Thursday, February 17, 2005


Kyoto is the cultural capital of Japan, where many important and protected temples and shrines are. And the mythical geisha, apparently!

Yesterday I walked over to the Toji Temple, which is the landmark of Kyoto. The tallest pagoda in Japan, this is actually the fourth construction of it, after previous pagodas have been reduced to ash after lightening strikes. Unfortunately, this photo does not do the detail justice - but I am reduced to just the digi, after my big she-bang camera has gone on strike.

I then bussed my way up to Kinkakuji Temple, or the Golden Pagoda. After having lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall, sitting up at the little bar, and chatting to the lady behind the counter (who was aghast that I was travelling on my own), I walked up the street and then through the gardens. You round the corner, and there it is!

Quite spectacular, actually. Gold foil makes the temple in the middle of the beautifully kept Japanese gardens look quite magical. Here, after walking through the path, I lit a candle to the God of Marriage for Jess and Andrew next month (one of the less cheesy prayers!).

Upon darkness, I ventured to Gion to go a-geisha spotting. I pictured, and even read, that you could see them bustling about, hurrying off to their evening appointments. I now thing this is one of those myths fed to tourists. I did see one girl, all done up in kimono and little geisha shoes - but no face make-up. I am claiming here as a sighting, but still... Unsuccessfully, I wandered down the lantern-lit Gion area, where shopping and dining seemed to be the main thing to do. The little back streets felt like more of a red-light district to me, and perhaps that`s where they all were!

Today I have visited the Ginkakuji Temple, which is also known as the Silver temple. Not as breathtaking as the Gold version on the other side of the city, but was surrounded in beautifully kept gardens. (More Kyoto photos.)

It started raining last night, and hasn`t stopped yet. Have had to buy a Japanese Girl umbrella (oh, alright, the boys have them too - but ALL the girls have them!). Kyoto is surrounded with mountains, and all day there have been wisps of clouds all around. I have actually worn thermals everyday, despite being reluctant to getting them (thanks Mum!), it`s so chilly!

In Kyoto the day the Protocol comes into effect - another reminder of the embarrassing state of Australia, and the "change will cost us all more money" propaganda of the Little Johnny government. I guess the "look after ourselves now" line won them the election last year, and they are sticking to it. Shame. I may start to do as the few intelligent American travellers do, and plaster the NZ flag to my pack....

I have missed the earthquake in Tokyo! There is so much around about what to do in case of an scared of them, the Tokyoites. Well, I am off to catch a Shinkasen back to Toyko - maybe there will be some after shocks!

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