Friday, October 28, 2011

The Empire of the Rising Sun

After my last update, you know that I left Korea.  Right now I am currently in Indonesia on Bali.  But since I just got here, i'll reserve judgement and writeups on it for another few days.  For now, here is an update about my trip last week to Kyoto and Osaka, Japan.

With my contract ending Monday the 17th, i decided to use my newfound free time to visit Japan for 5 days.  Given the prices there and the size of the country, it seemed about right.  I arrived near Osaka wednesday afternoon and caught a train up to Kyoto from there.  Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and has tons of interesting history.  It is full of temples, historic districts and interesting shrines.  My first night I set out to explore Gion, the Geisha District.

Entrance to a traditional Japanese Tea House 

More of the Geisha district along the canal 

A group of Geishas out walking

I found Gion charming, lovely and a wonderful spot for a night stroll.  After walking around and trying some random food that my waiter suggested, i headed back for some shut-eye.  The next morning I woke up to find a bright blue sky and I knew immediately what that meant.  The best place to go on a clear day in Kyoto is unquestionably Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion.  As you can see below, it is called the Golden Pavilion because the top 2 floors are completely gilded in thick, real gold.  

Kinkakuji overlooking a serene lake 

 Kinkakuji was the retirement villa of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu

Good choice huh?

This was my favorite place in Japan.  Simply breathtaking.  After a quick trip back to my hostel to refresh, I headed for the outskirts of town to check out Fushimi Inari, the fox shrine.  Inari is the Japanese god of rice and business.  This is his main shrine and it is filled with over 10,000 vermilion gates donated by individuals and companies hoping to receive blessing from him.  The pictures can be seen below.  Fortunately I arrived just at dusk.  This is what's known as perfect timing!

Senbon Torii ("thousands of torii gates")

After this wonderful day I headed back, including a good long walk, and went to bed, ready for another great day tomorrow.  But since this has gone on long enough, I'll finish my Japan trip in the next update.  For now, enjoy the pictures.

It seems to go on forver

Sunset over Kyoto

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