September 30, 2015

Kyoto Day 2 - The Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji And Fushimi Inari Shrine

Kinkakuji aka The Golden Pavilion has to be one of the most iconic temples in Kyoto, so naturally this was a must see on our itinerary. After lunch and an early afternoon wandering around Nishiki market we didn't have all that much time before the temple closed at 5pm and the bus journey there was going to take a while. 

The most direct way to reach The Golden Pavilion is to hop on bus no.101 or 205 from Kyoto Station and it should take approximately 40 mins. Given that we were likely to wait around for the bus, allow at least 1 hour for travel time. Make sure you have the right amount at ¥230 per person as no change is given once you board the bus and they also don't accept rail cards.

From Nishiki market, it was 1 stop on the subway to Kyoto station. Here, we bought the ICOCA card from the customer information office. It works in the same way as the SUICA card we bought Tokyo, but as that only covers Tokyo, we needed to pick up the ICOCA card which covers Kyoto as well as Osaka. However, neither is required if you are travelling with the JR pass. We had decided against the JR pass since it has restrictions on the express trains such as the Nozomi Shinkansen and we were not going to get enough use out of it. 

The main return on investment with the JR pass is made when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka on the bullet train and making a return journey back into Tokyo too, which would then make it worthwhile to purchase the JR pass. Our route flew us into Tokyo, but we were going to be flying back home from Osaka. 

Travel information aside, the bus from Kyoto to Kinkakuji got us there in good time and we have around 1 hour before the temple closed for the day.

We're given tickets printed old school style, and we love the hint of old time Japan on this. 

Across the lake, The Golden Pavilion sits majestically in the centre and the gold is quite dazzling under the sun. The top 2 floors are covered entirely in gold leaf and where the gold is so bright, it almost looks a little fake and garish. In photos, the temple looked stunning, but in real life, it was a little disappointing as it was too new looking for an old building. We were glad to have seen it with our own eyes though and couldn't imagine missing out on this sightseeing spot.

This cute couple were nice enough to let me take a snap of them in their beautiful rented kimonos. I was so envious, so this is definitely something I have to do if I'm lucky enough to go back to Kyoto. 

With Kinkakuji done, we take a quick browse around the local shops just outside and then it's back on the bus to Kyoto station and onto our next sight, Fushimi Inari shrine. It's 2 stops away on the subway to the shrine. I love that everything is so close to each other in Kyoto, so there is more time to cram a few more sights in. 

Stocking up on some Japanese goodies before we go in for a mini hike.
 
The vivid re-orange colour and statues of these foxes (Inari's messengers) is what the Fushimi Inari shrine is characterised by.

From this point onwards, its an upward hike all the way up to the top of the mountain. We were glad we had waited until sundown, otherwise it would have been so hot. The torii gates are impressive and we couldn't believe that they went all the way up the mountain, there were so many of them!
 
It was sweaty work with all the walking, but made more fun by meeting other tourists and chatting away as we walked up. The walk gets quite eerie at this time of the night when no one is around, so we definitely welcomed the company. Once we reached the top of the mountain, the view over Kyoto was stunning and worth the hike.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine was really quite beautiful, but if you decide to do this hike, make sure you have the right walking shoes, refreshments, and lots of insect repellent.

We headed back to the area our hotel was in, in search for a late dinner. After some pondering, I decided on this cute little restaurant with partitions and it turned out to be the worst meal we encountered in the 2 weeks we were in Japan. 

We were so dismayed at the food, but when you travel for 2 weeks and only have 1 bad meal, I guess it's not so bad...

Nevermind about dinner, we'd enjoyed a really great second day in Kyoto, and tomorrow we had more fun lined up.


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Maira Gall