Golden Pavilion and Nijo Castle
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
17Trip End Apr 25, 2012
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Upon arrival, we took a taxi to the hostel and stored our bags. This was Susan's and my first hostel experience. We had a room for four with two bunk beds and a book shelf, little more. There was a coed bathroom (two showers, three toilets) across the hall. It was clean, cheap ($28 pp), and served our purposes very well. We talked with a few people in the common areas and learned they were from Sweden, France, and the U.K., as well as Japan.
We took a bus to the Golden Pavilion, admired the shimmering building (lacquered gold leaf), and gushed over the the incredible gardens
While en route, we noticed a neighborhood festival happening in a tucked away little park. We decided to check it out on our way back. From the side we entered, the park consisted of narrow lanes edged by cherry trees. The fair was closing down for the day, but people lingered under the beer tents and strolled through the grounds. It was a fairy land of blossoms, lanterns, tori gates, and people carrying colorful umbrellas through the drizzling rain. You could expect the fairies to come out to play at any moment.
We then took a taxi (best $12.00 I ever spent) to Nijo Castle. It was first built in 1603 as the main residence of a local shogun. A huge place! It iwas designed with "nightingale floors," which purposefully creak so that intruders could be detected. We were there at one of special times of the year when the castle and grounds are illuminated with bamboo lanterns and up-lights into the trees. Another magical fantasy in lights and a major attraction for Japanese tourists and locals. I particularly enjoyed seeing a group of women dressed in kimonos posing under the cherry trees and taking pictures of each other. They were having great fun.
The night was cold, so I was glad to see a row of market stalls. I happily bought a pair of split-toe flowery red socks. My feet were much warmer, but it took a while to get used to the mitten-like design. We were lucky to come upon a koto concert by three kimono-clad women. It was lovely.
Hard to believe we've done so much in just two days!