Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 3

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Kyoto - Day 1& 2 / 03     |     Jump To - Day 04 / 05 / 06 /07
               Footsteps - Jotaro's Travels                   
Japan (Osaka & Kyoto) May 5th to 11th 2012
Kyoto Tower

Day 3 - Kyoto (7th May 2012)

After a good night's and really sound sleep, we were ready for another day's adventure. Woohoo! But today we will be going for a 5-hr guided off-the-beaten-track walking tour of Kyoto downtown district. More walking! (Sigh...)

We grab a cab & proceeded to the Kyoto Staion, just opposite the Kyoto Tower landmark. Being early we had a quick breakfast in an Italian restaurant at the Station, and also bought some sandwiches (the tour did not provide for lunch).
Having filled our tummies, we waited at the designated place to start the Johnny Walker's Tour. It is a 5-hr 3-km walking tour. No reservations required, just wait at the designated spot, the tour starts at 10:15am. No worries the Japanese are punctual to the dot! And cheap! - at USD20 per head.

Johnny Walker's Tour Map

Johnny Walker's Walking Tour 

Catchy name isn't it? But it has nothing to do with whiskey. Johnny Walker is actually Hajime Hirooka-san, a Japanese (Ok. ok. Maybe he does drink whiskey and I got his name wrong - it's Johnny Hillwalker; the whiskey got to me too!). But a bit of a disappointment though, we were met by Amie-san, a Japanese lady, and not Mr. Walker himself. Anyway, Amie turn out to be a sweet lady, so no loss there. We were given an A-4 photo-stated iternirary (Well, it's a budget tour!).

Higashi Hongan-ji Temple
1st Stop : Higashi Hongan-ji Temple
We went through an underground pedestrian tunnel and came up to - Viola! The Higashi Hongan-Ji is a Buddhist temple with beautiful roofs and an ornate timber structure. It sits on a large temple ground in central Kyoto.
Shinto Gate

In Japan, most temples are either Buddhist or Shinto. The Shinto temples are easily identified by their distinctive Torii (Shinto arch gates).

Interlude - Japanese Bowing
At one of the assembly area in the Temple, Amie-san brief us on a couple of Japanese customs. Why do most Japanese show the V-sign when having their photos taken? Apparently one of the famous base-ball stars showed it and it has been a craze since then. 
But more interesting was her brief on Japanese etiquette on bowing. A 5-10 degree tilt for ordinary "Hello". 30-45 for respectful greeting of elders. A 90-degree bow means "I am sincerely very, very sorry" (No hara-kiri nowadays after this one). 
More than 90? Well, that person is exercising! Haha! Got you there! (Just as Amie-san got us).

Workers At Fan Factory
2nd Stop : Fan Shop & Canister Factory
Next, we stopped at a renown fan-shop, Kyosendo, with workers making these sensu (holding fans)  in the back-rooms. We found visits to these cottage industry more interesting than the temples. It was a peek into Japanese culture. Unfortunately, most of the workers were elderly. Seems like this cottage industry, like many in other parts of the world is a dying trade.

Brass Tea Canisters
After that, it was to Kaidado - a small Japanese tea canister factory. Amie-san explained that the covers of good canisters will slowly sink down, now pushing required! Unfortunately, we could only view from outside, through the shop-front glazing.

Ayako Temangu Shrine
This was followed by some not-too-memorable sites, such as the Ayako Temangu Shrine,  the Renkoji Temple, a pottery cottage factory (again viewing from outside) and a small grave-yard at Chokodo Temple.

Aerial View of Kyoto embossed on floor tiles
We had a short break and welcomed rest at one of the community centers (Phew!). There was an interesting aerial view of Kyoto embossed onto floor tiles at one corner of the ground floor. 
After that the tour continued and even passed by the game designer Nintendo original factory. We were just shown a wall-mounted placard, Nintendo having become successful had shifted to bigger premises.

Japanese Mochi
3rd Stop : Japnese Mochi Factory
This was an interesting stop - the renowned Kyoto Japnese Mochi. We sampled these with ocha (Japanese Green Tea) to wash down the sweetness. A note to those who want to purchase these - buy those with shorter expiry dates (7-10days) as they do not contain preservatives.

Geometric Gateways
Final Stop : Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
After the long march, this temple with its lush, serene greenery was a welcomed finale. Although called a shrine Fushimi Inari is a large temple dedicated to another sect of Shinto, this one with distinct orange toriis.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu Temple viewed from annex building.
Having finished the sandwiches for lunch (we have learnt to be spartan like the Japanese), it was to the Kiyomize Temple. The temple is located on the eastern outskirts of Kyoto and sits on a lush-green,hill slope, affording one a magnificent view of Kyoto.

The gang at Kiyomizu's entrance

Landscaped Grounds at Kiyomizu
Walking around the ample, green grounds of the temple, our tired feet (from Johnny Walker's walk) were soon a thing of the past. Somehow we felt serene and eager to see more.

Fountain Shrine at Kiyomizu
There is even a shrine with natural stream water coming out for drinking per the Shinto Custom.

Going through Shinto Ritual of drinking water
We joined the long queue and drank in some blessings too.

After this long day, we made our way back to Kawaramachi and had dinner at our favorite ramen shop (the one with the runny yolk which Marina liked).

Me and Cheong went back to the hotel to conk off. The girls, being girls - got a second wind of strength - went shopping!

Related Blogs :

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 1 & 2

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 4

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 5

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 6

Japan : Kyoto/Osaka - Day 7

You may also be interested in :

China-Yunnan Day 1

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / Footsteps / Kyoto - Day 1& 2 / 03     |     Jump To - Day 04 / 05 / 06 /07
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