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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the lake we ran into at the start of the Ryoan-ji’s grounds.Here 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.
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.
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.
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.