Too Many Temples

Thu, 01 May 2008 00:01:10 +0000

Kyoto Index Osaka

A problem with Japan is that I don't have much time and I have no idea where to start. I'm sure that whenever I compare notes with anyone who's visited Japan, I'm going to be met with a chorus of "I can't believe you didn't see..."s. I'm pretty much just picking random paragraphs out of Wikitravel. Today, I decided to peer in at the various temples around Kitaoji. There are at least four of them, so this represents a serious overdose on Japanese temples.

First up was Kinkaku-Ji, famous for its golden temple. It's way gold:

It was the gardens that really appealed to me though.

Next was Ryoan-ji, famous for its zen garden. White gravel, with a few mossy rocks positioned at cosmically significant places. You're supposed to meditate on the rocks and draw your own meaning from their placement. I took a couple of photographs and moved on. Rocks or no rocks, I prefer meditating somewhere without a crowd of Japanese tourists photographing each other.

Third was Ninnaji, quite a large complex with plenty to wander around and gawk at. The five-story pagoda is the headliner, but I've already seen one of those. It was this big orange thing that stuck out for me.

And finally Daitokuji, which, let's face it, by this stage was just yet another bloody temple complex. I mean, it's beautiful, but that's the fourth one for the morning.

I got lunch from the vast food-shopping area around Kyoto central station. A sushi roll, some inari sushi, a deep-fried vegetable thing, and a sort of white bean pancake thing. I love every kind of sweet bean thing. Can't get enough. The inari sushi was gorgeous too: sweet, but with quite a lot of wasabi.

For the afternoon, I decided to low-brow things a bit by going to the macaque monkey park at Arashiyama. It's an interesting riverside park area, full of tourists wandering around not doing much. The monkey park is as you'd expect: a largish troop of very tame monkeys begging for peanuts with a bored "I do this all day every day" manner. But monkeys are, nevertheless, very cool.

I also bought some green tea ice cream. It was OK, but it would be better if it didn't taste of green tea. Come to that, that was pretty much my reaction to the one bottle of green tea I rashly bought when I first landed in Tokyo.

With what I consider a reasonably full day behind me, I retreated to the hostel to collect my bags. It's only 20 minutes by bullet train to Osaka, so I decided to spend the night there. Catching the train was really easy, and I made it to the Shin-Osaka hostel before I knew where I was. This hostel is brand new and lodged at the top of a 10 story building. Very nice. Unfortunately the wireless internet doesn't work nearly as well as it should. I assume they have some kind of weird firewall or proxy going on, because the web works fine, but ssh is dog slow. That means I can't post blog entries, which is annoying.

For dinner I went to a cheap-looking place on the way. I ordered something that looked interesting: it turned out to basically be chicken nuggets. There were some weird accompaniments though, and some pickled ginger, so not a complete loss. I also bought myself a refreshing lemon drink, which turned out to be 6% alcohol. Oh well, these things will happen. And a truly bizarre brown sweet gelatinous thing.

Tomorrow I'll do some laid-back touristing in Osaka, but probably not a lot. I'll also take care not to get horrendously sunburned like I did today. I really have to remember that it's spring, and there's sun now.

Kyoto Index Osaka