The shinkansen (bullet train) whizzed us across from Yokohama, although no one told us that there isn’t any space for luggage, which you need to tuck under your legs somewhere. Very polite assistants offer ice cream, including the green tea option, which you have to judge carefully to make sure it’s eaten and the rubbish deposed of before you exit the train during its two second station stop.
Yakisoba noodles, tempura bits and a spicy beef onion dish in the Nishiki market. The place chosen for its cold beer advert, which after five hours of shrine stomping was a priority. Fortunately they brought Terry’s LV bag we left behind to us, and Terry found the 5,000 Yen note that I dropped on my way out.
The golden temple (Kinkakuji) was regal, its pond setting majestic. A bit ‘over the top’ sort of ostentatious, as apposed to the beautiful water lilies, bridges and pagoda at the Ryoanji Temple. Renowned for its stone garden, its a world of wonder. Dragons on screens, waiting to be woken. Gold fish shimmering in a patch of sunlight slanting through the delicate maple leaves, and water lilies inspiring Monet paintings.
We have found the secret to choosing the local supermarket. Find the spot that has a zillion bicycles outside, with their very own policeman to direct the flow. If you can get past the scary little old ladies who will kill you in a heartbeat if you are in their way, there is an Aladdin’s cave of options. Salmon and tuna sashimi, as well as prawn tempura, was where we stopped for our dinner.
Ladies in kimonos are, as promised in the guide books, seen on the streets, and although the drink looking over the river Kamo can be skipped (Supposedly one of the unforgettable things in Kayoto) the walk along the street leading to the famous area of Kiyamachi Dori Street is special.
Heian Jingu Shrine, are “Vermillion lacquered buildings that flourish from season to season”. A complex of buildings, surrounded by gardens and ponds with irises and water lilies creating multiple reflections. The pathways are swept in a herringbone pattern and at each turning there is another view through to a stone lantern, maple tree or building. A covered wooden bridge crosses the main pond, which has islands strategically positioned to give scale to the view. Amazing and well worth getting lost for. I missed the stop and we needed an additional 20 minute walk.
In vain, we searched for the fabled roaring dragons of Kayoto. A taxi ride across to one of the five great Zen temples in Kyoto, Shokoku-Ji, where the dragon has its lair, came to nothing. The building is closed for renovations, leaving us stranded with only a bad poster rendition of the dragon. Lunch alongside a pretty stream, some consolation.