SOLO JAPAN 3.-16.11.2002.
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Thursday, 7th of November 2002

Day Five :
Path of philosophy

Choosing a location to visit

After a night of little sleep and serious thinking should I switch to another accommodation just that I wouldn't have to listen to a heavy snorer, I washed the bad experience away with a shower and morning television.

Now I would have to decide where I should go and this turned out to be a problem, as Kyoto had a monstrous amount of places to see (I'm not kidding here). So after browsing through a travel guide, I decided to check out the temples and shrines along the "path of Philosophy" (tetsugaku-no-michi) in East-Kyoto.

Once I had quickly checked my e-mail (there was a minute charge for using the computer), I marched to the tourist information center located right below the Kyoto Tower and grabbed a tourist map of the chosen area for today.

Kyoto bus ride experience

Since the map recommended taking a bus to get there, I went to the bus terminal in front of the train station and joined a waiting line at the right bus stop (the Japanese always form a waiting line no matter is the bus/train present or not).

When the bus came, the people entered it from the back door instead of the front. As I stepped in, I had to pick up a slip of paper that had a number on it. In the front end of the bus there was a led-display that showed the fee each number holder would have to pay. The longer you stayed on the bus, the higher the fees went.

The bus was very crowded and the bus itself was totally at the mercy of traffic jams, but after a while the bus reached the bus stop I wanted to get off. Knowing when to get off was easy thanks to another led-display that showed the next bus stop in English. I paid the amount required to the bus driver and left the bus through the front door.

Tourist season at Kyoto

After asking directions, I found the path of philosophy and visited the Ginkaku-ji temple, which was invaded by other tourists (Japanese and foreign) and high school student groups. It was obvious everyone knew that autumn would be the perfect time to visit Kyoto, thanks to the clear weather and colourful maple leaves.

The temple area was however worth seeing. The stone garden, the short mountain slope path near the national treasure Kannonden and the Toougudoo buildings gave that touch of the old Japan the urban side of Kyoto doesn't even try to deliver.

Unfortunately, the "path of philosophy" didn't feel worth its name as the leaves had already fallen from the cherry trees, but the old buildings close by where nice to look at. I bet walking around here during the cherry blossom would be a whole different story.

A small idyllic shrine

My next stop was the Nyakuori Shrine (I wonder how many of you remember these names after two minutes, not me anyway :-). Now before people get excited what kind of grand history this shrine has, I will have to say - according to travel guides - it is "just" a shrine.

Anyway, I took a breather there and bought something to drink from a vending machine (they are everywhere). I was expecting to get a cold soda drink, but it turned out to be a hot can of coffee. Damn, I don't drink coffee, but I guess I'll have to make an exception here.

While taking a rest, I observed how some elderly Japanese people entered the shrine and did a prayer. First they throw a coin into a box in front of the hall, clap their hands twice to get the Gods' attention and make a prayer. Some of them also rang a big bell hanging under the shrine's roof. This would be something I would see the Japanese do almost as compulsory in any temple or shrine I've visited.

Temple overdose

The next temple area was the Zenrin-ji temple which had a great display of autumn colours. Then came the Nanzen-ji temple with its various subtemples surrounding it (civil war destroyed most of them in the 15th century, present ones date from the 17th century).

The sheer volume of temples towards the end of the day started to feel a bit repeative, so I skipped one other major temple area so I could see something different before sunset.

I ended up at the Heian-shrine, which actually didn't have a history of being built some thousand years ago, burned down in some fire, built again, burned down again in some civil war and built again in a smaller scale.

No, this was built as recent as 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. It was however a replica of the Imperial Court Palace of the Heian period (794-1185). The replica was also in a smaller scale of the original, but nonetheless it was beautiful (although it comes down to a matter of taste).

Calling it a day

The sun was setting, so I decided to call it a day and took a bus back to Kyoto station. I picked up something to eat from a convenience store before returning to Club Tour. There I had a microwave oven dinner, exchanged experiences of today's happenings and watched some terrible tv programs.

During the evening I also flipped through the pages of "Kansai scene" looking for some live music acts. To my surprise, it had separate articles of Japanese noise artist Keiji Haino and Finnish progressive saxophonist Jorma Tapio, whom I both saw just six nights ago in Helsinki! But the interesting live dates didn't come from them, but from Shonen Knife and Sex Machineguns.

Hmm, I thought Shonen Knife called it quits a few years ago, but it looks like I was wrong. Their music isn't exactly "professional", but it's a legendary band. I will have to check them out, as they will perform here at Kyoto four days later.

I happen to know Sex Machineguns, which is a quite popular Japanese heavy-metal band (domestic wise). I would definitely have to see these guys, which would be the day after tomorrow.

Then it was bed time and so I went to sleep, this time with earplugs. Peace and quiet secured!

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Photo copyright Ude
Hmm, lots of tourists and high school students. I sense a tourist area here!

Photo copyright Ude
First check point in the East-Kyoto walking tour. The Ginkaku-ji temple.

Photo copyright Ude
This wasn't a shrine of huge importance, but it looked nice.

Photo copyright Ude
A monk collecting alms.

Photo copyright Ude
Brilliant display of autumn colours close to the Zenrin-ji temple.

Photo copyright Ude
The entrance gate to the Heian shrine.

Heian shrine - The shrine built in 1895 to celebrate the 1,100th anniversary of Kyoto.
Kansai scene - The website for the magazine I searched for live band dates.
Copyright 2003-2023 © , second edition. Latest minor update 30th of January 2023 (fixed and deleted a LOT of broken links)
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