02.01.2010 - 03.01.2010 14 °C
The guide book suggested a walk that sounded interesting, one which would take me to see most of Kyoto's temples. Well, maybe not most of them, as it has so many, 1600 apparently, but plenty enough for me. I probably should have made a record of what these temples were, as I really have no idea. I started out to the East of Gion - the directions said to take a bus and get off outside a particular noodle shack, then walk up a path, but made no mention of the big temple complex I was faced with. As a result, I yet again had the feeling of being completely lost, yet was exactly where I was supposed to be as the other details given matched.
The instructions said to take a path up a fairly long hill - I was intrigued to find it went along the side of a very tightly packed cemetary:
By the time I got to the top of the path, I'd already seen several temples and was in need of a break - I could see more above me, and two streets running down the other side of the hill, one seemed to have mainly food shops, so I made an executive decision that it was lunch time. I found this tiny wee curry shop, with just the four tables:
It is a little bit obscure, but the thing that had attracted me was that the curry came on its own little burner - it is to the rear in the above photo. Very tasty it was too but, like all Japanese curries, the beef was shredded to the point that it almost merged with the sauce. After lunch, it was back up the hill for some more temples: Oh, joy!
Quite a few people were on the same mission
My joy was compounded by the fact that I had left my guidebook in the curry shop, something I only realised when I was right at the top of the hill. I did dither, thinking maybe it wasn't worth the walk, and that I wouldn't be able to ask for it, as I have no Japanese and there had been no English spoken in the shop. I need not have worried: the girl in the shop recognised me immediately and smiled very graciously when she saw I had come back.
On the way back up, I had to stop - there was a bunch of people clustered around a shop window, and I just had to know what was going on. Turns out it was a cake shop, and people wanted to watch the cakes being made:
Not sure why I didn't try one, anxious to get back to temple examining, I suppose. This is the highest in Kyoto
I have no idea what these were about, but they intrigued me
The walk then became quite formalised, past a fairly large number of shops
Then there were more temples, some very peaceful ones:
At about this point, I became completely lost. I was looking for the Walk of Philosophy, a cherry tree lined path alongside a canal, so named because of one of Japan's most famous philosophers, Nishida Kitaro, who practiced meditation as he walked to work at Kyoto University. Never found it, had no real idea where I was, let alone how to get back to my hotel. Luckily I took off in the right direction, and found myself in Nishiki Market - which is realy a covered street which runs for about six blocks.
It was pretty much closed by the time I got there, which was a shame as I was keen to check out the stall of a fellow who makes knives, Aritsugu, like these:
I did get to go back the next day, only to find that his shop was not even open during the holidays. This was not my only regret about Kyoto - on my last day there, after my exhausting walk around all the temples, I discovered all these little laneways near the Nishiki Market which had interesting and very cool looking little shops and cafes. Might need to go back.