Friday, February 01, 2008

2/3/08 Kyoto: Day 2

We arrived at our second hotel a few hours before check-in, and so were unable to really get settled before we started out again. We checked our maps and the closest place that looked interesting was Toji temple.

Toji occupies a fairly large area slightly south-east of Kyoto Station, and it wasn't too much of a problem to walk there. I was initially impressed at the size of the parking lot and the number of tour buses coming and going. This led to me to believe that we had found an important place. The five-storied pagoda in Toji is the tallest wooden structure in Japan, according to Wikitravel.

The outskirts of the temple had a better than average selection of the charms and the other templey things that are always present at religious points of interest.

I recall at some point we were at another nearby temple, but they were so close to each other that I don't think that there was much distinction between the two. Anyway, here are a couple highlight temple shots in no particular order.

Here is one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Angelica against a wall of what I assume to be prayers written on individual pieces of wood.

Here is another good of us with a priest that Angelica corralled into getting a picture with us. The look on the priest's face is memorable.

There was small gathering of people praying pretty intently to a statue of what I think is a monk.

A closer shot of the monk.

When we reached the center of the grounds where the most important buildings were situated, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a small flea market was in progress. I love these little sales, and I think that Angelica enjoys them as well, although we are generally hunting for different kinds of things.

Because the prices there are much more subjective, haggling is an important skill in Colombia, and I enjoy watching Angelica in action. Our bargaining styles are pretty much opposite, as I am a bit more calculating about how much things are worth and should cost, and Angelica is cute enough that the numbers don't really seem to matter. She just jokes around with people and smiles until the price goes down. Fun.

Angelica scored some piggy banks shaped like sumo wrestlers, and some nice wooden (heavy) statues as well. There were lots of cool antiques, but they were mostly too expensive for my tastes, so we stuck to more garage sale-type merchandise.

A bit of commerce taking place in front of a large temple building.

The admission to see the pagoda up-close was a bit expensive and seemed unnecessary.

Next I thought it might be nice for Angelica to see the Gion district of Kyoto, a well known neighborhood famous for geisha and its nice atmosphere. I would say it embodies the image that most people have when they think of Kyoto: plenty of stone-paved streets and traditional buildings. According to Wikipedia, Gion is the setting for much of the novel Memoirs of a Geisha.

Yasaka Shrine in the area had quite a bit of New Years festival going on (despite the fact that it is already two days past), so we stopped in to check things out.

A central stage features plenty of lanterns, each notes a sponsor of the festival.

We had dinner at a pretty fancy place in the area, Angelica had a good size sukiyaki and I had a dinner set with all sorts of interesting things going on. The waitress gave us plenty of help on how to deal with the pot and all the many utensils and condiments. There was never enough room on the table for all the stuff they kept bringing out.

We did a bit more walking in a more modern part of the city before bedtime.

A policeman gives warnings to illegally parked bicycles while standing next to an impressive statue, a woman with a sword in one hand and a fan in the other.

Here's another look at Kyoto Tower, this time from the front.

We eventually made it back to our hotel, which was nice, but not overly so. It did have a couple of technological wonders, though.

Behold! No matter how steamy the bathroom got, there was one spot of the mirror that was always clear. What hath God wrought?

Here is a brief and goofy video I made concerning the toilet. Enjoy.

Notice that the flusher isn't even connected to the toilet. Its on the back wall to the right. Insanity!


  1. I like the picture of you with the priest. He does have an interesting expression.

    By his outfit and the fact you called him priest, tells me he is a Shinto Priest?

  2. Honestly I am no expert on the faith's details. I'm not sure how well words like "priest" even would describe the functions of people in Shinto. Any ideas?

    I'm proud of myself when I can spot the difference between a temple and a shrine.

  3. I am not an expert between temple and shrine. The one way I know for sure is that shrines have the torii gate and buddhist temples do not.