A 15 minute walk away from the Golden Pav is the Ryōan-ji Temple with its microcosmic version of the Japan archipeligo, in raked sand.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted suprisingly by 4 brash English voices bearing Aussie accents. Civilised colleagues come to experience a different world culture? No, it was (from our estimations), young probably rich kids probably over here on mummy & daddy’s gold credit card and making ar*es of themselves and the country they represented.
Oh f, that was the best f-ing temple I’ve ever f-ing seen in my f-ing life. F mate! F Etcetera F.
We stopped talking amongst ourselves lest they detect our same accents and (godhelpus) strike a conversation.
What I did miss out on was the lifetime opportunity of giving back a little of what lowbrowed whitetrash had imparted on my growing up experience. I completely failed to speak up fully and loudly, and tell those prats to p*ss off back to their own country.
Our intention was to visit Inari first and then Nara, but a slight miscalculation in the express-ness of our train landed us at Nara in the early hours.
The park full of bambi was a little bit of a pleasant diversion, as were the multitude of cartoon deer-boy characters. The surprising thing about the temple was the giant buddha inside. How many giant buddhas are there? I know there’re a few in China but this is getting ludicrous! Even more ludicrous (or perhaps portentous for those that way inclined) is the number of times Buddha’s head has fallen clean off after various (not 2011) earthquakes.
We had a small stop along the way to admire a random house with a grand old cherry blossom in the front yard, held up with various bamboo crutches and the flashbulbs of many admirers.
Inari turned out to be surprising also what with the thousands of torii gates at Fushimiinari Taisha Shrine (conveniently located at the exit of the Inari JR Station). I can just imagine the conversation with the subbies: “You wanted 100 gates? I thought you said 10,000!”
We ran out of daylight a third of the way up the mountain of torii gates (which worked out better than had we run out of daylight at Nara) and headed back to the Cube for an interesting Japanese take on spaghetti for dinner.
If it’s Kyoto, then it must be temples. Our first stop of the day was not too far up the road – a small temple called Shoren-in which was a lovely hour’s investigate around this quaint, almost boutique artefact. It was only in retrospect that we realised we enjoyed it so much as the rest of the day’s temples. The Chion-in further south we found to be crowded and harried. There also seemed to be a Buddhist ceremony of some sort on (it’s so hard to tell when you neither speak nor read the language).
The hill gardens of Maruyamacho were strangely deserted. Many blue tarpaulins had been laid out signifying a bagsed position (presumably for upcoming cherry blossom parties). The feeling in the middle of the day was of a carnival that was about to happen. Or had happened. A minor discovery was Shijo Dori, the main street of shopping action in Gion.