Saturday, 12 December 2015

Kyoto Day 2 - Eastern Kyoto

It was temple day today! Kiyomizu dera
I am alive. That was our last day on bicycles! Hallelujah!

Today we took the easy path along the Kamo River for as long as we could before braving the footpaths on the way to our first temple. To be honest, the riding was pretty easy as the terrain was flat and it was mostly not dangerous. The Japanese knew the rules, the Chinese tourists unfortunately didn't...The hard bit was working out where to park the bicycles. Apparently many illegally parked bicycles are collected each day and taken to one of several penalty stations in the far south of the city. That would mean a fine, wasted time, lost deposit and no means of transportation! We looked for bicycles already parked and only parked next to them hoping that we were following law abiding citizens.

Cycling along the Kamo River

Our first stop was Heian Shrine. A photo from the outside and a quick walk around would have to suffice. We had serious Disney restaurant issues to sort out and Malcolm's plans were being thwarted by Disney Vacation Club, technical failures and lack of knowledge of the compatibility of data-based phone services with the Japanese 1800 equivalent. The end result was over an hour in a Japanese 7/11 equivalent whilst the friendly non-English speaking attendant let us use her static laden cordless landline to make a phone call. Unfortunately DVC were unable to deliver on the pre-trip promises so we'll have to cross our fingers in order to get into Magellan's secret room at Tokyo Disney Sea next month. Anyway moving on...

Hei-an Shrine

Elliot watching a local baseball game whilst Daddy tries to call DVC on his mobile

Mobile didn't work, let's try the local pay phone

No go either. Let's see if someone kind inside can help us!

Our next stop was the best temple of the day - Ginkakuji. The highlights were the sand and moss gardens. It still befuddles me somewhat at how gardens became our "thing". We were never gardening people! We tend to kill plants...Our garden sojourn was followed by lunch at Omen. It rates as a must do udon experience on several foodie websites. We were finally taught the correct way to eat udon and it involved three bowls and a  plate. It was all fantastic except for the mackerel sushi. We have decided that we are not mackerel lovers after all.


Known for its sand garden

A large pile of sand - tribute to Mount Fuji

Sand garden on a large scale

The sand gardeners?!? working very carefully...

The very pretty surrounds

Moss garden

Omen - udon restaurant

Mackerel sushi

Udon topping

Unusual udon with very thick broth


We meandered onto The philosophers path, a path over 2km long which gently tracked downhill from Gingakuji to Nanzenji temple. It is lined by artsy shops, cafes and the like and was peaceful and beautiful in the winter sun. Best of all, it was light on pedestrians which relieved my stress of Jonah crashing significantly. By the time we arrived at Nanzenji, we were already templed out! A family vote ruled that we just did a quick perimeter walk, checked out outside and the aqueduct rode on. It was three to two - I was a nay! Bad mother.

The start of the philosopher's path

Shops along the way

Scenic, peaceful and no crowds



Yasaka Shrine

Many Japanese (and chinese tourists!) dressed up in kimonos

We zoomed in and out of the other temples on our list before arriving at our final serious temple - Kiyomizu dera. It was a good thing that we weren't waiting for buses between each one. Unfortunately, Kiyomizu was at the top of a steep hill. We made it nearly to the top, found legal parking, and made our approach to the temple along the steep and busy street of the Higashiyama District lined with shops. The temple is one of the most celebrated in Japan and it was crowded. Unfortunately the temple was going through restoration in stages and thus our views of the temple were marred by scaffolding. Nonetheless it still gave us a magnificent view down towards Kyoto. We rode away from it all to the quiet side of the canal. Here we returned our bikes, and ended up at a Japanese restaurant upon the recommendation of Hiro the bike shop man, . Ordering was done via tablet and the food came quickly. It was a bit kitsch, but tasty and not too expensive.

The busy streets of Higashiyama leading up to Kiyomizu dera

Kiyomizu dera

Ordering from a touch screen

Great idea of kids meal. Make your own sushi!

Lara's meal

Green tea parfait

Yuzu sherbet - very tasty!

Watch this space...kit kat to grill?!!?

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