Beyond Kyoto Station

I’d been in Kyoto once before, in 1998 for a W3C meeting, but I mostly saw the area around Kyoto Station because the meeting was in the Granvia Hotel there, and there wasn’t much time for sightseeing. This time is different.

Our hotel made it easy to find the breakfast room they’d reserved for us.

Our first stop this morning was Ryoan-Ji Temple, which was originally an aristocrat’s country home; it was converted into a Zen temple in 1450. There were still some beautiful blossoms on the trees, and the pond on the premises was quite pleasant, too.

The rock garden is the centerpiece of the temple; it was designed so that you can’t see all 15 of its stones simultaneously if you are sitting on the veranda of the abbot’s residence. Our guide said that this was to illustrate the incompleteness of human perception.

My photo of the garden also illustrates the limits of my camera equipment.

We continued touring the grounds and enjoying their beauty.

Airpods for the win!

We left Ryoan-Ji and drove a few minutes to the Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion.

The Pavilion was originally built in the 15th Century but what we saw today only dates back to 1955, when it was rebuilt after being burnt down by a novice monk who was suffering from mental illness.

The Pavilion and its grounds are very popular – tourists have to follow a one-way path around the grounds to reduce congestion! I’m glad we were here at a relatively quiet time.

This sign prepared us to return to the real world:

We escaped the souvenir shop unscathed, but the matcha ice cream called out to be tried.

The bus took us along the Kamo River and back to the hotel.

We came back, dropped our Quietvoxes, and caught the hotel’s shuttle to their Welcome Center at Kyoto Station. I wanted to get tickets for our Shinkansen (bullet train) trip to Tokyo at the beginning of Golden Week, and I thought it would be easy to do it at the station. There was even a special ticket counter for tourists (in other words, one with English-speaking clerks), and it only took a couple of minutes to make the purchase once we reached the front of the line.

We caught the shuttle back to the hotel and set out on foot for our afternoon’s exploration. First, we had to find a place to eat lunch – the first couple of places we tried looked at our allergy card and said we needed to go elsewhere. We wound up at Taimeshyia Fukuno, a very small restaurant which has only two things on their menu: a raw egg dish, and a dish with raw sea bream (or maybe red snapper – the signs outside the restaurant said “sea bream”, but the English-language menu inside said “red snapper”). We went for the fish, and it was delicious.

I’d accidentally left the charger for my shaver at home (leaving the house at 6:30am might have played a role in that). I asked our guides where I might find a replacement, and they suggested Edion, a few blocks south of the restaurant. It’s a huge (six floors) electronics store; personal care products were on the fourth floor. But they didn’t have the replacement charger (it was “on order”), so I bought a Braun M-90 battery-operated shaver. It cost all of $23.

We took a little detour to walk back to the hotel along the Kamogawa River instead of on the busy street; it was quite pleasant, except for the bicycles zipping past (much like walking the Los Gatos Creek trail at home).

This evening, there was a reception at the hotel; I made the mistake of having Kirin Whiskey. It was tasty, but I didn’t learn that it was 100 proof until I was on my second drink.

There wasn’t much food at the reception, so we went out for dinner at Dublin, next to the hotel. It was very easy to find something safe on their menu: fish and chips. The chips were a bit on the salty side, but I enjoyed them anyway. And their Guinness was far better than any I’ve had in California – they took the time to pour it correctly.

It’s good to see a bit more of the city than my first trip here!