Japan 2013: Day 6 Next Up – Kyoto! Part 3

DAY 6 (CON’T)

Kyoto (and Nara) are probably the only areas where I did some detailed itinerary planning and listed out the places to visit.  Particularly for Kyoto, as the prefecture itself is really huge, plus there are many temples and cultural attractions of interest – had to really pick out the areas I want to cover in my 2 1/2 days here this time round.

Thus I used the half-day intineraries recommended on the ever trusty Japan Guide here (for Kyoto) …… So after Ginkakuji, instead of walking back to the bus-stop where I came from, turned right instead and started the walk down Philosopher’s Path next!

Extracted from Japan Guide here:

The Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto‘s Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Usually in early April these trees explode with color, making this one of the city’s most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots.

Approximately two kilometers long, the path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji. The path gets its name due to Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.

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Thus my main aim is to enjoy the autumn leaves and surroundings along the walk, while leading me to the next temple on the itinerary – Nanzenji Temple. Hope to reach Nanzenji before its closing time (1630 to 1700 Hrs).

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Philosopher's Path 1

While the Philosopher’s Path is a well-known cherry blossoms/hanami spot …… I had expectations of beautiful autumn leaves lining up the walk as well. However slight disappointment there as the leaves were dry and falling rapidly ……

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However, spotted this building (a souvenir shop) where 2 bears are seated at a bench. Great photo taking spot as I saw a few other photographers (with DSLRs) gathered at this corner as well ……

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Shops and various buildings (a mixture of old and modern) along the path ……

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Mandarin ducks at the stream (another popular photo taking spot) ……

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Finally some nicer koyo leaves on this part of the walk ……

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Interesting detail (did some googling as I am blogging this). Yae is the historical figure Niijima Yae that the 2013 NHK Taiga Yae no Sakura is based on.

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Passed by Ekikando Temple whilst on route to Nanzenji. There were police/workers there putting signs stating that last entry at 1600 Hrs. Asked one of the workers, and he kindly told me that they need to close early in order to prepare for the evening illumination which is open at 1700 Hrs (when the sun sets). Hence I decided to quickly head over to Nanzenji first (before the temple closes at 1700 Hrs) …… and then walk back to Ekikando for the evening illumination (did pencil in my itinerary to attend 1-2 evening illuminations in Kyoto) say around 1730 Hrs.

So finally reached Nanzenji after another 15 min walk. It is already around 420pm man!

Some information on Nanzenji here on Japan Guide. Nanzenji essentially has huge sprawling grounds with various buildings. However each separate building charges separate admission fees. So mainly looked around the buildings and surroundings and took more photos rather than exploring the individual temple buildings ……

Entrance to the massive Sanmon Gate. Surrounded by beautiful red and yellow autumn leaves as well ……

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Hojo – Nanzenji’s main hall.

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Poem/calligraphy infused amongst the autumn leaves.

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The route behind the main hall leading towards ……

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The large brick adqueduct right behind the temple. As much as it doesn’t blend in with the rest of the buildings that make up Nanzenji, there are very nice autumn leaves surrounding the brick adqueduct.

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Last look at Nanzenji before leaving ……

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Just followed the crowd out of Nanzenji and onto this railroad. Not sure if this was the Keage Incline. There was a couple taking wedding shots, but unfortunately the limitations of my digital camera could only allow me to zoom so far, and did not manage to get a tighter angle (time to upgrade my camera man!) ……

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Keage Kyoto

Did not manage to find the tunnel that will lead me to the Shirakawa Canal and onto Gion. So ended up taking the subway at Keage back to Shijio (the subway pass came in handy once again). Finally did a check-in to First Cabin Kyoto Karasuma.

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Unlike the rest of the hotels that I’ve stayed in so far, this was a cabin rather than a single hotel room. First Cabin is actually a capsule hotel chain with various locations in Japan (Namba, Haneda Airport, Akihabara, Kyoto). Thought it would be a good experience to try staying in a capsule hotel this time round in one of the cities I am stopping by. I had originally booked 2 other hotels for my Kyoto stay (one in Shijio and the other 10 min from Kyoto Station) which ranged from 7200 JPY to 8500 JPY per night – as they were basically the older hotels while the better ones (and ryokans) were pretty much maxed out due to this period being peak season in Kyoto (autumn foliage + school excursion) …… Until I did a last min change to First Cabin – which cost only 6000 JPY per night (even cheaper if I booked earlier but the online system turned up with no rooms, strange). Saved 3500 JPY which paid for my Kobe Steak Lunch 😛 …… Despite the initial hiccup earlier in the day locating First Cabin, in the end this turned out to be an excellent choice – great location (near subway and bus stops) and since I opted for the bigger cabin (First Class Cabin) – it was very cosy and much less claustrophic. Best of all, there’s wifi in the building. Check out my tripadvisor review here ……

Took out the essentials from my luggage (before the luggage goes back to the luggage cloak at the reception, as the cabin is not locked according to Japanese regulations) ….. rested a while, munched to a bread, charged my phone a bit before finally deciding to head out for the evening illumination at Ekikando.

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