“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
It is difficult to write about Japan sometimes without being biased by her history, not with Misshoggy, who had worked closely with her Korean colleagues in South Korea. Precarious is probably an understatement to describe Korea-Japan relationship.War is not kind and reveals the worst of mankind. The unkindness of war, however, escaped Kyoto. Due to an American statesman’s desire to protect the land of dreams he remembered Kyoto to be, thus the city of Kyoto is preserved till this very day, allowing her visitors to enter a dream of old Japanese charm.
It felt like a weird dream, where there was this sudden shift from a modern concrete jungle to a shogunate town of yore.
Entering Kyoto’s Gion district felt like entering a different realm, especially if you travelled here from Osaka. Japan’s former capital has this refinement that I have never experienced before. The streets were laden with traditional wooden houses and it is known for its many classical Buddhist temples. We might have taken modern transportation to get here but the art of natural beauty of Kyoto will transport you into a reverie of Zen.
Strolling around to check out the hustle and bustle of Gion, also known as the geisha district, we surprised ourselves when we arrived at oldest Zen temple just around the corner.
It was a refreshing and peaceful change, almost like the antithesis of the pleasures out in Gion. The journey around Kennin-ji would take you to the stunning karesansui (Japanese rock garden) as well as the lichen gardens. While exploring the temple, on your way to the Hodo hall, you might enlighten yourself in trying to figuring out how the gates work. Do not be too frustrated though, the twin dragons painting on the ceiling of the Hodo hall is going to be worth it.
The two major traditional Kyoto cuisines are the aristocratic Kaiseki ryori and the more simplistic Buddhism-inspired Shojin ryori.
Even if you’re dreaming, you can’t ignore your stomach. Once the seat of the imperial court for 1000 years, Kyoto is rich with culinary traditions. Within Gion, I was overwhelmed with choices. Hence, my decision to ask for food recommendation at the tourist information centre in Kyoto Station proved to be a great foresight. For the full Kyoto experience, an 11-course Tofu obanzai (home-made) ryori was proposed at the Minoko.
The original temple from 1397, with the golden glory and all, was unfortunately burnt down.
Of course Gion district is not the only landmark of Kyoto.About 30 minutes bus ride from Gion, another landmark of beauty you can find in Northern Kyoto is Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion). Another popular Zen temple in town, the current temple, to many visitors’ surprise, was rebuilt in the 1955. Having said that, the reconstructed golden glory did not disappoint.
Soon, the sun set and our little daydream in Kyoto came to an end. Before you leave, be sure to explore Kyoto Station though. It is packed full of surprises. Of all the surprises, I particularly like the ramen street on the 10th floor.
I dreamed of Kyoto and I think that was the right thing to do.
From Osaka Station, you can take JR Kyoto Line‘s Special Rapid Service. It should take you about 3o minutes. It should cost you around 560 Yen (~AUD 6.50).
To get to:
If you are visiting Kyoto on a day trip, the most affordable way to travel is with the One-day bus pass from the tourist information centre. The pass cost 550 Yen (~AUD 6.40) and it covers trips to most attractions in Kyoto.
From Kyoto station, take bus 100 or 206 to Gion shijo bus stop.
From Kyoto station, take bus 101 or 205 to Kinkaku-ji michi bus stop.
From Gion district, take bus 12 to Kinkaku-ji michi bus stop.