Kyoto – Sunday 5 May

Shrines, temples, castles and kimonos

We head off on a loose route of the “hop on hop off” bus brochure – 27km

It’s a warm day and we are in civvies – lycra has been left out of today. The locals and tourists are in their Sunday best … sensibly the young girls wear bobby socks and trendy flats with their ankle length skirts and pretty blouses.

There are temples and shrines everywhere it is impossible to see them all today … and I wouldn’t want to.

Within minutes we are off the bikes and looking at the Higashi Hongan-ji Temple it’s just after 9am and not many people around. It’s very impressive … they all are though.

The Nijo-jo Castle is attracting the tourists, buses are already in the carpark. We ride on, my primary focus awaits.

We stop at Kitano-tenmangu Shrine known for the statues of cows on the long entrance … lots of pics being taken stroking the cows.

The Kinkakuji Temple is my priority – a fee of ¥400 this venue attracts a crowd – the temple is adorned with near-pure gold leaf on the 2nd and 3rd floors and sits in the middle of a pond – people are milling around to take the perfect photo at many vantage points around the pond.

‘How many photos do I really need?’, I say, but that doesn’t stop me.

That’s me done … I’m happy now … the route takes us past more temples and shrines then we head towards the Gion district … the crowds close in and we are amongst lots of kimonos clad ladies, young girls and young men. At first it is ‘look’ and then they are part of the furniture in the small tourist streets. The kimonos bring a smile … there were many of them.

Heading back south I see a shrine left to visit … Fushimi Inari Taisha. It’s not far … a lovely ride through quaint small streets then the crowd increases … we are there. I’ve seen pictures of vermilion coloured torii gates in a row which look spectacular. Well we are talking thousands of torii gates weaving up to Mt Inari.

‘Are we there yet?’ … I wish somebody understood … can’t you tell … I’m SERIOUS!

Onward and upward through the torii gate path … one hour later – there are spectacular views of Kyoto.

John says, ‘do you ever wish you hadn’t started something?’,

‘Not this one John!’ I say.

Back towards our digs … a celebration about to happen – men with chariots – we stop to watch … we are their only fan … must be something to do with Golden Week I guess.

… and nothing like an Okonomiyaki to finish off our day in Kyoto.

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