Sunday, May 6, 2018

Kyoto--Just as Expected

Hiking at the Fushimi Inari Shrine
We've been in Japan--mostly Kyoto--for three full days.  It's exotic and totally unique to us, yet in a strange way it's exactly what we expected.   It's clean, crowded, modern, traditional, confusing, expensive, safe, and fast-paced.  Language is a huge problem, but many of subway and street signs also have English writing

However, the people are helpful,  the transportation infrastructure is amazing, the food is fantastic, and we can drink the water.
Our Hostel.  Our small but very
modern room is on the 2nd floor

Kyoto was the capital of Japan from the 8th century to the mid 1800s, and it remains the cultural capital of Japan with its rich history, shrines, and architecture.   Unlike many other Japanese cities,  it was spared from much of the WWII bombing, so a lot of historic buildings remain in tact.

Lost and can't find a translation
Yesterday, we spent a lot of time lost and on buses, but we managed to visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites:  the Ginkakuji Temple, the Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion/Rokon Ji Temple), and the Nijo-Jo Castle.  All were stunningly beautiful beyond words.  And so were the crowds, as it was a Saturday and the last day of a major Japanese holiday week.  You can see a few more photos when we publish a link in a future blog post.

Today we hiked 4 km to the top of Fushimi Inari-Taisa, through countless orange archways, passing many shrines along the way.  We came across hundreds of stone foxes, considered the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals. It was so beautiful, and it felt good to get away from the concrete jungle of Kyoto.  Good thing we got an early start ahead of the crowds.
Ginkakuki Temple
The Golden Pavilion

We spent a delightful afternoon exploring the Nishiki market, perhaps the best market we have ever experienced in all of our travels.  It was mostly covered, and most of the fish and other delicacies were too, so it didn't smell like most markets do.  Lots of free samples!

The rest of the time we've enjoyed wandering the back alleys and discovering noodle shops frequented by locals.  Tomorrow we're taking a day trip to Inara, home of the original capital of Japan and its castle, the world's largest wooden building.

The forecast is for 1-2" of rain, but hopefully we'll find indoor things to do there.

The Nijo-Jo Castle

At the base of  Fushimi Inari
One of many small shrines
guarded by foxes
Klingon food!
Who knows?

Sparrows, anyone?

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