The next day in Kyoto we were greeted by more rain. We also learned that another typhoon, Francisco, was bearing down on Japan and likely to make landfall later in the week when we were going to be back in Tokyo. Generally, the weather has cooperated, and when it is nice it is really nice, but news of another typhoon (a super typhoon at that) was a bit of bummer.
Blue marker 0 is number 10 in the list.
- Kyoto Station
- Siam (from last night)
- Maruyama Park
- Nijo Castle
- Start of Nishiki market
- Ganko Sanjo Honten
We hopped on the bus in the morning and took it to Kyoto station. Not eager to go out in the rain, we putzed around the iSetan department store for a while (the food floors of course) and saw what there was to see. We bought some dried fruit and other assorted snacks for the day, passing on the $520 boxed dinner set, and hoped back on a bus toward the northwest corner of the city.
Our destination was the famous gilded temple of Kinkaku-ji. The second and third story of which (each story in constructed in a different architectural style from a different period of history) are covered in gold foil. The effect was cool, but the place was not.
On every I trip I have at least one time where I’m a total grump truck. This morning was that time. Most of the temples we had gone to allowed you to roam the grounds freely; you could bounce around from structure to structure at your pace and take in the sites however you pleased. Not here. From the moment you arrived you were ushered through a set “route” and hurried a long at every opportunity. Stand here, take a picture, move here, take a picture, move here take a picture…etc. The rain didn’t help my spirits either. The crowd had occluded a nice little puddle of water from my view as we were paying our ¥500 entry fee….so I had a wet foot in wet socks in a wet shoe. Also, being 6′ (which is normally great in Japan) became a liability as my eyes were at the exact height of every little lady’s umbrella spokes.
We continued down the “route” like we were standing in line for a ride at Disney World, except there was no real attraction. Look, the temple was okay, but everything about the presentation of it was geared towards monetizing tourists; the entry fee, the ol’ throw a coin in the pot and make a wish (¥50 coins are the luckiest!!!), the “cafe”, and then the row of cheesy knick knack shops at the end. Gross.
Also, they had an explicit “no tripod” rule which was even stranger…it’s like they are saying “you can take a quick picture, but then please GTFO.”
Okay, happy face on.
We jumped on another bus and headed over to Nijo Castle in the center of the city. The castle incorporated two palaces, several gardens, and an inner keep. We toured through one the palaces (rules here inculded No Sketching), walked through the garden, and climbed to the top of the remnants of the north eastern turret for decent views of the city.
Back on the bus we headed for Shijo station and the downtown area. We farted around a bit, notionally looking for a cafe to kill some time in (and mostly rest our feet). As we walked around the back streets of downtown Kyoto, we stumbled across The Nishiki-kōji street market. One thing that has been nice about this trip is that things that are called markets are actually markets and not tourist trap trinket black holes. This market was several blocks long (and wide) and was covered from above which was welcome. We purchased two of these fried mashed “patato” with pork things and gobbled them up because we suddenly realized we were famished.
We had some good sushi/sashimi on the trip so far, but we really hadn’t eaten it for a meal yet. We set out to change that by looking for a place a called Ganko Sanjo Honten. We put the Japanese address into our data-only phone and walked for about 15 minutes to the place….except it wasn’t the place…instead it was an alley in between two apartments. We looked up the address again on a different site and sure enough this one told us to go 15 minutes back the way we came. We had been standing pretty much right on top of the place to begin with. Ugh.
The effort was worth it because the sushi was pretty good. There was egg sushi, salmon, grilled unagi (eel), white fish (halibut?), boiled shrimp, fatty tuna, and lean tuna all served with a bowl of udon noodles. Also….them beers you guys.
Bus, hotel, Japanese TV, bed.
Edited 3/18/2017 for spelling, “grammar”, image rendering, and Google Maps API v2.