A good nights sleep, but I still couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. It was our last full day in Kyoto. Staying in bed wasn’t going to slow the day down. We left the room just after 8:30 and quickly checked the internet: emails etc. Our first port of call was a temple just around the corner from our hotel. But Bukko-ji temple was closed, like everything else it seemed…to be fair, it wasn’t even 9 o’clock yet.
We grabbed some breakfast then headed to Pontochō one of Kyoto’s historic geisha districts. The street itself was very quiet (I think this is the best time to appreciate the beauty of the street) and you could see the history just oozing out of the buildings.
At the top of Pontochō opposite a clearing with a view of the river, we came across a homeless man (one of many in Japan) sat with two black and white cats, who didn’t seem to mind being stroked so early in the morning.
We headed back to Gion and did a bit of shopping. Our next stop was Maruyama Park to visit the Chion-in Temple. We walked through the grounds of the Yasaka Shrine and came upon Maruyama Park. The grounds of Maruyama were beautiful. Traditional Japanese landscaping and a pond full of leaping koi carp. Rob bought us a couple of ice creams so we took time out to watch the locals admiring the park (in the rain). We searched the park in the search of the temple, but it seemed we were walking in the wrong direction.
We discovered a small gateway to a house in a wooded area in the park. A man was bustling around in the garden beyond the gate. We asked him for directions (well Rob did, it was about time he clocked up some asking directions time) and after giving us an animated display of directions…in Japanese of course, we somehow found what we were looking for.
While walking to the temple, we came across a small sheltered seating area, as we approached it two small cats appeared, we think they were hungry, but we had no food. All we had to offer was our attention for 5 minutes.
Now what happened next was completely Rob’s fault. He wanted to visit the Ryozan Museum of History, so we took the steep incline up to where the museum was, only to find that it was closed. Cheers Rob. Note to self, check when museums are actually open next time!
Luckily for us, the Ryozan Kwannon (which was built as a memorial to the two million fallen Japanese soldiers of World War II) was nearby, as well as some small craft type shops where I purchased my first Japanese fan. At the entrance to the Ryozan Kwannon, you are given an incense stick to place in front of the Buddha. You can sit inside the Buddha statue, which houses several smaller shrines. It’s a place of relaxation and reflection, more so for practising Japanese Buddhists.
We headed to the train station as we had buy our Bullet Train tickets. This was followed by another round of shopping- including some sake tasting, then back to the hotel for an early night. Tokyo tomorrow!