A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Our hostel street

Golden Pavillion, Kinkakuji Temple

Golden Pavillion

Golden Pavillion

Daitokuji Temple

Daitokuji Temple

Daitokuji Temple

Ninnaji Temple

Temple 1 of 88

On the mini-pilgrimage walk, and some of the mini-temples

Forest trail

Temple 87!

An adventurous day with bus passes today, getting buses all over Kyoto, actually a very large city. Also a very Zen day, at least till we tried to go shopping in downtown Kyoto on a Saturday afternoon, which was a bit of a nightmare after a serene and spiritually uplifting day of temples, Zen gardens and pilgrimage routes.

First we visited the Golden Pavillion at Kinkakuji Temple. This top Japanese tourist attraction was already a bit crowded at 9 in the morning, but was stunning, all covered in gold-leaf and mirrored by the strong sun in the clear waters of its lake, surrounded by Autumn maples. I had expected it to be either a bit tacky, an anti-climax or both, but it was very impressive and beautiful.

Then we moved on to Daitokoji to meditate on the hardcore Zen garden. This involved the usual lots of raked gravel, but thankfully for once not just that, as I for one find those minimalist Zen gardens very dull. Instead there were a series of gardens, packed with symbolism, very nice to look at, and in an incredibly serene atamosphere. Sadly, no cameras allowed. Rain kept us there for longer than planned, but we were happy to go round it all several times, nearer Nirvana each time.

And lastly on to Ninnaji Temple. This is a fine (World Heritage) Temple in its own right, but the main reason we went there was to walk in the hills behind the Temple. There is a trail there with 88 small temples/shrines that is a mini-version of the 6 week pilgrimage around the island of Shinkoku. This was a great walk through forests all over the hills, punctuated every minute or so by another small atmospheric temple. Lovely. You can see why downtown saturday shopping was a shock afterwards!

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