Woke up around 5am to get ready for Kyoto. Had to board the Shinkansen at Shinagawa. So, around 6am started walking to the local metro station and finally reached Shinagawa at 7am. They changed the timing from 07:10 am to 7:17am for my convenience and headed back to the platform. Couple of bullet train passed by and got few quick shots. Exactly at 7:17 I got in the Shinkansen and reached Kyoto around 9:20 or something. Well, I walked here and there asking what the best route was to see different places. Anyways, I got to the tourist information center, by then I had lot of pamphlets on what all ways to travel. The cheapest I felt was bike (bicycle), but I was wrong as I learnt the best way to travel is by bus. A 500 yen one day pass will allow you to board some of the city bus heading to many temple areas. Figuring out how it all work was a hassle as I don’t understand the language. Anyways, it was fun figuring out that. Finally I was in a long queue for bus and I think 30 minutes in the queue got me in a bus heading towards Ginkakuji temple.
Ginkaku-ji (銀閣寺, lit. “Temple of the Silver Pavilion”), officially named Jishō-ji (慈照寺, lit. “Temple of Shining Mercy”), is a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto, Japan. It is one of the constructions that represents the Higashiyama Culture of the Muromachi period.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa initiated plans for creating a retirement villa and gardens as early as 1460; and after his death, Yoshimasa would arrange for this property to become a Zen temple. The temple is today associated with the Shokoku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen.
The two-storied Kannon-den (観音殿, Kannon hall), is the main temple structure. Its construction began February 21, 1482 (Bummei 14 , 4th day of the 2nd month). The structure’s design sought to emulate the golden Kinkaku-ji which had been commissioned by his grandfather Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It is popularly known as Ginkaku, the “Silver Pavilion” because of the initial plans to cover its exterior in silver foil; but this familiar nickname dates back only as far as the Edo period (1600–1868).
During the Ōnin War, construction was halted. Despite Yoshimasa’s intention to cover the structure with a distinctive silver-foil overlay, this work was delayed for so long that the plans were never realized before Yoshimasa’s death. The present appearance of the structure is understood to be the same as when Yoshimasa himself last saw it. This “unfinished” appearance illustrates one of the aspects of “wabi-sabi” quality.
Like Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji was originally built to serve as a place of rest and solitude for the Shogun. During his reign as Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa inspired a new outpouring of traditional culture, which came to be known as Higashiyama Bunka (the Culture of the Eastern Mountain). Having retired to the villa, it is said Yoshimasa sat in the pavilion, contemplating the calm and beauty of the gardens as the Ōnin War worsened and Kyoto was burned to the ground.
In 1485, Yoshimasa became a Zen Buddhist monk. After his death on January 27, 1490 (Entoku 2, 7th day of the 1st month), the villa and gardens became a Buddhist temple complex, renamed Jishō-ji after Yoshimasa’s Buddhist name.
After extensive restoration, started February 2008, Ginkaku-ji is again in full glory to visit. The garden and temple complex are open to the public. There is still no silver foil used. After much discussion, it was decided to not refinish the lacquer to the original state. The lacquer finish was the source of the original silver appearance of the temple, with the reflection of silver water of the pond on the lacquer finish.
After getting good shots, it was noon and Kyoto is really hot. I checked how to go back to the station or get to some other attractions around.
Finally I got another bus which accepts the one day pass. I got down near Gion as I saw there were 2 small temples and then a huge temple – Kiyomizu dera.
Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera (音羽山清水寺), is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) UNESCO World Heritage site. It was one of 20 finalists for the New7Wonders of the World.
Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 778 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.
It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō sect dating from Nara times. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the “Kitahossō” sect.
The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. Large verandas and main halls were constructed at many popular sites during the Edo period to accommodate large numbers of pilgrims.
The popular expression “to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu” is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression “to take the plunge”. This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one’s wish would be granted. 234 jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited.
Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.
The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, a god of love and “good matches”. Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of “love stones” placed 18 meters apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love. One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person’s romantic interest can assist them as well.
The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes). The site is particularly popular during festivals (especially at New Year’s and during obon in the summer) when additional booths fill the grounds selling traditional holiday foodstuffs and souvenirs to throngs of visitors.
In 2007, Kiyomizu-dera was one of 21 finalists for the New Seven Wonders of the World However, it was not picked as one of the seven winning sites.
Lot to walk and I was having a heavy backpack. Though tired, it was worth the pain. Finally, around 5pm, I head back to the Kyoto metro station to head back to Osaka where I have my hotel booking. Got into a local metro and reached Osaka around 6:30 pm. The hotel was just adjacent to the exit 3 of this Osaka station. It was really helpful. I didn’t have to again walk and figure out where it’s located. Since I was too tired I thought of going to the spa. I reached the spa to find many naked Japanese guys. So, I got back to my room and soaked myself in the bath tub. It was very relaxing. That’s when I realised, I didn’t have any food the whole day. I got out of the room and there were no restaurants nearby that has menu in English. Glad I had bought a data sim and used it to find a nearby McDonalds. Had burgers and head back to room and slept of around 11:30pm. Tomorrow is a big day for me. I have got some managers discussion and a presentation to be made. Did I prepare yet? umm.. Well I am confident though. Oh! where is the office. This is the first time in Osaka office and I am not sure where it is. I was searching in google map to find, but nope nothing.. I messaged Iwasaki-san and I got direction and he said its very close the APA Hotel where I was staying. I was happy hearing that and didn’t bother to check and slept off..