Kyoto, Part 1 – A Stroll Through the Northeast

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be in Kyoto for about 11 days in total, so instead of rushing myself and hitting only the heavily advertised spots, I’m taking my time to divide the city into sections and cover everything from famous temples to streets and gardens only the locals know about.

So, today I ventured to the northeast quarter of Kyoto, an area well known for its viewing spots for autumn leaves as well as long walking trails. After a quick bite to eat in a cafe near my hostel, I took a city bus up to the northeast area for my starting point, Ginkaku-ji (the Silver Pavilion Temple).

Riding the Kyoto City Bus

Riding the Kyoto City Bus

Ginkaku-ji is locatad at the base of the Higashiyama (Eastern Mountains) of Kyoto, and is one of the many World Heritage sights in Kyoto (I think there are 17). It’s no surprise then that it can get quite crowded, especially with schoolchildren on field trips (seriously, I think they’re following me). The temple, or rather temple complex, contains a Zen garden, several ponds and stone bridges, an observation point overlooking both the complex and parts of Kyoto, and of course the Silver Pavilion (which isn’t really colored silver).

Raked sand in the garden

Raked sand in the garden

Ginkaku-ji temple complex

Ginkaku-ji temple complex

 

The Silver Pavilion

The Silver Pavilion

I then exited Ginkaku-ji (after strolling through the well-placed souvenir and tourist-aimed shops) and began walking along the Path of Philosophy (tetsugaku no michi), a tree-covered trail that runs beside a canal. It’s a very pleasant walk, and a nice escape from the glare of the sun.

The Path of Philosophy

The Path of Philosophy

Along the trail, there are several smaller and less famous, though definitely not less exciting, temples and gardens.

A temple along the way

A temple along the way

The Path of Philosophy ends near two very large temple complexes – Eikan-do and Nanzen-ji. Both have enormous entrance gateways, and very nice views of eastern Kyoto.

Autumn colors and a pagoda in the background at Eikan-do

Autumn colors and a pagoda in the background at Eikan-do

Platform at the top of the gateway into Nanzen-ji

Platform at the top of the gateway into Nanzen-ji

I then backtracked a little bit to walk along another pathway/incline, this time heading back central towards the Heian Shrine. Built at the end of the 19th century as a replica of the former Kyoto Imperial Palace, Heian Shrine is a massive complex that is itself dwarfed by a huge torii gate at its entrance.

 

Much larger in real life

Much larger in real life

The shrine has several buildings, all colored vermilion, and I saw several families here with young children who enjoyed running around across the vast grounds of the complex.

Mom and kids in traditional attire posing

Mom and kids in traditional attire posing

The main hall of Heian Shrine

The main hall of Heian Shrine

At this point, my legs were starting to put up some resistance after roughly 5 hours of constant walking, so I headed back to my hostel for a short break. After catching dinner, I headed east again (this time only a 20-minute walk from my hostel) towards Shoren-in, a small temple not many tourists know but that has spectacular nighttime illuminations in autumn. See for yourself:

Illuminated garden of Shoren-in

Illuminated garden of Shoren-in

And the pond as well

And the pond as well

And there you have it. I covered a lot today, but there is still a lot to see in Kyoto, so I will have some busy days ahead! Kyoto is a very pleasant city, and its environment and sheer number of temples (I wouldn’t be surprised if there are several hundred) makes it a world apart from the rest of Japan, and so far edging near the top of my favorite places visited so far on this trip.

Thanks,

Utsav

More pics:

Zen garden in Nanzen-ji

Zen garden in Nanzen-ji

Part of Heian Shrine

Part of Heian Shrine

 

Advertisements

3 responses to “Kyoto, Part 1 – A Stroll Through the Northeast

  1. OMG…spectacular pics, Bittu. Especially loved the last one of the shrine…the vermillion colors are so vibrant…gives the whole place a very holy look. The Path of Philosophy is perfectly named as it looks very meditative in nature! Wish I was there!
    Rest well & recharge for your next adventures!
    Luv always & JSK,
    Mom.

  2. Thank you for one more treat>>reading your blog, pictures are spectacular, I am running out if adjectives now. Rest well, awaiting your next update. Take care. Be safe and healthy.

  3. Oh Boy, I had heard about kyoto, but never thought it is
    so beautiful. The Autumn colors are awsome , simply beautiful.
    I think you won’t find so many temples any where in the world.
    Your description is mind boggling.
    Dear Bittudada, pl take care of your health, bec. you are
    walking a lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s