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Friday, June 16, 2017

#carmenxjapan Day 8: Temple Run in Kyoto

There's still a lot to discover in the historical city of Kyoto, can't get enough of the ancient vibes. It's Day 2 of carrying my backpack and tripod to explore some of the city's iconic religious sites and its charming streets.

Woke up early in the morning, full of excitement, board the bus to my first destination, only to realize I left my camera battery and remote control after 20 minutes into the journey LOL #bigheadprawn Part of me was thinking maybe I should just give up taking photos but I went all the way back to my hostel to retrieve it anyway. And no regrets coz what's waiting for me was worth it. 

Tenryuji 天龍寺
Located at the western region of Kyoto, Tenryuji is a Zen temple against the beautiful Arashiyama mountain. The temple buildings of Tenryuji are surrounded by a picturesque garden with a mirror-like pond. I guess Zen is all about the nature, the lush green trees, the calm waters. To explore the temple, you could choose to tour the temple buildings (300yen) and/or the garden (500yen). I kinda expected that the temple buildings will be empty just like Ginkakuji and so I chose to visit the gardens only. In fact, the gardens have preserved its original state while the temple buildings are relatively recent restorations due to destruction brought by fire and war. 

The Zen Picture

spacious temple halls

In Kyoto, you will see students on school trips at almost every temples. According to my Japanese friend, school trips are part of their class syllabus and hence mandatory. Besides learning about the history of these heritage sites, they are also required to speak English to tourists. Malaysian schools, hope this is a good reference. 

The bamboo forest that backs the temple grounds. 

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest 嵐山
Exiting Tenryuji at its North Gate entrance will lead to the bamboo groves pathway. I have seen bamboo trees in shrubs but never a forest of them and certainly not such tall ones. The dense trees allows a comfortable amount of light, its movements produces a faint sound. Unlike the bamboo forest in Chinese Kung Fu films, it just looks more peaceful. But too bad it's just a short pathway. You can't really enter the bamboo forest as the pathway is fenced. On a side note, I think the dried bamboo fence adds a pop to the green surroundings. 

Passed by Nonomiya Shrine which is just 10 minutes walk away from the bamboo groves. 

nearby shops that sells all sorts of souvenir including bamboo shoots products

Lunch of the day: Sakura and Green Tea Ice Cream (300yen)
Honestly the matcha flavor is very strong, but all I care is just the icy sensation hehe. 

#COTD I didn't really have lunch coz I wasn't hungry, but more like tired. Got this before heading into Kinkakuji for a boost. Honestly, coffee is everywhere in Japan and I love it :D

In Japan, you can get Haagen Daaz ice cream out of a vending machine. 

Kinkakuji Temple 金阁寺
From the west of Kyoto, made my way to the northern side to visit the glorious Zen temple. Just as the name suggest, the temple has a shiny golden exterior which is a sharp contrast against the green surroundings. Similar to the previous zen temples, the temple is also surrounded by garden and pond. Admission was 400 yen.

this photo macam yes

wishing candles

This is where I bought a Omamori (amulet) for avoiding bad luck, and few minutes after leaving the temple, I realize I left my map inside the temple LOLLL This does avoid bad luck but not make my brains better loll

Kiyomizudera Temple 清水寺
Off to the next temple at the east this time! Kiyomizudera is probably the signature temple building in Kyoto and it's also a UNESCO world heritage site. Its main temple hall is positioned up above the hill, which allows a view of Kyoto city. Unlike the zen temples with its green gardens, the Kiyomizudera temple grounds has several accompanying pagodas and temples for different Buddhist Gods. Admission is 400 yen. 

The main gate 

some temple halls before the main hall entrance

Love the color of the mountains here, a mix of light green and yellow 

the main hall with all wooden structures, check out those thick pillars
Sorry for the blur, it was actually very dark due to the scaffolding for renovation 

The observation deck where you could see the temple's main hall standing high up the hills

next to the main hall is Jishu Shrine to pray for love

and guess who's over there LOL

Otowa Waterfall where people queue to drink the water for blessings

one of the surrounding temple buildings

the market street before Kiyomizudera

there's a Totoro specialty store for you fans!

Gion - Hanamikoji Dori 祇園,花見小路
The city of Kyoto isn't just about the historical temples, but in fact its preserved streets of ancient shop houses, and that's not it, even the tradition and culture lives on these streets. One of such area is Gion and more specifically, one such street is Hanamikoji street, the luxury dining district where you can find geishas and maikos entertain guests at Ochaya (teahouses).  

The main street of Hanamikoji street

one of the alleys 

Totally fell for this charming district of wooden shop houses

lucky enough, spotted one Maiko in one of the alleys! 
totally did not expect to see one.

besides tea houses, the street is mainly lined with Japanese restaurants that offers Kaiseki meals. 

at the end of the street is Gion corner, a theater with traditional performances

Gion-Shirakawa 祇園白川
Another pretty district in Gion for a delightful dinner would be the shops along Shirakawa canal. I don't have a nice photo at night but the whole stretch of shops along the canal, together with swaying trees and lanterns looks super charming. 

The shops have windows that overlooks into the canal

so pretty like it belonged to a novel

Dinner at Gyoza Hohei ぎょうざ 歩兵
Address: Japan, 〒605-0084 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Kiyomotocho, 373−3
It's just a minute walk from the Shirakawa canal, do expect to wait as there's limited seats inside. 

The restaurant has a limited menu that serves only two versions of Gyoza alongside several side dishes. Gyoza's were made before my eyes and served directly to me. Yet another interesting dining experience. 

Began with a Clam Soup (320yen) served in a mini cup. It's like drinking a shot of clam soup, sweet, rich and refreshing.  It's not oily at all, love the clean taste. 

behind- Garlic and Leek Gyoza 
front- Ginger Gyoza
(420 yen for 8pcs)
One of my favorite food from the trip. Crunchy on the outside, yet the filling inside is juicy. Cannot stop stuffing these dumplings into my mouth. I prefer Garlic and Leek due to its strong aroma. The Ginger Gyozas have a mildly sweet flavor. Both are amazing really. 

Reward myself for desert since I didn't have a proper lunch. Another reason is because the Family Mart at Gion-Shirakawa has a 1st floor dining area that overlooks to the Shirakawa canal. So if you don't have the budget to spend in one of the restaurants along the canal, you could use the view from FM as an alternative haha. 

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