Day 5 / 10 February 2016 (Wednesday) : Tokyo to Kyoto
After staying in Tokyo for 3 days, we will travel back down south and stay in Kyoto for one night.
Felt like I started to have colds from the cold weather so I wore a mask (like most locals do ;p) while traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto.
A nice view from our train window while leaving Tokyo.
And the best Shinkansen view ever, the snow capped Mt. Fuji.
Travel Tip: Be sure to choose the seat on the right side when traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto (or Osaka) to be able to catch this amazing view.
We arrived at Kyoto Station after more than 2 and 1/2 hour Shinkansen ride from Tokyo. We decided to leave all our luggage at the coin locker area located outside the station and just bring our backpacks containing our necessities when we stay at the AirBnB house that we book in Kyoto for one night.
Travel Tip: Most of the popular tourist spots in Kyoto are accessible by bus, each ride costs 230 Yen so it is advisable to get a Kyoto City 1-Day Bus Pas which only costs 500 Yen. Can be bought at the office near the bus stop outside Kyoto Station.
Our AirBnB house is located near Ginkakuji so we will have to take Raku Bus 100, here is the bus schedule of Raku Bus 100 departing the bus stop outiside Kyoto Station.
The usual routes of Raku Bus 100, 101 and 102 which pass by all major tourist spots around Kyoto. All these bus are covered by Kyoto City 1-Day Pass.
We finally reached our AirBnB house mid afternoon after getting lost finding our way from the bus stop.
The house have several rooms rented out to tourists. Our room has 1 double-bed and 2 extra mattress over tatami mat.
Since it almost late afternoon, we quickly left our AirBnB house to visit the nearest tourist spot and take advantage the 1-Day Pass which only last until 11:59 of the same day (even if you only start using it at 3pm). So we decided to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is accessible by Raku Bus 100.
Nio-mon, the main entrance of Kiyomizu-dera Temple. It was burnt down during a civil war (1467-1477) and reconstructed in the early 16th century. In 2003, the gate was taken apart and refurbished. This magnificent two-story gate measures approximately 10 meters wide, 5 meters long, and 14 meters high, and displays unique features of the era when it was rebuilt.
Sai-Mon, the present building was reconstructed in 1631. With the spectacular views of the sunset from the site of Sai-mon, it has long been considered a gateway to Paradise and is known as a sacred place for Nissokan, one of the meditation practices for visualizing the Pure Land.
Hondo, The Main Hall in Kiyomizu-dera Temple, which stands on the steep cliff of Mt. Otowa, is a renowned wooden structure reconstructed in 1633. The principal image of Kiyomizu, the statue of the Eleven-headed Thousand-armed Kannon Bodhisattva is enshrined in the innermost section of the Hall. Using a traditional Japanese method of construction, it was built solidly enough to support the stage, which is always bustling with many visitors.
A view of a three storey pagoda from the balcony of the main hall.
A view of Kyoto Tower over the town of Kyoto is very visible from here too.
The Main Hall was built on a steep cliff using a traditional Japanese method of construction. The assembled pillars and rails work like a scaffolding and support the structure so firmly that it is highly earthquake-resistant even on its steep slope. Overhanging the hall is an imposing veranda, called Kiyomizu Stage.
Its stands nearly 13 meters high, almost equal to a four-story building. The stage is supported by 18 pillars made from over 400-year-old zelkova trees, the largest of which is over 12 meters high and two meters in girth. These pillars are combined with a number of rails, which penetrate through each pillar and form joints to strengthen the overall structure without using a single nail.
There is a popular Japanese saying, “to jump off the stage of Kiyomizu.” It means to make a decision and “take a plunge,” as if jumping off the stage overhanging the Main Hall which was built on the high, steep slope. This saying implies that the Kiyomizu Stage has long been recognized as being representative of multistory construction throughout the country. The temple has been popular and so faithfully worshipped by the folks as a holy place of Kannon that the stage continues to be a well-known attraction.
The golden sunset rays playing with the trees in front of the 3-storey pagoda.
Access: From Kyoto Station by Raku Bus 100 (free if using 1-Day Pass) or bus number 206 (15 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple.
Admission: 6:00 to 18:00 (until 18:30 on weekends and holidays from mid April through July and everyday in August and September)
Fees: 400 yen
At the foot of Kiyomizudera is the start of the southern part of the Higashiyama District, it is one of the city’s best preserved historic districts. It is a great place to experience traditional old Kyoto, especially between Kiyomizudera and Yasaka Shrine, where the narrow lanes, wooden buildings and traditional merchant shops invoke a feeling of the old capital city.
The streets in Higashiyama are lined by small shops, cafes and restaurants which have been catering to tourists and pilgrims for centuries.
As early as the middle of the 14th century, many shrines, temples and aristocrats’ villas were built in this area, where a variety of architecture and gardens, artistic and cultural masterpieces such as paintings and crafts were created.
There are many masterpieces of historic architecture still in existence today, which attract many visitors and tourists from every corner of the world.
Yeah, they are not the authentic Geishas but it’s a great photo opportunity right?
We kinda stalk them to get a good shot ;-p
We juts walk some more without knowing where we are goinf, just admiring the beauty of this town.
We reached Shijo Avenue, where there are lots of shops and restaurants to choose from. Also from here you can access Gion, Kyoto’s most famous Geisha district.
We had difficulty finding a place to have dinner so we ended up in a small local restaurant in some small alley along Shijo avenue. I tried their ramen and I’m not sure if this was the real “authentic” Japanese ramen but thet are like 10 times better than the one’s I tried in ramen restaurant in Singapore.
This concluded our Day 5, tomorrow morning we will check more places here in Kyoto before we travel to Osaka in the afternoon.