Monday, June 1, 2009


Kyoto Day 3

No better place than temple for a nice Jewish boy like me, right?  Kyoto should be a natural, then, and it would be except for all those graven images !  Oy !

Jase is 'shrined out' by now but I am still going strong. Two more on my list today, then we take the 1 o'clock bullet train to Tokyo.

Kyoto was established as the capital over 1200 years ago, so the city is dripping with cultural and political history, most of which is captured in the thousands of temples and shrines scattered throughout the city.  Modern Kyoto has grown in and around these historic sites.

No hands down fave temple here but yesterday's stroll around Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Temple) 

with its over-the-top gold foil covered exterior walls sitting on a mirror smooth lake (see pics) was memorable.  On Saturday we followed a Lonely Planet suggested walking tour around the southern Higashiyama district, where we toured the Kiyomizu-dera temple complex and Kodai-ji, among others. 

My fave parts of the Saturday walk were the narrow streets in and around the temple complexes---streets lined with elegant restaurants, specialty foods & teas and gift item shops (and lots of softserve green tea ice cream---yum!). Had my first in-person look at the geishas who scurry through the streets to and from local appointments. 

And some of the tourist couples who come for the weekend and promenade through temples and shrines, garbed in traditional Japanese clothing. Wonderful!  The guidebook described a shop where they will dress you and make you up as a geisha and you can walk around Kyoto for an hour or two in costume, but Jase thought that was an option best left alone.

Saturday night we wandered through the lantern-lit streets of Ponto-Cho, a restaurant and entertainment (read girls!girls!girls!) zone north of our hotel. We were looking for a sushi bar that came recommended and after a nearly fruitless search up and down the lane, 

we finally found it--Kappa Zushi (yes, with a Z). Locating restaurants has been a constant challenge for us on all our trips here: building address plates are rare and 95% of the time the signage is Japanese only.  Not being shy to ask, I kept getting residents to point us in the right direction and finally we were seated at the sushi bar in front of one of the funniest and friendliest sushi chefs we have ever had, on any continent.

The sushi here were superb. And Jase was moved to describe it as the freshest he ever had, for reasons you will see in my next post......

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