Published: February 14th 2013April 9th 2012
We woke at 7am today after a great sleep in our futons! I love the blankets! We set off early to catch a bus to Kiyonizu temple and were dropped off on the main street and began our walk up the big hill to the temple. It was a warm day and the walk made it hot. Today Is the first day we took out jumpers off! All the small stalls on the walk up to the temple were still setting up so we decided to visit them on the way back down. The temple was founded in 798 and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structre. Amazing! It takes its name from the waterfall within te complex, which rungs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water or pure water. The main temple is a large and old building built on the steep hillside. The balcony hangs over and gives a beautiful view over Kyoto and the surrounding bush land. It was refreshing to be out of the city and to breath some fresh air. We wondered the temple grounds and walking paths. Stopping
at the waterfall to cleanse my mouth as part of the ritual to enter the temple. This waterfall cascaded from the roof and i had to catch the water in a cup on a long stick.
We headed back down the steep hill shopping as we went, buying small souvenirs for friends and family. (out bags are already full! Eek) and we ate a chocolate cream, banana and chocolate cake crepe. Yum! The walk to our next destination was Nijo castle. It was ALOT further than we had anticipated, felt like forever! And with very sore feet we arrived just after lunch time. Drinking grape juice and snacking on rice crackers on the way. Nijo castle is a beautiful old castle where the inside has been left as original. We got to take our shoes off and walk on the very old wooden nightingale floors. They are given this name from the bird chirping/ squeezing noise the floor makes when you walk on it! It was meant to alert the guards of intruders walking through the castle. early day burglar alarm! walking through the building we saw the beautiful golden painted walls and intricate roof decorations.<br style="outline-color: initial; outline-style:
none; outline-width: 0px;" />The gardens were equally as stunning, well manicured bushes and moss gardens by a large pond including a waterfall. After a walk around the inner walls and the palace we exited and headed back to our room.
In the evenng we prepared for dinner and caught a taxi to hanami-koji street. Known for spotting geisha or maiko heading to their 5pm appointments in the private tea houses. We wandered the beautiful old streets and ally ways and eventually we were lucky enough to see two maiko (aprentice geisha) hurrying to their next apointment. Words cant explain how beautiful they were, with traditional hair, makeup and intricate Kimonos. I considered taking a photo but decided it was best not to harrass them and to just admire them whilst i could and let them carry on. I love this area of japan! It’s like stepping back in time :) We stumbled on a large temple during our walk and had a quick look. One street we found was absolutely stunning and one of the highlights of Japan for me. It was by a canal and lined with cherry blossoms in full bloom,
with a backdrop of old wooden Japanese houses and tea houses, we took pictures on the little bridge and of the small shrine nearby. It was absolutely picturesque. By the time we were done it was dinner time! And we decided we wanted to eat somewhere properly and found another restaurant on Pontocho dori. We were greeted at the entrance and were instructed to remove our shoes. We were given a ticket for our shoes and they were taken away (japanese valet lol) We then made our way up the wooden stairs and into the dim litted tatami floored room. We were seated at a floor style table with cushions to sit on. There was no service fee here however instead it was compolsory that you buy atleast one drink each. we ordered plum wine, one hard and one soft to try ,an assorted entrees, a main of pork and beef and a chicken on rice soup. First to come our was our complimentary tofu. It was spongy in texture but delicious! Next was our entrees. Wow! All the different components were placed together in a way that was quite aesthetically pleasing. There
was soft tofu with salmon row, seaweed shredded, sweet egg, pork, chicken ball, potato ball and a sticky rice ball. A shredded mushroom wrapped in savory egg and two tiny squids with a hot mustard. All the flavours were so different yet complimentary and subtle. Nice! Our mains, the pork and beef were next. I tried the pork first. Wow what an explosion of flavour! It was grilled perfectly and the sauce was so nice. Danels beef came with three sauces, ginger, garlic and sweet soy. The steak was so juicy and tender, cooked perfectly and cut into small pieces perfect to dip into the sauce with chop sticks. The rice was last to arrive in a big hit pot where the soupy chicken and vegetables were poured over the top. It sizzled and bubbled, the aroma indescribable. The rice was perfect for absorbing up the soup and we ate it with large wooden spoons. So tasty, warm and comforting.Full up we asked for the bill and our shoes were waiting for us at the entry. We had such
a great night! We decided to continue drinking a bought a 500ml carton of plum wine at the convenient store and asked for some ice to be delivered to our room. After a few drinks we felt confident to try our baths. (plus we were in need of one after walking around all day) we parted ways in the hall entrance to the male and female baths. I entered the female bath to find one Japanese woman already in the bath. I stripped down in the change room and placed my belongings and towel in the basket provided. I walked into the bath room and was greeted by the bathing woman. I sat on the stool provided, by one of the many hand held shower heads around the room and rinsed my body before hopping into the very large and very hot bath. It was so nice on my aching muscles and sore feet and was great so be in a bath big enough to stretch out in! (the hotel baths were half the length of a standard bath at home) After 5 mins I hopped out to lather myself up and wash my hair before rinsing thoroughly and returning
to the bath for one more soak. I returned back to the room to find Danel waiting. He found the water too hot to enjoy but I loved it! Bed felt so good after a hot bath, a cant wait to have another one tomorrow night!
There are more photos below