Hello again! This was the second full day in the Sunrise Country. Very eager to visit what we tried to see in the previous day, but it was closed at Ginkaku-Ji Temple and for the Imperial Palace it seemed a better deal to be visited with an English-speaking tour guide.
Thanks to our maps and willingness to explore the city, we left home from Horikawa Dori and made our way on little, narrow streets right to the Imperial Palace – 京都御所. It’s always a joy to walk down those quiet streets – you get the chance to take a glimpse of the settled down life of Kyoto people. Small houses, small cars, small parking spots (sometimes bigger). The flowers, plants and trees they have add a drop of beauty to their garden.
For a tourist or photographer, these corners are pure joy. According to Travel & Leisure Magazine, Kyoto was named the best city in the world for 2015. That is something!
We have reached the Kyoto Gyoen quite easily from our home. We had our tour of the Sento Imperial Palace Gardens scheduled for 12:30 PM and we joined a pretty large group of tourists. A very hot day with the sun shinning at its maximum.
The English tour guide was speaking not so loud so we heard only fragments of her story. Most of the times I prefered to stay away from the group, and to absorb in silence the atmosphere and contemplate the beauty of the architecture.
The gardens are beautiful. That typical Japanese care makes you admire amazing gardens that have a very genuine natural random look (but in fact it requires a lot of work).
All buildings are mostly made from natural materials and keep the “natural” and traditional look. Do you think there are some differences between the Imperial Palace in Kyoto and Versailles, regarding the size, number of chambers, statues, used materials?
Surely the Emperor was a very important person in world’s history. I like the architecture of Versailles – it seems like one of the most important achievements in Earth’s architecture, but what I see at the Imperial Palace from Kyoto (compared to Versailles and other important palaces from England, Germany, France, Austria, Russia, etc) is a different concept.
Grandeur, built on simplicity. Zen principles built on natural materials – the sizes and shapes I have seen in this architecture call for meditation, moderation, concentration and awareness. Versailles? Hedonism and luxurious gratification. Japanese Imperial Palace? Awareness and contemplation.
We just took the same route as the previous day, passing by Demachiyanagi Station, the Kyoto University, once more up to Philosopher’s Path and reached the climbing way to the temple.
The Silver Pavilion is an amazing place to visit, a complementary item to our deep impression left by the Imperial Palace on our spirit, already filled with the touch of history and tradition.
Of course, the gardens and the preciseness in traditionalism can be seen in all those beautiful shapes and alignments. Tourists are everywhere, including students from local schools.
The visitors path starts to climb on the backside hill and you can get a beautiful view over the forest, the inner gardens and the city.
As much as I wanted to stay more, to find a moment without tourists and maybe wait for a better light for photography, we had to go and find more beautiful places in this vast city you cannot fully “do”, not even in a completely dedicated month of walking and discovery.
Once more down the alley, with plenty of traditional shops and then back into the Philosopher’s Path, full of energy and fervor to walk into new neighborhoods and find our way to more interesting corners. The small shops were a delight to visit.
Demachiyanagi Station was a milestone for us in our many days of wandering – it served us also as a departure / returning point when using the subways and trains.
Fatigue could be something you start to feel after a while, but being on vacation, being where you want to be and in the right company, you can really temper any disturbing perception of physical weariness.
Kyoto Station was our next waypoint. An essential place on Kyoto’s map, Kyoto Station and the surroundings can offer many opportunities to visit, eat and shop.
We had a great meal very close to the station and then we all welcomed the shopping time. In Japan, shopping could be fun because you find plenty of things that you don’t find elsewhere in the world, and from 10.000 yen and up, you could get it tax-free, based on your passport.
Aeon Mall is a great place to eat, shop, have fun and spend the end of a long day. Two big buildings linked with a nice bridge over the street – you can spend many hours in there. And we did.
What did we need the most? Shoes! Good for many kilometers of every day walking! As many of you might know, Japan is the home of Asics and Mizuno, two of my favorite sports brands. So everyone got a pair of Asics from the “Running” section. A very big wall was full with sport shoes only, designed for different sports : running, football, baseball, basketball, tennis, walking, you name it.
The day was almost over. Fully equipped with new comfortable shoes, we felt new resources of energy flowing through the system and we were ready to go home on our cushioned, comfortable steps.
Back again to Kyoto Station, quite near from Aeon Mall – then by foot for a while, in the freshness of the night, following the map, until we decided to find a bus station on our way and wait for the bus to get us home on Horikawa Dori.
Indeed it was a long day! Perhaps we did not see many tourist attractions on Kyoto’s map, but it’s all about quality and less about quantity. This is what you get from walking all day long – a type of experience I cherish and I am already used to.
We, as human beings, need to settle down our pace (at least on vacation) and we need to do the things in a more comfortable, relaxed way. Everything! Walking, resting, breathing, speaking, seeing things, eating, our actions through the day – just take your time and try to live the present moment – no hurry. You will do less things, but the things you do, will be better. They will be naturally absorbed by your mind as life experiences, in a deeper approach.
Back home, we had our typical briefing to sort the things we did and see. A snack, a beer, a cookie and a small cake created the frame to end our long day in joy and laughter. Family Mart is your friend, especially at midnight. Tired? Indeed – but after a good night sleep, another day was waiting for us with new places, new streets, new people and new feelings.
All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2015 / http://www.sebastianboatca.com