Kyoto is a shrine and temple filled city and it was quite difficult to decide which ones to see and which ones to skip. My friend Michael and my first site for the day, while exploring Kyoto was Nijo Castle. Trust me it sounds better than what it looks. It looked more like a stately home than a castle. It had peaceful gardens with small waterfalls in it that were quite lovely.
Nijo Castle (Nijojo) was built in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Edo Shogunate, as the Kyoto residence for himself and his successors.
It survives in its original form and is famous for its Momoyama architecture with its decorated sliding doors.
The best part of this “castle” was the nightingale floor. It was a floor built for safety to alert the sleeping occupants of intruders. No matter how you walked on it, it sang or squeaked like a nightingale. I had lots of fun testing this out and trying to find a spot that didn’t sing. You would have to be a super light burglar to get by these floors!!
Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) was next on our list. It’s a gold plated temple and looks absolutely magnificent perched on a small island in the middle of a lake.
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) is a Zen temple constructed in 1397 as part of a new residence for the retired shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Kinkakuji was converted into a Zen temple after Yoshimitsu’s death in 1408.
The Golden Pavilion functions as shariden, housing sacred relics of the Buddha and is covered in gold leaf. The upkeep of this temple is surely not cheap and wonder how they prevent people from actually stealing the gold leaf?
Laying my eyes on the temple for the first time,it actually took my breath away for a moment.
We were not allowed to enter the temple which was a bit disappointing, but I figured the most striking part of the temple was its outside.
After grabbing something to eat we headed over to Sanjo where we walked around Yasaka shrine. It is a huge bright orange shrine right next to the road. Its complex is filled with smaller Inari shrines and a huge park.
That evening we did the typical tourist thing in Kyoto and went to a culture show. They had geisha dancing, a kabuki show and a puppet show which was very entertaining.
After the show we stopped at a little bar around the corner for a drink. It was the most expensive drink I have had so far in Japan. 2000 yen = $20 for a glass of orange juice!!
After this I learned to ask the price of a drink or product before I order!