I’ll probably regret it, but even though I had intended to go see the Gion Matsuri festival parade this morning (it’s the biggest and most famous festival in Kyoto, not to mention Japan), I chickened out and did some last-minute sightseeing instead. It also probably had something to do with the fact that it was pouring with rain and did so pretty much all day.
I for sure wanted to see the world famous Golden Pavilion at the Kinkakuji shrine—and it was truly amazing. Even through the constant downpour, it is truly majestic. The current structure is a 1950’s rebuild—the original was burnt to the ground in 1950 by a crazed monk. The grounds were beautiful but damp, and I also took the opportunity to shell out $5.00 for a cup of Green Matcha and a tiny sugar cake—Tea Ceremony style—at a little tea house on the grounds; I was paying for the experience and it was really relaxing and beautiful.
Since I was riding on an all-day bus pass, I decided to just grab the first bus and see what major sight it went to. Turns out it was the Nijo-jo (which means “Two Castle Castle”) which was the modest little home built by the Tokugawa shoguns as their seat of power when visiting the Imperial Capital. The palace was amazing, and I only wish I had some photos, but taking pictures wasn’t allowed inside (so you’ll have to see the guidebook I bought). I did take tons of photos of the castle grounds and the outside of the buildings—not to mention some absolutely stunning gardens. It would have been better without the rain, but that’s life—I’ll just have to come back someday!
So there we are—all caught up on journal entries. I’ve been doing laundry and am starting to get things packed and my room cleaned. Tomorrow I leave Kyoto behind and am off to Tokyo for the rest of my time in Japan. I’m not sure yet about where or how often I’ll get internet access while there, but will try my best to keep current. I’m also planning additional side trips to places like Nikko and Kamakura—and maybe even Tokyo Disneyland—and am sure you’ll want to see photos and hear about those places too. And let’s not forget what promises to be very interesting: observing life in the world’s largest megalopolis—Tokyo! I may even have time in the evenings to get in one last audio podcast or perhaps even a quickly edited video up on this website. We’ll see how it goes…