Kyoto and Back Again

I wanted to see Kyoto in the fall.

I can't believe the houses look so old timey!

I can’t believe the houses look so old timey!

I wanted to see the Kyoto I’d heard could make you cry because of the intensity of the momiji -“red leaves”. The tradition of visiting a place in order to see leaves that have turned for autumn is called momijigari –a combination of the words momiji and  kari “hunting”.

I'm so into saturation!! I'm sorry. Eventually I'll grow out of my addiction to bright colors I'm sure.

I’m so into saturation!! I’m sorry. Eventually I’ll grow out of my addiction to bright colors I’m sure.

Kyoto 681Kyoto 744 Kyoto 736Kyoto 778 Kyoto 780Unfortunately, as you can already tell, I didn’t see very much red. Insert sad face here. Angela, my California Jet ALT friend (I could really just say friend I suppose since most of you know who I live with by now) accompanied me on my venture into the old world Japan. We both figured that the lack of momiji had been brought upon by the huge amounts of rain we’d been receiving lately. So most places looked more like this:

greeeeeeen....

greeeeeeen….

GREEN GREEN!

GREEN GREEN!

Green!

Green!

I was referred by several friends to visit Kyoto. It is one of the most historically rich places in all of Japan. If you have no time to visit any other place, they said, go to Kyoto.

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As you come down from Fushimi Inari.

As you come down from Fushimi Inari.

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On our way up to another temple. It had started to rain.

On our way up to another temple. It had started to rain.

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The most beautiful Angela. I think I was just messing with my camera and happened to snag this shot. ^_^

The most beautiful Angela. I think I was just messing with my camera and happened to snag this shot. ^_^

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Like I said, definitely old world.

Like I said, definitely old world.

Children here always end up asking me a certain set of questions: Do you like hamburgers? Do you like Japanese food? What place in Japan do you like? There are a few more, but I hear those at least four or five times per school and that’s the low end number. I’ve always been a smart donkey about it and said my bed. I mean that though, I have the best bed. I’m writing this post from it currently. But after going to Kyoto, I now have a better answer.

Gio-Ji Temple.

Gio-Ji Temple.

Gio-ji Temple will forever be my favorite place perhaps in the whole of the world, it is just that beautiful. Within this temple there are seven different kinds of moss all of which are so vibrant and comfy looking. The woman who lived here was named Gio. She was said to be very beautiful but could not keep the attention of the then emperor Kiyomori. She moved to this compound with her mother and sister renouncing the world to live as a nun of sorts. She died and was buried here. When I read the sign above I will admit to thinking she was foolish, but as you will see, if I could name a place to live and die, I’d name Gio-ji too.

I really felt like I would see a hobbit or an elf walk by any second.

I really felt like I would see a hobbit or an elf walk by any second.

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This might be the most beautiful picture I have ever taken in my life. I got this shot because I have to continuously tell myself, "Get low Chase. Change your perspective."

This might be the most beautiful picture I have ever taken in my life. I got this shot because I have to continuously tell myself, “Get low Chase. Change your perspective.”

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I was pretty obsessed with taking pictures here.

I was pretty obsessed with taking pictures here.

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Huge and creepy but cool spider. Sorry Brandi. Don't look.

Huge and creepy but cool spider. Sorry Brandi. Don’t look.

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Weirdest looking plant ever....

Weirdest looking plant ever….

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This was a mini shrine for a cat that had started living at Gio-ji...I don't really understand whey it deserved a shrine but it died a couple of years ago.

This was a mini shrine for a cat that had started living at Gio-ji…I don’t really understand whey it deserved a shrine but it died a couple of years ago.

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This is a close up picture of a paper lantern within the main temple where the Dainichi Buddha idol (deification of sunlight) resides. I actually wasn't suppose to take pictures buuuut, I couldn't read the sign that was in kanji.

This is a close up picture of a paper lantern within the main temple where the Dainichi Buddha idol (deification of sunlight) resides. I actually wasn’t suppose to take pictures buuuut, I couldn’t read the sign that was in kanji.

This was the last picture I took in the house because another guide told me that I couldn't. He acted a little pissed but come on dude. If you'd at least put a picture up of a camera with a "no no" circle around it. I don't even know the Japanese for no pictures MUCH less the kanji for it.

This was the last picture I took in the house because another guide told me that I couldn’t. He acted a little pissed but come on dude. If you’d at least put a picture up of a camera with a “no no” circle around it. I don’t even know the Japanese for no pictures MUCH less the kanji for it.

