Japan Trip Day 2 - 2010-07-05

Photos from this day.

On Monday, we woke up around 9:00, got ready, and headed down for breakfast. The hotel offered an american-style breakfast, so we figured we might as well give that a shot. It was a bit pricy, but wasn't bad. Their odd version of an omelette was pretty odd: it looked like it was probably made up of a single egg, and was wedge-shaped with a brown sauce on it. Quite unusual! Fortunately, there were a few other parts to the meal, like mini-bacon, some sort of lunchmeat, corn/potato salad, green salad, and bread, that finished up the meal. I wasn't stuffed at the end of it, but it was enough.

We had no idea what we were going to do today, other than check out some kind of temples. We spoke with the front desk and they pointed out a few that we may want to try first, so we started to make our way towards them. Initially we were planning on walking to a bus line that took you to the temple, but we were enjoying our walk so we just ended up walking the whole way.

We walked down lots of little side streets that had all sorts of cool little shops. Kellian kept popping in to look at the things that they were selling and wes pretty close to buying a hat, but it didn't fit quite right. Oh well! In our wandering, we stumbled across Nishiki Market which was pretty amazing. It was really long and narrow, and it was lined by lots of little shops. Most of the shops sold food, though some were restaurants and others sold various other things.

We spent quite a while walking through the market and looking at all the stuff that was being sold. The market was covered, and it was really nice getting out of the sun for a little bit. It was about 90 degrees and humid, which made it pretty uncomfortable when we weren't in the shade.

Eventually we came to the end of the market and were starting to get a bit hungry, so we started to look for a place to eat. We couldn't decide where to go, so we just followed a group of Japanese ladies into a building, which we hoped was a restaurant. The funny thing about not knowing how to read any Japanese, is that you sometimes can't even tell what a particular building contains.

Fortunately, it was a restaurant and it ended up being pretty good. We sat on tatami mats and had some soup with noodles. Mine had fish cakes which were kind of gross. They were chewy, which I don't really like. Oh well! The broth and noodles were good. Kellian had some kind of fried tofu in hers, which was good.

After finishing our meal, we crossed over the Kamo River. After walking down Sanjo street, another road with lots of shops, we ended up at the area that contains the Yakasa Shrine. At first it was a bit un-spectacular: there were a lot of little shrines and a few shops. The large shrine, which was presumably the Yakasa Shrine, wasn't completely open, you had to peek in through wooden bars on the door which was a bit annoying.

We walked up a bit further and found some nice paths, which were part of Maruyama Park. This was a nice looking park that has lots of trees and a nice little stream coming through it. Kellian and I were pretty hot, so we found a secluded spot and stuck our feet in the stream, which was nice. Probably not allowed, but nobody noticed.

After that, we headed over to the Chion-In Temple which was just a little ways north. This was much more interesting. There was a huge gate at the beginning of this area, followed by a steep hill with a bunch of stairs. Once we got to the top, we saw the gigantic temple.

This temple was actually open to visitors, so we went in and listened to the monks chanting for a while. There were two monks chanting, and a fellow in normal clothes in front of them. After a while, he got up and left, after thanking the monks, and a woman came in. It seemed like they were paying the monks to have them say some prayers for them. Pretty interesting!

There were a few other temples around this area. We found one that was empty and sat in there for a bit. The inside was made of dark wood, with gilded statues and laquored furniture. It had quite an impressive appearance, but we couldn't take photos.

There were also a number of shrines, which always had a little fountain of water where you were supposed to purify yourself before entering the shrine. This consisted of pouring some water on your hands, and putting some in your mouth and spitting it out. Since it was a hot day, we took every chance we had to pour cold water on our hands. We put it in our mouth and spit it out once but it didn't look quite right so we didn't do that again.

Next, we made our way over to the Nanzenji Temple. It looked like it was pretty close on the map, but it ended up being a bit of a hike. We cut through some back streets and discovered an interesting looking building.

It was pretty unusual: you walked in and entered a maze of paths with small buildings and gardens. Very cool! A woman in a kimono was a bit confused as to why we were wandering around there, so we made our way out. Another woman at the entrance informed us that it was a restaurant. It was super-expensive though...I think something like $200 each.

We continued walking and eventually found the Nanzenji Temple. This area started off with a large gate. You could pay $5 each to walk inside the gate and up to the top to see a good view of Kyoto. I thought that might be fun, so we decided to give it a try. It wasn't quite as high as I had hoped, so the view wasn't all that great. The view of the surrounding temple area was quite nice though. It has lots of trees and was beside a mountain. We sat up at the top for a while and rested our legs.

We wandered around this temple area for a while. There was a network of little streams throughout the area, filling the area with the sound of water flowing. The temple itself was closed, you could only peek in through the wooden bars on the door.

We were exhausted, so we headed back to our hotel for a nap. After that, we went down to Pontocho road, which is a very narrow street with a ton of restaurants. It was pretty much impossible to figure out which one would be good, so we just went into one. They had outdoor seating along the river, but you needed to order a $50/person fixed menu, which we didn't really want to do. Indoors, it was quite warm, so we decided to leave and try another place.

The next place we tried also had the fixed menu to sit outside, so we figured that everywhere did that and gave up on eating outside and ended up staying at this place. The prices weren't bad, but the portions were really tiny. We decided that instead of sinking more money on another tiny portion, we'd just grab some snacks if we got hungry.

We found a few shops that sold some Japanese sweets, and ate those. We had some mochi balls, which were pretty tasty. They're kind of sweet and chewy. We also had some otcher rice ball type things that were in a weird looking syrupy goop. We sat by the Kama river and ate our snacks.

It was a long day, so we headed back to our hotel exhausted and planned out what we were going to do next.


JP said...

Sounds like you had a full day of walking, touring around and tasting some of the local cusine! For some reason Flickr won't let me view Day 2 of your photos, Day 1 came though okay. xoxox jp

spletcher said...


Wow, quite a first two days. Thanks for the detail and all the photos!
How are you getting your blogs and pix posted? Did you find an internet cafe?
When does the IPP get started?
Have fun.