Thursday, July 31, 2014

Touring Kyoto

Our Monday in Kyoto started at our ryokan (Japanese inn) with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

We had ordered a western breakfast for Kai, but he didn’t eat much of it.

To see the sights in Kyoto, we made arrangements to have a jumbo taxi take our crew of eight to several of the most notable sights.

First stop was Ryoanji Temple.

Our taxi driver was also a tour guide who provided explanations at each stop (in Japanese, which my wife translated for everyone).

Ryoanji is most famous for its rock garden. There are 15 stones in the garden, though a person can only see 14 of them from any one vantage point. It was planned so only the Supreme Being above can see all 15 stones.

Next is the beautiful golden pavilion, Kinkaku-ji.

Although you can’t tell from the picture, the place was loaded with visitors. And after walking around the grounds, Kai was getting very cranky and wanted a break to use his iPad.

We thought that it would cause too many difficulties for everyone if we tried to get him to see the next sight, Kiyomizu Temple, so we decided to let him stay in the taxi so everyone could take their time to see the spectacular sight.

My wife volunteered to stay back with Kai, but I wanted her to help translate the explanations for my sister, brother-in-law and nephews, so I stayed in the taxi with Kai while they went to see the temple.

Kai was happy to have some quality time on the iPad.

I am glad that he was so content, because we were locked in the taxi (with the air conditioning on) so it would have been a huge problem if he wanted to get out.

It took nearly two hours before the others returned from seeing the temple and nearby charming streets. That was just in the nick of time as Kai had started to get antsy to see Mom and get some lunch.

After lunch, we went to Sanjsangen Temple:

The main attraction there are the 1.001 golden statues inside the temple. Photographs are not allowed inside.

Our next destination was the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine.

Among the features are the foxes that are messengers often found in Inari shrines.

However, the main attraction at Inari are the thousands of torii gates of all sizes that line the path.

It was really spectacular, as the gates seemed to go on forever. We turned around and headed back before reaching the end of the path.

We got back in the taxi and made one more quick stop to see one small part of the Nishi Honganji Temple.

And then we got dropped off at the hotel where would spend this second night in Kyoto. The ryokan was really nice, but expensive, and we wanted to save some money. The rooms at the hotel, though, are very tiny, with barely enough room to spread two suitcases out next to the bed. The bathrooms are equally tiny.

For dinner, we went to spot along the Kamagawa River where we could sit outside and enjoy the ambiance. It was a perfect night for outdoor dining; not as steaming hot as it had been a couple days earlier.

Kai has been handling the sightseeing relatively well, certainly much better than we had feared. Some of the keys to success are always having bottles of water handy when walking around in the hot weather, and giving him access to his iPad.

Though the iPad hasn’t been a complete win. He is hooked on a couple apps that require access to the network, and there has been several times when he wanted “five more minutes” at the hotel to do something before he lost the wifi connection. Or he would get upset if we didn’t come back to the hotel early enough to have a lot of wife time before heading out for dinner. I’ve been tempted to cut off his access to those apps. But I think overall, having the iPad has enabled us to do a lot more than we otherwise would have.


  1. I love that golden pavilion! Wow...that is just gorgeous!

    I agree the iPad has been a good thing....sometimes you just have to do whatever works. He's had a good balance of vacation and electronics time, I think....and the rest of you have been able to enjoy the trip much more than if he was without it. yay! :)

    1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, I guess. :)

  2. I know fully well the heat and humidity of Kyoto (I used to go there off season...anytime but summer). However, those temples are really nice. I also particularly loved the Golden Pavilian.

    I am very gald to hear how well Kai is handling the heat and humidity. Thank goodness for the iPad :)

    One of my favortie spots in Japan was this particular observation platform high in the Rokko mountains in Kobe. I don't know if it is still there (it has been over 30 years since I had gone there). In Nara there was this place where you fed deer by hand in this beautiful park.

    I can hardly wait to go back to Japan. These pictures bring back so many nice memories.

    Kai looks happy. What great memories for him...and for everyone.

    1. Yes, we expected Kyoto to be even warmer, but some rain on the day we arrived had cooled it off a bit (to merely hot instead of unbearably hot), though it had warmed back up by the time we left.

      I knew about the deer at Nara, but the ones at Miyajima surprised me at how they aggressively try to grab food (or bags) right out of your hands.

      Yes, we are building great memories!


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