other sides of the building are other Zen gardens where you can sit and meditate. I liked these other sides a bit better because there was less burning and more moss.

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DSCN2027 copyA beautiful little pond at the corner of the building.DSCN2031 copyTraveling back through the grounds to the exit. We took a different path this time.DSCN2041 copy

DSCN2042 copyA small fern just getting its start; this picture’s for my grandmother. Fern <3 forever. DSCN2043 copy

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DSCN2048 copyHere’s the lake we ran into at the start of the Ryoan-ji’s grounds.DSCN2050 copyHere you can better see the tree they’re propping up with poles if any of you were wondering what those were in the background. It seems rare that they chop down trees; they just support them with wood. DSCN2055 copy

Lunch (well breakfast really) was the next affair on our list. We found a soba shop that looked pretty tight. It was really good again. (Future Melita: Really? Who uses the phrase ‘pretty tight’ anymore? What was I thinking?!) I’m not sure what kind of soba noodles I have back in the US but I want to try them again now cause these are tasty. Mine and Allen’s came with these crunchy tempura vegetables. The differences in texture were yum.

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Next continues Allen’s constant quest of chasing after that first shaved ice. We stopped at a dessert shop that sold specific Kinkaku-ji ice cream. Alaina got one. It was matcha green tea flavored with gold glitter on it. For some reason, near all temples are ice cream cone places. I don’t know. I guess religion goes down better when coated in soft serve. Allen, of course, got a shaved ice which apparently while good, was no comparison to the one from yesterday. I got one too (strawberry) and I have to say he’s right.

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Now that we were satiated in both mind and body, it was time to travel again…

From here we continued on to Fushimi Inari but this post is getting pretty long so I’ll break it into two parts. 

INTERMISSION!