Monday morning we caught the Shinkansen out of Shinagawa Station. Our destination was Kyoto. The trip took about 2.5 hours.
Yet again, I was giddy with excitement as we waited to board.
Most of the marquees in the trains stations and on the trains flip between Japanese and English. This is especially helpful when you don’t speak (or read) the language and you need to make sure you are about to get on the right train. No one is checking your ticket as you board the train. Therefore, the important task of getting on the right train is the responsibility of the passenger. It’s also important because the tickets issued are for a specific train. This is different than taking the local trains. Those you can ride whenever and if you get on the wrong one it’s easy to switch at the next stop in 2-3 minutes. The Shinkansen less forgiving. If you get on the wrong one you may not stop for 25-30 minutes. That’s a long way in the wrong direction with the wrong ticket. Our train was at 10:40. The 509. Anyways, we made it no problem and with much excitement. Plus, we had a view of Mt. Fuji sling the way!
Upon arriving in Kyoto, we took our luggage to our hotel. It was still too early to check in, but we had temples to chase. First on our list was the Kinkaku – The Golden Pavilion. The clear skies and afternoon sun created perfect lighting for our visit. Gold foil covers the upper two levels of the Pavilion. On top of the structure is a shining gold phoenix.
The Gardens were beautiful. We were able to catch a few views of the temple from different angles. The benefit of it not being spring and having full foliage.
Lots of prayer cards!
After leaving the Golden Temple, we hailed a cab to the Ginkaku-ji Temple or the Silver Temple.
When Dave and I planned our trip in August, Manami suggested we visit the Silver Temple. We didn’t make it because it is more remote and off the beaten path. When I mentioned to Manami, Cindy and I were visiting Kyoto, she said, “Julia, please be sure to visit the Silver temple this trip.” Ok! I am so glad I listened. The Silver Temple and the gardens are incredibly serene. It definitely moved into my top five favorite Temples. I would love to live close to the temple and visit frequently. The moss covered ground and curving pathways are perfect for a walking meditation. So much zen.
Near the main structure was a sand garden and large sand structure. The large sand structure symbolizes Mt. Fuji. Just to be clear, the large structure that looks like a stone, is actually sand!
The sand garden was really cool.
By the time we were leaving the Silver Temple, we didn’t have enough time to make it to another one that afternoon. So, we had a cream puff and shopped.
We made our way back to the hotel and checked in. I’m happy to share, our room is directly across from the Kyoto Station. We can watch and hear the trains. My favorite of course are seeing the numerous Shinkansen trains! That entire building is Kyoto Station.
We set out for dinner. We went to Kyoto Station to explore the dining options. Kyoto Station is ginormous. Lots of food and shopping. After dinner, we visited the Kyoto Tower. The night view was lovely.
Kyoto Tower was built in 1964. The tower is 430 feet tall. It is built on top of a building. The 800 tons of weight doesn’t affect the building that serves as its foundation because of the ingenious design. It has the design and appearance of a lighthouse. Kyoto Tower was built in the city center as a beacon for industry, culture, and tourism.
As we walked back to our hotel, we could see the reflection of Kyoto Tower in the glass of Kyoto Station.
We had a great start to our first afternoon in Kyoto. Tuesday we will work our way south to visit another famous Shrine and the city of Nara. Cindy’s Japan adventures continue!