Posted by: cyradisnyc | November 26, 2008

Gion

Today I roamed around the Gion area of Kyoto. The hostel is very well located, so I started off the day by taking the 15 minute walk up to Kiyomizu Temple. This is a very large temple complex, and I’m kind of shocked that the guidebook I got said there was not much to see. There are about 25 different buildings, including shrines, temples, and pagodas. There are also some random monuments, as well as the Otowa Waterfall, which is reputed to cure any illness. It’s also famous for the viewing of maple leaves, so it was swarmed. It was OK when I first got there, but the complex is so big that by the time I left, it was overrun.

What was nice about the temple though, aside from its beauty, was that people were still practicing there. It must take a great deal of devotion to be able to ignore the billions of sightseers around you to focus in on your prayer, but there were a great many people doing just that. There was also a completely abandoned pagoda, which seems a little strange. I couldn’t figure out which one it was on the guide, but the paint had peeled off entirely. I had lunch in a little restaurant near the temple. It was delicious! What I thought was tofu in the udon turned out to be a very sweet, lightly fried bread.

I followed a different path out of the temple, back down Kiyomizu-zaka. (I had come up a quieter side street.) It was such a zoo! Lots of kitschy tourist stores, along with some that were selling Buddhist prayer beads and small devotional sculptures.

From there I went to Yasaka Shrine. On the way there I passed by Yasaka Pagoda, and wandered around on some side streets. (I found a bottle of a Kyoto microbrew that I will probably try outtomorrow.) This is a larger, open-air shrine that saw a bit more obvious use than Kiyomizu Temple, but that might be because there were so fewer people there. I took some video of how the shrine works, but it is still uploading to Flickr. I’ll edit and add a post to it once it finishes.

Fom Yasaka Shrine, I went to Maruyama Park, which was beautiful. It reminded me a great deal of Central Park, in that there were performers and musicians, and that it underwent a similar landscaping around the same time that Central Park did. Of course, the aesthetics involved were entirely different, but still lovely. I was attempting to walk through the park to Chion-in Temple, but failed. I found two others instead. One, Chorakiji Temple, I didn’t go into. The other, I’m not sure which one it was. I explored a bit, but it turned out that services were actually going on, so I left, as there was a large cemetery attached. It looked like it might be a funeral, and who wants a tourist around then?

After leaving Maruyama Park, I tried to find the Kyoto Craft Centre, and failed. I eventually gave up and just started stopping off in some of the shops. I ate dinner, and returned to the hostel. There, jet lag reared its ugly head and I took what was supposed to be a short nap. Hah. I slept until 11:00, when I got up. It’s now 1:39 am and I still am not tired. Once I finish this, I think I will try and force myself to sleep, as I have big plans for tomorrow–South Kyoto!

Some quick observations–I have never been aware of sticking out physically so much. I am usually the only blond person around, and in some of the places I’ve been, the only tourist/American. I want to use the Japanese I’ve used, but everyone talks to me in English! Perhaps I will be more forward about using the Japanese tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I am going to sleep. Good night!

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Responses

  1. Remember when we went to Quebec and we didn’t say anything so Amie could speak to the people in French? As soon as they heard someone speaking English they switched over and didn’t speak French anymore.


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