Konnichi wa! We were all off to an early start with our passports and forms in hand, to meet with customs officials to be fingerprinted before heading off on our excursion to Kyoto this morning, Friday 25 March.
Just a short ride through town and we joined the highway, one lane each way, for the trip to Kyoto. No more “concrete jungles”, just sparse housing and rice paddy fields. As we made our way up the mountain, we passed through 15-20 tunnels of varying lengths – I lost count!
We took many photos today, not only of the places we visited but of the food as the packaging is a work of art in itself. We had no idea what the products were, but they looked amazing. Also the vending machines were interesting – I don’t think there is much that you cannot buy in a machine.
We explored the Ryoanji Temple with its famous Zen rock garden featuring 15 rocks set in meticulously raked white gravel and the beautiful Golden Pavilion considered a premier example of the Muromachi Era (1337-1573) design. The pond is the centre of this garden and you could spend a lot of time here, just admiring the beauty of it all. We thought we saw some cherry blossoms in bloom but they turned out to be flowering plums. Still beautiful.
Next was an authentic Japanese lunch at the Harvest Club, a hotel and restaurant. The food was beautifully presented, not only delicious to eat but also pleasing to the eye. We had no idea what most of it was but we ate everything and we were full for the rest of the day.
Our final stop was for shopping in the town and to see the bamboo forest. Many interesting little shops to explore and a very enjoyable introduction to Japan.