Japan Honeymoon Day 8 – 25 Nov 2008

25 Nov 2008 – Day 8

We went to the Kyoto Imperial Palace to apply for a visit permit. We had tried to apply for the permit online earlier, but there were no vacancies. (We managed to get a visit for the Tokyo Imperial Palace though. This is on the last day just before we leave.) We managed to get the permit for the 2pm tour. While waiting, we visited the Kyoto Imperial Park where the Imperial Palace was located. We then bought lunch from Hotto Motto. Hotto Motto was like a fast food joint which only sold takeaways, so we ate our lunch at the park, under the watchful eyes of two scary cats. They looked so ferocious that PG felt that they would pounce on us anytime.

After lunch we made a quick visit to the Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion). There was an interesting sand model and some beautiful sights.

Then we quickly made our way back for our tour at the Imperial Palace. The tour was a guided one with an English-speaking guide. Finally we could make some sense of the history behind the exhibits. And it was free! 🙂 We were quite drenched after the tour because of the rain, which strangely started as we began the tour, got bigger, then died as we finished the tour.

We found our way out of the Imperial Park and decided to take a bus to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine where there is a Tenjin-san market fair on the same day. While waiting for the bus… there was a parade coming towards the junction. It was led by cheerleaders. CG was excited and stood by with his camera and zoom lens to snap photos.

At the Tenmangu Shrine, the stalls covered the path to the way to the shrine. There were mainly food stalls and a few game stalls. We had a quick tour of the place before heading back to the bus-stop to take a bus to the Kikakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion). Lonely planet recommended going around sunset and sunset was around 5pm!

In case you are wondering… Kyoto is best explored by bus, especially if you are visiting all the shrines / temples. The buses offer a more direct route and stop much closer to the shrines and temples. (Yes, there is a difference between shrines and temples too!) The subways in Kyoto are operated by different operators and the subway pass only allows travel on 2 of the lines. There is also a bus/subway combined pass which might have allowed travel on the other subway lines as well, but we did not buy that.

The Ginkakuji Temple, like its name implies, is golden in colour and extremely beautiful especially when the light from the setting sun reflects off the exterior. The interior, unfortunately, is not open to visitors. We can only read about it in the brochure. Although quite some way from the main city centre, it was definitely worth it. It helped too that the Tenmangu Shrine was quite near.

It was dark by the time we finished our tour of the place. PG did her usual stop at the souvenir shop while CG took photos of the vending machines outside. There are not only vending machines for drinks and cigarettes, but also for ice cream! Sometimes, the drinks at the vending machines are cheaper than the shops (7-eleven type) too!

It was a long bus ride back to the central area. We have to switch buses 3 times because (1) CG got tired of taking the long and slow bus to Kyoto station for a subway to the city centre (2) We did realise that our subway pass was not valid for the other subway lines (3) CG was too lazy to check the detailed bus map as it was just down a straight road.

Dinner for the day was at this restaurant just outside Daimaru. We chose the place because it looked quite packed when we walked pass while exploring the area. Once inside, the waiters and waitresses starting speaking to us in Japanese and gave us a menu without pictures! We tried desperately to figure out the menu, but when the waitress came to take our order in Japanese (if she came for other reasons, we wouldn’t know either), we could only reply “English?”

When she went to get us an English menu and an English speaking colleague to serve us, her colleague seemed to respond to her “but they seem to be reading the Japanese menu”. Well, looks like we seem convincing enough as long as we don’t have to speak 🙂 PG did all the ordering. We even ordered sashimi which was only in the Japanese menu.

After dinner, we took another bus (making full use of our one-day bus pass) to the Gion area. We also visited the nearby Yasaka Shrine. There were some English walking tours, so we could listen in and learn more about the place!

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