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I think Angela and I can agree that we somehow picked perfectly the places we would visit. Sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose. There literally was not a thing I would have changed about that trip. Fushimi Inari Shrine was actually the first place we visited after getting of the shinkansen “bullet train” and checking into our ryokan a “traditional Japanese inn.”

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Look how cute I am. Thank you Angela for taking so many great shots of me without complaint.

Look how cute I am. Thank you Angela for taking so many great shots of me without complaint.

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I really wanted to do a "Cat's in Kyoto" post. Hahaha the were so cute and I just kept happening upon them.

I really wanted to do a “Cat’s in Kyoto” post. Hahaha the were so cute and I just kept happening upon them.

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Angela took all of these shots of me.

Angela took all of these shots of me.

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I was told that I had BETTER get pictures of myself in these places or I'd be in trouble by Jenny Tam my Jet ALT friend from Canada.

I was told that I had BETTER get pictures of myself in these places or I’d be in trouble by Jenny Tam my Jet ALT friend from Canada.

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You can purchase them by donating to the shrine a sum of money. The size of the torii "traditional Japanese gate" is dependent upon the size of the donation. They also put the name of whomever it was that donate that gate to the shrine.

You can purchase them by donating to the shrine a sum of money. The size of the torii “traditional Japanese gate” is dependent upon the size of the donation. They also put the name of whomever it was that donate that gate to the shrine.

So how these work is they essentially cover the path up this mountain.

So how these work is they essentially cover the path up this mountain.

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You can buy one or many of these in various places as you go up and down the mountain. Most people use them to pray. On a certain day every year, the priests of this shrine gather all of these small ones up and burn them to make room for the next year. It is actually a sort of festival.

You can buy one or many of these in various places as you go up and down the mountain. Most people use them to pray. On a certain day every year, the priests of this shrine gather all of these small ones up and burn them to make room for the next year. It is actually a sort of festival.

Angela wanted a shot here too.

Angela wanted a shot here too.

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I was determined to find the first and last. Here is number one!! At the very top!

I was determined to find the first and last. Here is number one!! At the very top!

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As you make your way to the top of the mountain, you come to these sections of the main path. There are small numbered shrines. People go an pray at specific ones I'm assuming because their family has always prayed at number 28 or 201 etc.

As you make your way to the top of the mountain, you come to these sections of the main path. There are small numbered shrines. People go an pray at specific ones I’m assuming because their family has always prayed at number 28 or 201 etc.

Another "Cats of Kyoto" shot.

Another “Cats of Kyoto” shot.

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At the bottom of the mountain there is a huge shrine complex and many people pray there as well. All around this area are souvenir shops and food stalls too.

At the bottom of the mountain there is a huge shrine complex and many people pray there as well. All around this area are souvenir shops and food stalls too.

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Angela should be a model. She is so photogenic.

Angela should be a model. She is so photogenic.

Once you get high enough you can see the city down below. It was a beautiful view. I bought my own little torii gate here and they put little bells on it as well as wrote my name, the date, and a good luck message on it. I felt like it was the best sort of souvenir because it was no joke trudging up that mountain...mountains....ugh

Once you get high enough you can see the city down below. It was a beautiful view. I bought my own little torii gate here and they put little bells on it as well as wrote my name, the date, and a good luck message on it. I felt like it was the best sort of souvenir because it was no joke trudging up that mountain…mountains….ugh

Fushimi Inari shrine's main idol or guard of sorts is the fox. Yes...this is a fox....

Fushimi Inari shrine’s main idol or guard of sorts is the fox. Yes…this is a fox….

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The most current (aka last) mini shrine number 205! Thank you Angela for indulging me in looking for number 1 and 205.

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The last aka most current mini shrine number 205. Thanks Angela for indulging my search for this one and number 1!!

The last aka most current mini shrine number 205. Thanks Angela for indulging my search for this one and number 1!!

Another spot we visited was Adashino Nenbustu-ji, a Buddhist temple housing 8,000 stone Buddhas commemorating the passing of paupers whose families could not afford a proper burial. During a festival in August 1,000 candles are lit to honor these anonymous souls. The main temple hall was built in 1712 and houses an idol referred to as the Amida Buddha.

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I really loved how weather worn all of the small statues are.

I really loved how weather worn all of the small statues are.

A huge edifice in the center of the 8,000 Buddhas.

A huge edifice in the center of the 8,000 Buddhas.

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This was one of the differing Buddha carvings that were on a fountain near a more current graveyard in the temple.

This was one of the differing Buddha carvings that were on a fountain near a more current graveyard in the temple.

