Monday, March 15, 2010

The Golden Temple and the Pure Water Temple

Today was a mixture of solo-adventuring and temple sprawl, pretty cool. I woke up early as my body does not give me the choice any more and ran around the hotel area, Karasuma Oike, just checking things out. I ended up going to a cafe nearby for breakfast called M's. It was really odd - half Asics store half cafe, playing weird jazzy covers of pop songs as done by an asian female singer. Most notably was "Don't Stop Me Now" by was pretty good, actually. My breakfast was too - texas toast with strawberry jam, a salad with a potato salad on top (I did not ask) and an only mildly gross coffee. Gave me the energy to walk around. My area is really cool as it is basically if Uptown and Grand Central Station areas of NYC were combined and designed by Japanese people. That is all I can really say about it.

The Golden Temple was pretty cool, it was in a forest like all temples are, with a pond all around it. It was rather pretty and serene, very nice, though little to say about it. Ben and I got some charm gifts at the souvenier shop and then wandered the area looking for food. The area around the temple was really quiet and quaint, much less city-like. I find this really interesting because Ritsumeikan University is in the area, so I would have expected more activity.

Afterwards we went back to the hotel, Ben rested and I tried to get down to Kyoto Station before we were to go to the Pure Water Temple, though there is little to say on this than I was unsuccessful - the walk was too far. I did pass one of the few pizza parlors that smelt like a pizza parlor in Japan, though, which is worth a mention. As for the Water Temple, it was magnificent - even more so than the Golden Temple, and quite frankly, any of the temples and palaces I have seen so far. This was largely due to us going at night, when the whole thing was lit up by lamps and paper laterns. Yet, the real interest is this temple is designed to be explored. There is a path you are expected to follow that loops around and up, and then inwards and downwards. It is very exciting and adds to the experience by making it a kind of adventure. Even before you get to the temple, you have to climb a large hill filled with paper laterns and shops with temple goods and general Japanese style wares. Once you get to the top there are the standard pagodas and lion statues, some buddha statues and the like, surrounded on one side by mountains and forest, and on the otherside a valley with paths lit up by latern, with Kyoto's city-scape and mountains off in the distance. The path leads up and out around some buildings and upwards along this forest, with the path below clearly visible the whole time. Then it curves inwards, and you are on the lower path, descending, surrounded by the woods and the lights. At the end of the path is a water fall, where you can drink the pure water. Slightly offsetting this ambiance is a UV cleaner for these cups on long poles you use to drink, but it was still rather nice.

There is not really a lot to be said of these temples and therefore my day, as they really have to be seen and experienced. I did take a lot of pictures, which I will eventually put online. I think I will make a special post where I organize all the pictures I took on these 2 week excursion when I get back to Tokyo.

Anyway, tomorrow we intend to go to the Imperial Palace and Garden and to Kyoto Station area...maybe. I feel I should mention here something that really striked me when we got to Kyoto, that is more obvious now in contrast to the buses we have been taking. This is the only city I have ever been too where all the passengers will line up, two-by-two, and calmly wait to access the train. This phenomena does not happen on the buses, but is still rather impressive and worth mentioning. Sorry, moving on, tomorrow we also need to register for classes, and I hope to eat at one of the hotel's two breakfast options. Then, that evening, we move on to Hiroshima! I am pretty excited, and shocked out how fast it all is going. Oh well, I am just as anxious to get back to school as I am to continue this trip, really. It is a very nice place to be.

As a kind of side-note, since I have all of my grades from first semester back I will probably start writing a basic summation of my thoughts from my first semester at Waseda. Since my posts are currently focusing on my experiences on this trip, I will likely wait a little while before posting anything about that. Just figured I should mention that I will be doing that post, it has only been postponed and not cancelled.

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