Up early and then met Ayako my young and charming guide. She and I discussed the itinerary and off we headed to the Kinkataku-ji temple. As it was early, around 9.15am, the crowds were light and we skirted the lake viewing the golden pavilion. The gardens are so impressive including a lake filled with water lilies and carp. Yes, straight out of central casting but wonderful non the less. The only down side was the return of the killer heat. I know I’ve covered this before but don’t come to Japan in August. Spring or autumn would be ideal but the hight of summer is plain crazy.
Then took a bus to the Ryoan-ji temple, famous for the dry landscaped garden. I was melting but even so was blown away by the simplicity of the garden. Yes there was lots of hocum about finding the fifteenth rock, sound of one hand clapping, trees falling in the forest etc but the peace and tranquillity were apparent to everyone.
Interlude. Just watched an American family eat sushi which is putting me off. Listen ******** there is a McDonalds on the next block if your intention is to eat like animals. I will enjoy my Yakatori and Sashimi without looking at you.
Back to business. Ayako and I then took a bus to a Kobe beef restaurant. It was good but not mind blowing. We then walked down Nishiki market looking into pickle shops, fish and vegetable stores that were just food pornography. Every piece of fruit was perfect and each wrapped like a new born baby. The care and perfection was staggering. There was a whole range Japanese food that is ready to eat or heat and serve. Dried and marinated fish, sweets of every description and eel ready to take home for tonight’s supper. Some truly delicious and other more of an acquired taste. I bought some partially dried fruit that was wonderful in a hot and crowded market but who knows if it will transition to rainy London.
Then took the train two stops to the Shinto Fushimi Inarri shrine famous for its 10,000 Tori gates. Fantastic and mercenary at the same time. Companies and individuals can buy gates raining from a few hundred thousand Yen to well over a million. People were making wishes by writing prayers on wooden fox heads as foxes are the guardians of good fortune.
Said goodbye to Ayako and gave her the chocolates I’ve been carrying around for over a week. Chocolates in this weather are about as appropriate as gloves or thermal underware. Still she seemed pleased. Back to the hotel to shower. The Hotel Granvia in Kyoto definitely to be recommended, right in the action with all the speed efficiency and style you could ask for. The bed was incredibly comfortable and my room looked onto the Kyoto tower which was great. The laundry service is efficient but hideously expensive. Three day’s clothes £40.
So what of Kyoto. A great city that wears its complete blend of old and new very well.