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This is actually a shot I took on our way to the next temple. We were actually trying to go see this iconic bridge that appears in literally ANY drama that takes place in Kyoto. We ran into a different place all together and never found the bridge until we went over it on accident while riding the bus back to the mall near our ryokan.

This is actually a shot I took on our way to the next temple. We were actually trying to go see this iconic bridge that appears in literally ANY drama that takes place in Kyoto. We ran into a different place all together and never found the bridge until we went over it on accident while riding the bus back to the mall near our ryokan.

The first time I realized I wanted to go to Kyoto was when a friend of mine, Linda, tagged me in a photo of the Kitasaga Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama. I unfortunately couldn’t get the coolest pictures, but I did enjoy walking the path through that huge grove. It was eerily quiet even though there were so many people walking through it. It was as if the sheer height of the bamboo whisked all the sound up, up, up into the towering sky above you.

A section of the bamboo grove and a rickshaw! Hahaha I didn't take a ride in one but I was happy to see it.

A section of the bamboo grove and a rickshaw! Hahaha I didn’t take a ride in one but I was happy to see it.

All along the grove is a high wall that prevents passersby from going into the actual grove. It his topped by this tall fuzzy grass.

All along the grove is a high wall that prevents passersby from going into the actual grove. It his topped by this tall fuzzy grass.

Off to one side of the bamboo grove was a tiny turnaround that allowed you to get close to a few bamboo stalks for pictures. Angela and I preferred this little tree.

Off to one side of the bamboo grove was a tiny turnaround that allowed you to get close to a few bamboo stalks for pictures. Angela and I preferred this little tree.

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We had to cross over these random railroad tracks but it was strangely picturesque.

We had to cross over these random railroad tracks but it was strangely picturesque.

As I mentioned in a note beneath a photo before, Angela and I had been attempting to find this iconic bridge when we stumbled up on Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple. Out of the 1,200 other temples and shrines in Kyoto, this might be my favorite accidental find (if not favorite just under Gio-ji). Angela and I were super exhausted by this point since it was the end of the day and we had literally and hour before most places closed (all of Kyoto seems to close down at 5-5:30). Not to mention, this temple we found was at the top of a pretty steep climb ending in a tunnel to seemingly nowhere. On top of that, it was going to rain any minute. Upon discovering we had somehow become lost, we checked the bus stop across the street for when the next bus, going the direction and stopping where we wanted, would come. Sure enough we had almost a full hour to sit and wait. This temple was DIRECTLY across and we almost didn’t go in because it cost money and we were tired and nearing broke, but I am so glad we did. I peered in and somehow convinced Angela to join me in making another climb up into this guide book avoided temple. Inside there are over 1,200 rakan which are stone statues representing the disciples of Buddha. Now, I know that sounds nearly the same as the temple you just read about but less impressive, but it is nothing like it. Where Adashino Nenbutsu-ji is all gravitas, Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is hilarity and fun. Most of the statues were carved by amateurs whose names are displayed upon the back of the figures.  Angela and I had so much fun rummaging through them finding a different face, stance, or theme every time.

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I told Angela to find her favorite one but there were too many to choose from she said.

I told Angela to find her favorite one but there were too many to choose from she said.

If you notice, Angela found this little guy holding a camera and it was too cute an opportunity to pass by.

If you notice, Angela found this little guy holding a camera and it was too cute an opportunity to pass by.

I loved his beard!

I loved his beard!

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Teeth!

Teeth!

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The temple itself was just too cute. It was layered in a way I hadn't seen before in a temple so small.

The temple itself was just too cute. It was layered in a way I hadn’t seen before in a temple so small.

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Here you can see the name of the sculptor.

Here you can see the name of the sculptor.

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It began it rain at the tail end of our exploration. But I enjoyed even that.

It began it rain at the tail end of our exploration. But I enjoyed even that.

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I loved how the moss is fine enough to still show the features of the carved faces beneath it.

I loved how the moss is fine enough to still show the features of the carved faces beneath it.

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These two must have been my favorite. They are the truest example of Japanese nomunication aka communication through drinking alcohol.

These two must have been my favorite. They are the truest example of Japanese nomunication aka communication through drinking alcohol.

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We also went to Ginkaku-ji Temple jokingly (and more commonly) referred to as the Temple of the Silver Pavilion called thus because of it’s sibling Kinkaku-ji Temple where the Golden Pavilion was rebuilt in 1955. Since we wanted to see old world Japan, Angela and I decided to go to Ginkaku-ji instead of Japan’s most widely photographed tourist attraction at Kinkaku-ji. Founded in 1490 its complex is actually an example of a Zen Buddhist temple including beautiful landscape as well as a sand garden with a mound of formed sand symbolizing Mount Fuji.

