Before I talk about those two confusing name temples, I want to talk about one of the most special and unique foods in Kyoto.
After my sister and I finished touring Kiyomizu-dera, we headed to Gion to look for lunch place. Then, we found a restaurant with people queuing outside of the restaurant. We thought it would be a good place since there were some locals taking out their foods from the restaurant. The name of the restaurant is Izuju and this place is famous for mackerel sushi(Saba sushi), one of the special dishes in Kyoto. Izuju is one of the oldest sushi places in Kyoto. After half an hour waiting, we finally got inside of the restaurant.
You know, when you think of mackerel, it’s kind of a fish that has likes and dislikes especially in Western countries. It smells stronger than many fishes.We were thinking it’s quite adventurous to try it at first so we ordered mixture boxed sushi(hako sushi), Inari sushi(Fried tofu sushi) and Saba sushi.
Saba sushi has a think layer of mackerel on top rolled with kelp to keep it fresh. When it comes to eating mackerel, I always grilled or steamed mackerel and it’s really the first time to try raw mackerel. When I tried it, I regretted that I should have ordered more of it. Mackerel sushi has a rich and unique flavor that I’ve never experienced before. The think texture accentuated this unique flavor.
We walked along Gion street for a while and then we took a bus to go Ginkakuji-temple.
The path on the way to the temple is called “Philosopher’s path”.
Since it’s January, only barren trees welcomed visitors. It was one of the moments that we thought it would be really beautiful when cherry blossoms bloom in spring.
I found this photo from Japan Guide website. Isn’t this beautiful!
The route is so-named because the influential 20th-century Japanese philosopher and Kyoto University professor Nishida Kitaro is thought to have used it for daily meditation. It was more quite than Sannen-zaka and Ninnen-zaka with less souvenir stores. Although it became a bit more touristy than the time when prof. Kitaro enjoying taking walk along this way, I would love to take a walk at least several times a week around here.
After half an hour walk along this path, we got to Ginkakuji-temple
Entering the temple, the quintessential Japanese Garden was waiting for visitors. I thought it was more like Buddhist temple but I felt it would be a good place to meditate walking through this garden. In fact, Ginkakuji-temple(“Temple of the Silver Pavilion”) is more Zen temple. Ginkaku-ji was originally built to serve as a place of rest and solitude for the Shogun. During his reign as Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa inspired a new outpouring of traditional culture, which came to be known as Higashiyama Bunka (the Culture of the Eastern Mountain). Having retired to the villa, it is said Yoshimasa sat in the pavilion, contemplating the calm and beauty of the gardens.
Even these simple strokes depicting a mountain is quintessentially Eastern.
Behind the garden, there is a small hill. On the way to the top of the hill, you can see this cute waterfall in a pond. Japanese garden often describes the miniature of nature and it’s the perfect example.
There were a lot of tall bamboo tress as well. My sister and I were thinking “well, maybe we can skip Arashi-yama” after watching this.
It’s the view from the top of the hill. As you can see, Kyoto is surrounded with layers of mountain and it’s hard to spot tall buildings. As Kyoto is symbol of traditional city in Japan, Japanese people don’t build skyscrapers in this city.
Actually, these trees are relatively short ones. Using different angles, it looks like bushy forest with full of moss. Moss is usually overlooked grass for most of the people, but I think Japanese people know how to appreciate the small beauty of moss that they smartly used moss to decorate as a background.
After looking around, we checked the time. It was around 3:45. Most of famous spots closes around 5 and we wanted to see one more in Kyoto. We heard Kinkaju doesn’t take a long time to look around and it’s not very far from where we were so our next destination was Kinkaku- ji.
I know it sounds really similar with Ginkaku-ji but it means different. Ginkaku-ji means “Temple of the Silver Pavilion” and Kinkaku-ji is “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”. When I was in high school, one of my classmates told me “Kinkaku-ki” is kind of so-so and not many things to look around. As some Japanese novelists appreciate the beauty of Kinkaku-ji, I was curious and wanted to see it in person. Unlike Ginkaku-ji, the way to the temple wasn’t really long at all. The photos of Kinkaku-ji often have more reputation as Japanese architects than other temples so it was quite crowded with people from many parts of the world.
Yup, this is it! When we got there, the weather became cloudy but you can see the golden temple is quite shiny. Like Ginkaku-ji, Kinkaku-ji was also the retirement villa of the shogun in 1397. It’s different shoguns, by the way. But Ashikaga family must have loved retirement villa with trees. Plus, it’s interesting to see personal taste of the villa.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
Unlike many destinations in Kyoto, the shrine is located the south of Kyoto central station. We headed back to Kyoto station from Kinkaku-ji and the bus was completely packed. It was lucky for us to get seats in the bus for 30 minutes. It is very similar what I saw in Seoul during rush hour.
Anyway, in order to go to the shrine, you should take the Nara line toward Joyo and took off at Fushimi Inari station. It only takes two stations.
From our plan, we left this place as the last destinations in Kyoto as it opens 24 hour. But it wasn’t crowded as it’s very dark outside.
<Small temple near the entrance of the shrine>
When you get there, you will see many fox statues. In Japanese indigenous religion, fox is a messenger.
<The shrine at night>
Plus, it was really scary for me that my phone suddenly turned off because of the low battery and my sister’s phone was running out of battery as well so we didn’t spend here for a long time. This red structure(torii) continues to the top of the mountain and it takes two hours to the mountain according to the information from the shrine. Family name and the time they built torii are carved for each torii.
There only a few people on the way in the dark and this place gave atmosphere as if there are many spirits wandering around.It was a little scary reminding of haunting Japanese movie but it was also a good chance to enjoy this place without surrounding with other tourists. I imagined it would be perfect when we visit here during sunset. After walking a little bit, we went down to go back to Kyoto station.
It’s dinner time and we were hungry after walking whole day. It’s time to say good bye to Kyoto. Kyoto for day trip was short but we are happy that we managed to see almost all the tourist attraction that we wanted to go. Besides going to the sightseeing place, Kyoto is a place where walking random streets are another joy.