This is the second time I’ve been to Kyoto this year and I’ve covered a mix of familiar and new things.
Nijo castle, apparently the site of my first steps some 27 years ago, is still looking fine surrounded by its carp-filled moat. The floor still squeaks there, but since my last visit I’ve found at least two other buildings with the same effect (which is done on purpose to make sneaking in very hard). On the recommendation of The Lonely Planet, often referred to as The Good Book, we when off to Funaoka Sento, the best public bath in Kyoto. It was pretty basic by some standards, but had some interesting points. I didn’t try the tub of dark brown water. Compared to the other clear pools it looked positively unsanitary but I’ve since discovered it to be the mineral pool. There was an electric pool too, like the one I found on the outskirts of Nagoya many moons ago. I experimented with that for a while, fighting the unseen force that contorted and deformed my arms, and the cold pool too. But the most interesting thing about the experience was how I felt in the changing room. No-one else was there. I was worried I was in the wrong room and I just couldn’t start getting undressed until there was at least one other semi-clad man in the room to prove I wasn’t in the lobby or corridor :-/
Oh yeah. We went at night, the best time for a hot bath. At some point the bus driver spotted us in the mirror and came back to check if we knew where we were going, which we did. It was then I looked around and noticed we were the only European faces on the bus. I guess we stood out to him, assuming tourists just stick to the main night-life district, but it was nothing new to us. I’m glad our traveling has been like this, independent enough to see the little places.
Arashiyama, on the western side of town, was great. For weeks I’ve been making fun of the way Tania fell for the small furry animals of America. Squirrels, chipmunks, whatever. She wanted one and yelped with joy when a new one ran across our path. Sadly I never caught this on camera, but trust me it happened. I claimed immunity to this but at the top of the hill she found my weakness. Baby monkeys. I love them, I love them, I love them. What a shame they’re not really house pets and NZ wouldn’t allow them anyway.
Kiyomizu was pretty cool. We saw a festival/dance with long thin dragon held up on poles. The temple on the top didn’t stand out much from all those we’ve seen, but the massive beams underneath, holding it up on the hillside, were impressive for sure.
Ginkakuji was a disappointment of my own making. Had I bothered to turn the page in the good book I’ve have discovered that though it translates as ‘Silver Pavilion’, it was never actually covered in silver as the shogun had planned. Not only that but it’s more scaffolding than pavilion right now :-(