Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kyoto (Day 4)

Day 4 is a reflection of how brave Adrienne and I have become in the last 9 months! First of all, I never expected to be in Japan...but now that I am it's been great to see as much as we can! We hadn't planned our Osaka trip in great detail (I know, what has happened to me?!) and everyone told us Kyoto was worth seeing. Our hotel had the subway route mapped out to Kyoto so we figured why not, how hard can it be after that? Well, apparently Kyoto is MUCH bigger than we expected and everything is harder when you don't speak or read Japanese! I'm examining our "walking" map the hotel gave us and finally figure out there appears to be a subway station somewhat close to the Golden Pavilion that perhaps might get us to our destination??? So we find a worker and point to our destination and the station and they nod and point and look through a book and point out which subway line we want and send us on our way - after asking a few more people we get to the right train and know that we're going to the bus station and to buy a bus ticket there, we buy our tickets and get on the train. I'm pretty sure this was our finest moment thus far in Japan.

At the Kyoto station! So proud!
Next we got on the city have no idea what to pay or when we pay...but here we are on the bus. I start watching all the people and looking around - I finally see a sign that says 220 so I assume that's the price of our ticket and we figure out that you pay when you get off, the on and off is 2 different doors so it all works out.
We arrive at the bus stop and take a short walk to the Golden Pavilion. It was absolutely gorgeous! The grounds are beautifully landscaped, the Pavilion amazing - the whole thing was worth the Independence trip!! The bottom floor isn't gold and built in the palace style while the other 2 floors are built in the samurai style and Zen style with gold leaf lacquer.

My Japanmate flinging her arms around (skipping style) Makes me laugh every time!
Afterwards we sat down for a bit with some soft serve (cherry blossom soft serve is better than cherry blossom ice cream) I convinced Adrienne we couldn't come all this way and not keep going - our feet were TIRED today! So the next stop was the Ryoanji Temple. Now the map made it look pretty close and when we asked for directions the man said it was a 20 minute walk....hmmmm...ok....sigh. Our walk wasn't to bad but going downhill made me think of going back uphill afterwards :)

Walking behind Adrienne (again!)
In front of the main part of the temple

And of course when we get inside we need to take off our shoes! It felt great to walk around for awhile with the cool wood and no shoes :)
I didn't know that these paintings are made on paper and the paint is made of ground up colored rock and glue - YIKES - talk about a 2nd grade craft on steroids!
Inside the temple was the zen rock garden - it was a little weird to see everyone just sitting and staring at them, the tourists stuck out like a sore thumb with the cameras!

When we left I thought it was kind of ironic to see a traditional Japanese lady in her Kimono and the car parked our back.

After that we walked back up the hill to the bus stop - a short stop at a couple of shops for a cute new bag (to be used as a lunch box) and a beautiful hair tie. We got back on the bus, back to the station and we were heading back towards Kyoto Station but stopping shortly before that to change trains to go to Nijo castle which I think was my favorite stop - inside the castle was amazing, but no pictures allowed - sorry you'll have to go see it yourself! It was the capital in between Tokyo and Osaka (I think I got that right). It's amazing to me how well preserved it looks considering it's over 400 years old!

Once you go inside you take of your shoes of course and walk through each part with the floor squeaking below your feet. There was a neat diagram that showed how they built the floors so they would squeak and no one could sneak up on the shogun. There were lots of paintings done in the colored rock and also gold leaf. The carvings were also very beautiful.

After touring the inside we walked around the gardens - yea for cherry blossom season!

Not only do I have a lot of pictures of Adrienne period...I have a lot of her with her arms flung out doing something :)

All in all - a very successful trip and I'm extremely proud of us for finding our way around without a single mishap! On Wednesday we headed back to Okinawa - surprisingly glad to be back "home" for now! Great trip and now Adrienne's mom is visiting so we're trying to show her as much of the island as we can before school starts again...about 7 more weeks of school left! Love and miss you all - see you soon!


Aimee said...

Yea!! I am so proud of you two! I can only imagine how difficult it must be to find your way around! I know that it isn't easy to find my way around eastern Europe at all! I love the pics!!

Jo said...

That is SO exciting! Such a great adventure you've been on this last year! Thanks for making my life seem REALLY boring ;-) hehe

Cheryl said...

I'm so proud of your Kyoto day! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous! The cherry blossoms make them even more spectacular!