Kyoto - Japan - April 5th and 6th 2010

words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

Tokyo || Osaka || Nara || Kamakura || Kyoto Day 2

Monday morning had us up at a reasonable time to catch the 9:45 train to Kyoto.

Justin and I had to stay in a separate hotel from the others so we had to fend for ourselves for breakfast. While tempting we didn't have steak and ice cream for breakfast.

Upon arriving in the new train station in Kyoto you can see a new sense of pride in the people here! They even vacuum the train station!

Heading through the ticket booth at the station.

We took a taxi to our hotel - KKR Kyoto Kuni - so by the Kamo River. This is a cool bridge made of rocks and turtles!

Hotel KKR Kuni-so

In Kyoto we had to check out Tozando, a store that carries the nicest gi's!

Once we finished shopping and picked up some bento box lunch we were off to the Arashiyama area and Togetsu-Kyo. This is a famous bridge featured in many Japanese Samarai stories.

A map of the many shrines in this area.

The largest is Tenryu-ji Zen Temple - A world cultural heritage site. This temple is the head temple of the Tenryu-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. Established in 1339 by shogun Ashikaga Takauji in memory of Emperor Go-Daigo.

Some pretty girls getting a ride near the temple.

The main temple hall.

cool rocks!

Photos of Tenryu-ji in its four seasons.

Now THAT'S a Zen Garden!

Sogen Garden Pond. This garden is one of the oldest in Japan retaining the same form as when it was designed by Muso Soseki in the 14th century.

Natan zenning out under the weeping cherry blossoms.

A cool feature is the large bamboo garden.

Natan, Bruce, Thoung, Rona, Ishiyama Sensei, Justin.

More Bamboo!

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

We left Tenryu-ji area and stopped for Moshi balls and ice cream.

There were many cool houses and features along the way.

A guy riding with his chicken!

Cool house

Another destination. Famous Japanese grave yard.

Walk up to the temple.

Cool tori with Cherry blossoms in the background.

These stones represent miscarried and aborted fetus's.

More bamboo forest to another area of the graveyard.

Bell in the temple.

Careful Justin! Serenity only goes so far!

A monk.


Cool bikes in Kyoto!

Our final tour of the day Gion at night.

and dinner!

Kyoto Day 2 - Tour with JTB Travel.


Today Bruce arranged a full day tour with JTB Travel. We hit up 6 different sites throughout the day. Tours are a good way to get a quick fix of the sites, but doesn't really leave a lot of time to really see a place. And we have to follow.

Our guide was quite knowledgeable

Our first site was Nishi-Honganji Temple, home True Land Sect of Amita Buddha. If you say Amita Buddha 100 to 1000 times a day everyday you will be happy and eventually achieve enlightenment. Or so they say.

Bit out of focus, but you get the idea. Inside the temple the walls were overlaid with gold.

Lots of gold.

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Outside the temple are two Ginko Trees which are 400 years old.

Our second site was Nijo Castle, the home of the Shogunate from 1603 to 1868 when it was turned over to the Emperor of Japan.

Very elaborate decorations including the Phoenix, gold inlay and the Shogunate seal. No pictures were allowed of the interior of the Castle.

Natan and Justin playing in the garden.

Garden of Nijo Castle.

Justin eating a Kyoto Specialty.

Our third stop of the morning was the Golden Pavilion - Kinkaku.

Very busy on this spring day.

Carp waterfall - our guide told us that when the carp jumps up 100?feet it turns into a dragon!

For lunch we went to the tourist trap - Kyoto Handicraft Center.

Our first stop after lunch was the Shinto Shrine - Heian Shrine. Our guide told us that the two ornaments on either side of the roof were carp. These ornaments are present on all shrines and are supposed to protect the building from fire.

Also as you walked into the grounds there were two representative animals - a green dragon on the right - or East - representing Spring, a white tiger on the left - or West - representing Fall, to round this out North is represented by a black turtle and South a red sparrow. For more information on this mythology click here

The beautiful garden of Heian Shrine.

Our 5th stop was the incredible Sanjusangen-do temple. Inside this temple are 1001 standing statues of the Buddhist deity, Kannon and one sitting Deity. These statues are made of Japanese Cypress and layered with gold. In front of these Buddha's are 28 other Guardian Deities. Many of these Deities have their origin in India. We were not allowed to take any pictures inside this temple.

Outer garden.

Our final stop was Kiyomizudera - Pure water temple.

The pagoda as you enter the temple.

Purification Trough.

The water fall representing Wisdom, Health and Wealth. You can drink from one of two fountains to received the virtue you desire, drinking from all three will give you nothing.

Map of the area.

Natan, Thuong, Rona and Justin.


Back at our hotel we had a Keiseki dinner. Like a Japanese Tapas I guess.