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To the right, you can see the Mt. Fuji sand mound.

To the right, you can see the Mt. Fuji sand mound.

The Silver Pavilion is not silver at all. Just really old and lovely.

The Silver Pavilion is not silver at all. Just really old and lovely.

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I was once again astounded by how lovely moss can be.

I was once again astounded by how lovely moss can be.

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Momiji!

Momiji!

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This little path was actually cutoff from tourists, but it looked so pretty I had to get a shot of it.

This little path was actually cutoff from tourists, but it looked so pretty I had to get a shot of it.

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My camera literally died right here. Luckily this was pretty much the last stop of our trip before we jumped on the shinkansen to head home.

My camera literally died right here. Luckily this was pretty much the last stop of our trip before we jumped on the shinkansen to head home.

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Me and Ginkaku-ji!

Me and Ginkaku-ji!

A cute little brook added a gorgeous touch of tranquility to your climb through Ginkaku-ji. I found that many temples and shrines employ this use of water.

A cute little brook added a gorgeous touch of tranquility to your climb through Ginkaku-ji. I found that many temples and shrines employ this use of water.

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The last place I want to talk about visiting is Nijo Castle. It was built in 1603 as the residence of the first Tokugawa shogun Ieyasu and sports the coolest floors anyone ever created ever in the history floor creation, no joke. The floors in the castle are called nightingale floors and were then a form of high-security in protecting against ninja attacks! Now how cool is that?! I had always wanted to hear the sound that they made but had sort of despaired of every getting the chance. You see, as you walk along the halls of this castle, you hear the sound of birds chirping. I didn’t even notice I was hearing it because I literally thought it was just the birds outside. I was so overjoyed at discovering it was myself and the hundred or so other people moving through the castle museum who were making the noise that I nearly cried. I had really thought the sound would be annoying an how could anyone live like that but in all honesty, it is a gentle sort of distant sound made when nails gently rub against a jacket or clamp under the floor. I only have pictures of the outside because inside photography was not allowed. They had manikins set up to show what happened in certain rooms, who sat where, and sometimes even why they sat in that specific spot. For instance, during a meeting with many officials, the shogun sat at a predetermined distance from both his officials and a door to his right. This distance was decided upon because it allowed guards stationed behind the door enough time to protect the shogun in case one of the officials tried to kill him. Aside from that, as you move through the castle you are able to see the elaborate gold leafing and wall paintings many of which have been restored. All in all, its a definite must see.

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Woman who were chosen to be the shogun's concubines lived out the rest of their life within the castle itself or the garden immediately surrounding it. Once they entered the castle complex, they never left it ever again even in death. Upon their death in fact, Angela told me that a letter and sum of money was sent to their family letting them know of their loss and being compensated for the loss of their daughter to the shogun.

Woman who were chosen to be the shogun’s concubines lived out the rest of their life within the castle itself or the garden immediately surrounding it. Once they entered the castle complex, they never left it ever again even in death. Upon their death in fact, Angela told me that a letter and sum of money was sent to their family letting them know of their loss and being compensated for the loss of their daughter to the shogun.

I would have gone stir crazy even though I am a homebody.

I would have gone stir crazy even though I am a homebody.

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Some outside areas of Nijojo were SUPER colorful. I was rather surprised by that.

Some outside areas of Nijojo were SUPER colorful. I was rather surprised by that.

 

So, here are a few pictures I forgot to add during the post. I’ll end with them even though they are out of sequence. I know this post was long, but I was in Kyoto for three days!! I hope you enjoyed looking at all my repetitive pictures. Insert winky face here.

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I'm glad this is the last picture. I found this horse at Fushimi Inari Shrine I believe. Doesn't he have the cutest little face!!!

I’m glad this is the last picture. I found this horse at Fushimi Inari Shrine I believe. Doesn’t he have the cutest little face!!!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Kyoto and Back Again

  1. ERICA!! I loved all your photos. Japan is so beautiful. Everything looks so clean and just…well manicured? If that makes sense. You took some amazing shots. When you come home I want to steal some and frame them. 🙂 and thanks for the shout out on the spider pic… I did shudder a little but it was a cool picture! Love you!

    Ps! I love all the photos with you in them! You are gorgeous!! 🙂

  2. Erica!!!!!! I have been saving this post until I was done with markets….I believe this is my favorite blog you’ve ever done….I want to have some of the pics blown up for the house….that is AFTER I get to see this place myself….In approx 130 days! I miss you some bad!

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