Today I went on an all-day excursion around Kyoto with Theo. He’d somehow gotten lost earlier trying to find Nijo-jo, so I told him I’d go with him to make sure he saw it. It was OK in the morning, but of course got hotter and sweatier as the day wore on.
First stop was the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds. The place is huge! Unfortunately, you can’t actually get in to see the palaces themselves without a pre-book reservation which we didn’t have. As gigantic as the place was, we only managed to walk through about 1/3 of it. I need to come back and visit again.
Next up was Nijo-jo castle—an absolutely spectacular palace. When I came here in ’06, it was pouring rain, so it was a bit different seeing everything in sunlight. The place was every bit as spectacular as I remember it being. It’s famous for the incredible gold-painted interiors (that you can’t photograph) and for the “Nightingale Floors” which make a pleasing chirping sound now, but are there to warn of sneaky Ninja attacks.
Afterwards, we were off to Arashiyama to see the famous bridge over the river and visit the Monkey park. After a tasty lunch in an AIR CONDITIONED restaurant (I had Somen cold noodles), we first visited the famous Zen buddhist temple of Zenryou-ji to see the amazing gardens and bamboo forest there. The heat and humidity were stifling, but it was worth it—I’d sure love to see the garden in the Autumn when all the leaves change color.
The final act of the trip was a jaunt to the Monkey Park. “Jaunt” is probably not a particularly accurate word, since you’ve got to hike up a friggin’ mountain to get there (which you really can’t see until after you’ve paid your ¥500 to get in). I just about died on the way up, but persevered. It ended up being worth it for three reasons: First, you could get up really close to the wild monkeys and get your photos taken with them; second, there was the most spectacular view of the city of Kyoto I’ve ever seen; and third, I got to imitate a Monkey with a little 5-year old boy (which he and I will probably remember for quite a while).
We split up in the afternoon, and I went back to relax, work on some studying and rest up after the ordeal. There’s just some much to see here, and the more you see, the more you realize there still is left to see—which can be really frustrating…
[NOTE: I was actually really busy and yes, I’ll admit it LAZY, and didn’t get this entry and the next few done until I was packing to go on Friday July 18. I slipped up a lot more than I did last time, but I think I got everything in.]
[NOTE 2: I was ready to upload everything on Saturday during my downtime, but they’d already turned off our internet access at KSU. From here through my whole Hokkaido trip wasn’t uploaded until I got to my Tokyo apartment—ain’t technology great?]