Published: April 6th 2007April 6th 2007
Day 9 - we left Takayama early and caught the train for Kyoto, (where we got off at the wrong stop and jumped back on in the nick of time). The transport here is excellent though (if you pay attention!), the trains are spacious and always on time (to the nearest session). All of the stations show the name in English and label exits as to which sights you can get to from each. This hasn't stopped us getting a bit confused at times as some of the stations are HUGE but on the whole Japan has been a very easy country to travel around. The rail passes we bought before coming here have been great value and are really easy to use.
When we arrived at our hostel in Kyoto we met up again with Prue and Tiana who had the same plans as us which we were really pleased about as we had such a good time travelling with them in Takayama. Mark somehow managed to lock himself out of his pack - good work numpty! he had to borrow some tools to break into it and then buy a new lock - this time with a
Yes im in!!!!!!!
key - lets hope he doesn't lose it!
We all left the hostel and headed to Gion where we managed to get tickets (all be it of the second class variety) to the Geisha dances, Miyako Odori. We were lucky to be able to see this as it's only on during April so it was good timing on our part. We were sat on the third floor of the theatre on tatami matting but the view was still great. It was a fantastic exerience of traditional Japanese culture. After the show we started the Y100 geisha stalking challenge with the prize money going to the first of us to spot a geisha around town. despite walking aorund Gion and the Pontocho Alley area where their are a lot of exclusive tea houses or ochayas we never saw a geisha that night but were satisfied that we'd seen enough on the stage earlier that day.
Day 10 - The four of us headed out to visit Kiyomizu Temple to start the day. It's a well known land mark in Kyoto as it is built on stilts into the hillside. It was our favourite temple so far (and there have
been alot!) and the cherry blossom everywhere just made it even more spectacular. As we walked through the small streets on our way to the next sight we actually spotted some Geisha which was great. It's like a Hollywood star has appeared in the street when a Geisha is spotted as all the tourists (including us!) gather around trying to get pictures - papparazzi stylee!
We walked down three-year and two-year streets paying close attention to our footwork as it's said that if you fall down in the these strets you will get three/two years of bad luck. Thankfully we all stayed upright! Next we headed to Maruyama Park to take in the cherry blossom and have some lunch. The cherry blossom is so beautiful and we just can't seem to get enough of it! All of the parks are crammed as it is a time when local people party underneath the blossom.
After a slightmissunderstandingwith our accomodation, we spent the evening watching some crazy japanese TV (yes what you see on Tarrant is real) where five men dressed as bugs were trying to leap over a vaulting box that by the end of the show was over
3m long. The language barrier disappeared as we laughed at the physical humour of people dressed in lycra crashing into a box and falling over!
Day 11 - We had arranged to meet Prue and Tiana this morning but we missed each other so Mark and I set out together to stroll around the Nanzen-ji and Nanzen-in temples , the first has a massive sanmon (entrance gate) and the second was very small and had a cute little garden with a pond and some large carp hiding in the grasses.
We then walked along the Path of Philosophy - a pathway along the canal. It looked stunning with blossom-laden cherry trees lining both sides of the canal but it wasn't really the right kind of atmosphere to do any philosophisng being very busy. It's so worth coming to Japan in blossom season as it's so beautiful, but the price you pay is that eveywhere that looks beautiful is packed!
At the end of the path was Ginkakuji or the silver pavillion. Its not actually silver as it never received its coating but it still looks lovely sat on a pond within a really pretty garden. This was
our first sight of the raked gravel of the zen style and it also has a large gravel cone - very cool.
After Ginkakuji we travelled across town to Kinkakuji or the Golden pavillion - this was amazing, the top two tiers of the pavillion are entirely covered in Gold leaf and it glimmers when the sun shines on it - which thankfully it did whilst we were there.
Heading to the bus stop we were surprised to bump into Tiana waiting for the bus. We were so pleased to catch up with her and Prue as we've had a great time seeing the sights with them over the past few days. We went back to the hostel for some tea and then met up with some other people from the hostel to go out for a kareoke night - something we were determined to do in Japan. We downed a rather nasty bottle of sake before leaving the hostel for a kareoke bar recommended to us by a receptionist at the hostel that had a drink all you like in the price deal for a 2 hour singing session! We all made the most of the drink
all you like element and sang our hearts out whilst dancing on the seats of our little room. You'll be pleased to know we did some classic Bon Jovi tracks in amongst the rest of the cheese that we sang! The time went so quick we could have stayed for twice as long but we aimed for the hostel instead, stopping at a bar on the way that had a beer drinking dog sat on the bar. Mark won a free beer (as if he needed it) from the barman in a beer mat flipping challenge (knew it would come in useful one day). We left Prue and Tiana to head back to their hostel and are planning to meet up with them in Oz later in the year - if you're reading this, we had a fab time meeting and travelling with you guys!
Day 12 - We had planned to go to Nara today to check out some temples but we felt a little templed out and worried that we might end up merging all our temple experiences into one if we saw more today. We also had some boring stuff to do like catch up with
washing, burn photos to CDs, book hostels, plan the next few days (and get over our hangovers) etc. so we stuck around the hostel for the morning and then went out to the Inari shrine where there are hundreds and hundreds of red Torii lined up all over the hillside. It was amazing.
After a great stroll around the area (see pics) we took up a challenge from our Auzzie travelling chums - to find a Torii 'phone bling' that had evaded them on their trip to the shrine, (for the olds reading - phone bling is a charm that you hang off your mobile - something that is massive in Japan!) I am glad to say that we met our challenge with resounding success and have promised to deliver the precious item to Prue and Tiana when we meet up again in Oz! Dont get too excited girls but we have uploaded a cheeky preview of your prized phone bling!
On the way back to the hostel we stopped at the skygarden in the station to look out over Kyoto before a quiet night in the hostel.
Thanks for all of your messages folks - its great
to hear from you, we miss you all loads!
Love C and M x
There are more photos below