Day 6 / 11 February 2016 (Thursday) : Kyoto to Osaka
This morning, we will still be checking some more spots in Kyoto before we travel back to Osaka later in the afternoon. We “check out” from our AirBnB house early in the morning so we can have more time to see more of Kyoto. Since our house was just near Ginkakuji Temple (It’s a different temple from Kinkakuji Temple), we decided to check this one first. We walked towards the temple and since it’s only 8am, the temple was still close when we arrived so we decided to leave and board the bus to check one of the famous temple in Japan.
We arrived outside Kinkakuji Temple, luckily it’s still not crowded since it is still early in the morning.
Kinkakuji is perhaps the most well-known temple in Japan. The main pavilion is covered in gold leaf and shimmers in front of a pond – kyoko-chi (Mirror Pond). The temple is situated at the foot of Kinugasa Hill and in the north west of Kyoto, a short walk north from Hirano Shrine and Waratenjin Shrine.
It is perhaps the most widely-recognized image of Kyoto. Seen reflected in the adjoining “mirror pond” with its small islands of rock and pine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, “The Golden Pavilion,” is a breathtaking must-see.
The building’s first purpose was to serve the retiring Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1409) as a residence. The gold-leaf-adorned building was converted into a Zen temple shortly after his death. In an event that was later fictionalized by the renowned author Yukio Mishima, a 21-year-old monk burned Kinkaku-ji Temple down in 1950. The temple was rebuilt in 1955 and continues to function as a storehouse of sacred relics.
The temple’s garden is also a scenic delight and contains in its grounds a charming tea house.
The current building only dates to 1955. The ancient original was burned to the ground in 1950 by a disgruntled priest. The incident was immortalized in the Yukio Mishima novel – The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The wooded grounds are extensive and lovely to walk.
The first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period, and with its natural wood pillars and white plaster walls contrasts yet complements the gilded upper stories of the pavilion. The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in samurai residences, and has its exterior completely covered in gold leaf.
The temple was originally built in 1397 as a villa for court noble Kintsune Saionji and greatly improved by its second owner, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who converted it to his retirement home and spent the latter part of his days there, away from the troubles of the state. His son, Yoshimochi, converted the building into a Zen temple, (then called Rokuonji), according to his father’s will. It was destroyed by fire several times during the Ōnin War.
Walking around the pond in a clockwise direction, visitors exit through the rear gate where there is a small temple dedicated to Fudo Myo-o, a wrathful Buddhist deity. Also of interest in the garden is the Sekkatei Teahouse renovated in 1874 and containing a stone lantern (toro), basin and seat brought from Muromachi Palace, Anmintaku Pond, which legend has never dries up and some small stone statues that visitors throw coins at for luck.
Access: From Kyoto Station by direct Raku Bus 101 or 102 (free using 1-Day Pass) or Kyoto City Bus number 205 (about 40 minutes and for 230 yen).
Admission: 9:00 to 17:00
Fees: 400 yen (Adults), 300 Yen (Child)
Walking away from Kinkakuji Temple, we chance upon Emmachi Station where we are able to take a 9 minute train ride to Kyoto Station via JR Sagano Line (free using JR-Pass).
Next we took the JR Nara Line from Kyoto Station and alighted at the second stop which is JR Inari Station. Just outside the train station is a giant torii gate which serves as the main entrance to Fushimi Inari Shrine.
This shrine, dedicated to the god of rice and sake in the 8th century, also features dozens of statues of foxes. The fox is seen as the messenger of the god of grain foods, Inari, and the stone foxes are often known by the same name. The keys often depicted in the fox mouths are keys to granaries. This shrine is the central location for some 40,000 Inari shrines throughout the entirety of Japan.
A shinto shrine, Fushimi Inari is unique, magical and highly recommended.
Behind the vast central complex, thousands of gaudily colored torii gates snake upwards in crisscrossing paths over heavily wooded, 233 meter high Mt. Inari. Each gate bears the name of its donor – some are ancient and in need of repair, while some are more recent, attesting to the fact that this is a religion very much alive today.
The magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant orange torii gates that wind through the hills behind Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine makes it one of the most popular shrines in Japan. The walk around the upper precincts is a pleasant day hike. It also makes for a delightfully eerie stroll in the late afternoon and early evening, when the various graveyards and miniature shrines along the path take on a mysterious air.
Access: 5min walk from Inari Station, JR Nara line, 10min walk from Fushimi Inari Station, Keihan line
Admission: Always open
We went back to Kyoto Station to have our late lunch and pick up our luggage from the locker area (our rental was way beyond 24 hours so we have to pay another 500 Yen to be able to open the lockers again). From here we will take another 14 minute shinkansen ride to Shin-Osaka Station (free using JR-Pass).
From Shin-Osaka Station where the Shinkanson stops, we took the subway to Namba Station (Nankai Line) to take another train to reach our AirBnB house in Osaka. We saw this Starwars inspired train at Namba (Nankai Line) Station, this train we later found out travels all the way to Kansai Airport.
Our AirBnB house was near Sumiyoshitaisha Station along Nankai Line which means, we will not be able to take advantage of our JR-Pass because Nankai Line is not part of JR Line.
We had the whole unit for the four of us, though quite small at least we have privacy unlike the AirBnB house we rented in Kyoto.
Not wasting our time, we went back to Osaka area to spend our last night in Japan together. My Dubai friend will be flying to Manila the next day to continue his vacation.
Dotonbori, is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destination, the street runs parallel to Dotonbori canal. The area is a popular shopping and food district.
At night, the whole area was well lit with neon lights with the most famous one called Glico Man.
We ended our Day 6 with a group photo in Dotonbori with Glico Man behind. This will also be our last group photo where the hobbits are complete before Dubai friend flies to Manila the next day.