The 31st of March was a seriously rainy day but this did not stop us from seeing more stunning dry rock gardens in particular Daisen-in and Zuiho-in, both part of the enormous Daitokuji-Monastery. Daisen-in is different, every stone has a name and a meaning and Zuiho-in is interesting because the main garden was created only in the 1960’s.
Our last day in Kyoto started with a marvellous spring dance and music performance of the Kyoto Geishas. The Miyako Odori performance runs for three weeks every spring and is preceded by a Japanese tea ceremony (see picture above).
Afterwards we strolled through the gardens of the Siver Pavillon (not silver but wooden), along the Philosopher’s Way, and in the gardens of Nanzen-ji temple complex in beautiful sunshine.
The cherry blossom was really only just beginning in Kyoto but people were out and about in anticipation. That night we took our last and fastest bullet train the Nazomi back to Tokyo. The ride of 452km takes around 2 and 1/2 hrs!
Kiyo took us from Koya-San to Kyoto via Osaka where we had a quick browse of ceramic shops and ate blowfish ( pufferfish). You may have seen the memorial to the blowfish in the last blog.
Tony’s take on our meal: “Octopus and puffer fish are more than life size looming over Osaka’s eating quarter. We had the latter for lunch, and survived! (Although I did feel odd for a minute or two.) Puffer fish (fugu) contain one of nature’s most lethal toxins, and fugu sashimi or soup can only be prepared by specially trained chefs. Wasn’t worth the bother, or the risk, imho”.
Each year around 50 people die in Japan after eating pufferfish.
We approached Kyoto from the south and stopped off at Fushimi-Imari Takisha- a Shinto Shrine complex built into Mt. Inari. Initially it was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake. It is lined with rows and rows of vermilion red Torii gates which have all been donated to the gods. One can still buy them, price depends on size! There are also hundreds of stone foxes, as the fox is considered the messenger of the god of cereals (Inari).
We finished the day with a stroll around the Geiko (Geisha) district, which was full of tourists trying to get a glimpse of a geisha but none were to be seen.
The 29th of March was our last day with Kiyo our Oku Travel guide and she took us on a wonderful trip around the west and north of Kyoto. She showed us some beautiful gardens and we finished off with a great spring meal that night. Below pictures of Tenruji-ji Temple gardens, the famous Bamboo grove, the Golden temple and one of the most well known Zen rock garden at Ryoanji Temple (see also above). There are 15 stones in this garden and you are meant to only ever be able to see 14 stones, except there is of course a vantage point from where you can see all the stones!
Tony had been to Kyoto 28 years ago and stayed in a temple called Myoren-Ji and whilst they don’t offer accommodation anymore the temple still exists. It appears to have been done up recently and has some stunning gardens and painted silk screens.
We continued on to Chishakuin temple and the 1001 statues of the Buddhist deity at Sanjusange-do followed by a special dinner where you sat in front of the chef. Tony liked the minimalist approach and that night we finally saw or first weeping cherry tree blossom.