Kyoto in a day...
Trip Start Jan 12, 2008
171Trip End Oct 01, 2008
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I hop on Blue at 10am and proceed to hit every major site in Kyoto by dinner time. First stop is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site (I wonder how many of those I've seen so far on my trip...) Nijo Castle. Originally built in 1603 as the residence of the first Shogun, it wasn't completed until the third Shogun took power.
Blue and I ride through some neighborhoods and stumble upon an organized soccer game which is clearly a Sunday club game. The only difference is that the entire field is dirt. It may be an even dirt, but it definitely provided for a dusty game as well as some irregular bounces which didn't help the already struggling sides. No goals were scored and no real chances were given up in ten minutes so I decide to hop back on Blue and move along. Next stop, the world famous rock garden of Ryoanji Temple.
It was just a bunch of rocks in the middle of some gravel and regardless of how long I stared at it, the significance didn't come to me. My imagination ran wild and still I saw a bunch of rocks placed completely randomly with no meaning behind it... I'm still thinking and maybe the point is that you need to just be content with the world as it is and not try to make it something that it isn't??? I don't know!
A brief refueling stop and I'm on to the nearby Kinkakuji Temple. This temple houses the Golden Pavilion which was someone's house in the 1220's and is literally made of gold.
Next on my whirlwind tour is the Kyoto Imperial Palace and National Gardens. This enormous palace complex houses baseball diamonds packed with softball players, tennis courts packed with families and couples alike, and plenty of park benches and green space crowded with picnickers. In other words, despite a lack of relative beauty to the other structures, this place was packed. I realized that this was a very local crowd and that they came here to avoid the tourists swarming all the other places.
Not to be forgotten along the way were the Sosenji Temple, Sanjusangendo Temple and Kitano Temmangu Shrine, all beautiful in their own right but after a certain number of temples they all seem to blend together. And I didn't even make it to close to half the temples in Kyoto let alone taking the train to the supposedly beautiful Nara!
On the way back to the ryokan I decide to rock Blue through Gion one more time just to catch another glimpse of the "less-then-awe-inspiring" geishas.
I'm still not quite sure what they were celebrating and no one could really explain it to me but it was pretty cool to witness a small parade through the back alleys of historic Gion!
I try to find Bill but he isn't back at the ryokan yet so I head out to dinner in ponchodoro again where I have some of the best tempura ever!
Trip planning update: Today I found out that the ticket to the Champions League Finals I had originally arranged for was no longer mine, having been sold to a higher bidder at some point in the last 6 months. I get pissed and realize that I am now without a ticket to the biggest sporting event of the year and housing in Moscow on the busiest weekend of the year, for an already tight hotel room market. I look and find one hotel room for a mere $1,500 a night. Hmmm... what to do... Well, a long time back I recalled hearing about this website, Couchsurfing.com. While I am slightly skeptical about staying on some rando's couch, my options are limited at this point so I sign up, create a little profile and start "surfing" Moscow. Within a few hours I have a response from one Victor Aspidov, a.k.a. my hero! Victor, it turns out, has a couch to offer me free of charge. I accept his offer and am excited to have an insider point of view for Moscow, and a free place to stay in the world's most expensive city! If this works out, I may have to start trying it more often... and offer up my place wherever I settle down next, not that my couch isn't used on a weekly basis already!