Friday, March 23, 2007

Kyoto Day 3 (part 1)

Like the second day, the third day presented us with many pictures, so I divided them again. On our third day in Kyoto, we got up early enough to eat breakfast. This also meant we were in store for a very full day. We strategically put our bags in lockers at the subway station closest to our hotel. The hotel was situated conveniently at a juncture of the two main subway lines. Also convenient was the locker that was big enough for Joe and I to share.

We had completely ignored the temples in the northwest area of Kyoto and decided that some exploring was in order. Our goal was to start at the most southerly temple and make our way north up the mountainside. This process worked fine. By far the most impressive temple we saw was the golden temple (one of the most northerly). Not only was this beautiful, but it was the first place that offered seemingly unique items to buy. As Joe and lamented throughout the day, it is very difficult to buy gifts for people. Friends expect things that are classically Japanese, but to get something similar to that which can be purchased at epcot is a waste of locale. This golden temple offered some solutions, and we were thrilled.

Also really neat were the rock gardens. There were two temples with substantial gardens of this type, one being known specifically for this reason. I didn’t find the gardens to be particularly awesome or awe inspiring, but I did find them very peaceful to look at. Adding the ridges in the sand offered a wavelike motion that was appealing.

After the golden temple, Joe and I wanted to get to one more before we headed back to Tokyo. Looking at our map, which was pretty sketchy, we headed in what we thought was the direction of our sought after temple. However, it turns out we were very very very wrong. After walking (at a rate that was almost a jog) for about 35 minutes we got to the top of the road, which ended at a very worn down area of town with no people and two chained barking dogs. When the movies portray an area as inhospitable, this is their primary shooting location. We turned around and headed toward a recreational and social club where we saw taxis. Turns out that the taxis were waiting to take patrons elsewhere and wouldn’t drive us to the train station. However, the drivers did direct us toward a major street that was clearly marked on the map. A little over a half of an hour later we found the street. That street then led us to two more streets and eventually we found the temple we were looking for. At this point we were tired and our legs hurt and we wanted to get back to Tokyo. After our arduous climb and descent of the mountain we thought it necessary to at least peak at the temple we were looking for. The temple was closing as we walked in the gate. Joe and I looked at each other and without a word decided we didn’t have the energy or desire to fight to get in. We walked hurriedly to the nearest train station, which took us to our junction subway station, which took us to the main Kyoto train station. We knew there was a train leaving relatively soon, but upon arriving at the ticket counter, were informed that immediately was less than 2 minutes. So we ran, with our gifts and our backpacks through the train station, from track 1 all the way to track 24 (or thereabout), which was passed a second ticket taker and up the stairs. We then ran from one end of the 14 car train to the last car running with the train as it was arriving. Literally beyond exhausted we sat down and about an hour later were able to move and talk.

We regained our composure later in the train ride, and Joe wanted some Thai food for his last dinner in Japan. We went to the Thai restaurant near my apartment and had a delicious and relaxing dinner.


Ashley said...

haha! what an adventure to catch your train! my friends and i did something similar while i was in venice and we were trying to catch the last train that was leaving in 30 min and we were easily a 45 min brisk walk away. i ran the whole way with a backpack and flip flops on!!
i really like the sand/zen garden, i've always wanted to see a life size one!

Angela said...

you look so sleepy :)

Angela said...

I'm watching Alias right now, and Sloan is torturing a girl in Kyoto! We looked out for you in the background :)