Day Two – Osaka. Exploring Kyoto

June 21, 2016

O what a day. Already it seems like we’ve been here for much longer than a day, with the boys making the most of every minute. Today was a day of old Japan, in one of it’s oldest cities – temples, castles, winding streets and narrow stairs.

We started with breakfast at the guest house, with our generous hosts keeping us company over eggs and toast (and chocolate sauce?!). We headed across the road to the nearest temple – just across the road – the Higashi Honganji Temple. Featuring impressive collonades, the sizeable temple featured rope made of human hair (volunteered by passionate devotees) and miniatures showing the difficulty in building the centuries old temple.

With our new bus passes, we headed North to the UNESCO listed Nijo Castle. Imposing and complex, the castle was a prime example of intricate feudal archetecture. The boys were drawn to the many defensive features – closets for the Shogun’s bodyguards to hide in when receiving guests and squeaking floorboards to alert residents to the presence of ninjas. Elaborate paintings in each room depicted the kinds of guests allowed in each – some visitors allowed only as far as the outer halls, out of sight of the Shogun, with his inner circle, advisors and handservants hosted in the more elevated central rooms. This also marked the beginning of the language adventures in ordering food, the ice-creams with golden leaf and chocolate proving a big hit.

Now steadily on the gold train, we moved North to the iconic Golden Pavilion, or Kinkaku-ji Temple. This immaculate temple sits atop a small lake, mountain in the background and covered in gold. The Ballarat crowd felt right at home it’s easy to say. The picturesque temple was certainly a highlight, as were the opportunities to garner good luck by tossing 1yen coins into waiting bowls.

Next up was the spectacular Pure Water Temple, or Kiyomizudera Temple. In the South-East of the city, this temple sits on the side of a mountain buoyed by huge wooden supports. The main hall is elevated 13 metres above the land beneath, offering a spectacular view of not only Kyoto but the beautiful cherry and maple trees surrounding it. Originally built as a shrine to the pure waters flowing from the great waterfall, it now plays host to pilgrims and locals alike. Here the boys were able to converse with Japanese students on language excursions, as well as tourists from many a continent! On the lead up to the mountain, a spectacular stretch of small trinket shops catered to all tastes, and doubled as a convenient way of finding cover from the afternoon rains which drenched all and sundry.

Not quite yet tired, we returned to the central station in search of dinner. Here everyone tried yet another new dish (so many to choose from!) and had the opportunity to poke around the oversized department store opposite. The group emerged with soft toys, card games, stationery and even ran into some of SPC’s rugby rivals (rest assured, we felt it unnecessary to embarass them publicly).

After a long day, the guest house is providing not only some nice air conditioned spaces to relax in, but an opportunity for the boys to trade photos and argue about food and language. Tomorrow is another big day so it’s over and out for now.