Day 9 – Kyoto
We got up early and arrived at Ryoanji first thing – at 9:00 in the morning. This turned out to be a very good thing, as it was still relatively uncrowded. Ryoanji is best known for its rock garden: 15 stones carefully arranged in a sea of carefully raked sand, surrounded by walls. There is no vantage point that allows you to see (or take a photo) of all 15 rocks at once. In fact, both Ann and I had to count twice to convince ourselves that there were 15 separate stones, as they vary in size tremendously, and some of the stones are hidden behind larger stones from certain vantage points. We took the time to meditate for about 10 minutes there in the garden.
The rock garden was lovely and made us think about what it would have been like to have a rock garden in our entry instead of the liriope grass that we have now. Our landscape architect suggested a rock garden at the time and we turned it down. But now we are at a place where the rock garden seems much more in tune with our aesthetic.
In the viewing building, what looked like a group of volunteers were wiping down everything and doing an intensive cleaning.
Also, everywhere we went that day, we saw school children out with older guides – each guide had no more than six students. We wondered if this was some kind of formal program.
One of the things that you don’t realize when you see pictures of this rock garden in the books is that there is a second moss garden just around the corner from the much more famous rock garden. The contrast of the two gardens adds to the depth of the experience.
The inside of the viewing building is quite relaxing, you might say “Zen”.
The grounds are also very beautiful, particularly this lake.
Then on to Kinkakiju (the golden pavilion).By this time, it was almost 10:30, and the hoards arrived with us, it was packed with people, and their system for moving people through the grounds didn’t work very well, creating a bottle neck just near the entrance.
Overall, the whole garden atKinkakiju looked less well cared for than others gardens we went to in Kyoto.
After Kinkakiju, we came across another buddhist temple with a great set of guardians. I didn’t get the name of the temple.
After that, we went to the textile center. Unfortunately, the exhibits were closed. Only the gift shop, which occupied the entire second floor, was open. It was disappointing. Higher prices, and not very interesting items. It’s too bad, because Kyoto is the center for textiles in the country, and there is so much more they could have done.
By this time we were getting hungry, so we looked for the restaurant Oadu. After perhaps 45 minutes of searching, we finally found it, but it was closed. We were so hungry we went to a random Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant. My lunch was OK, but Ann’s was terrible.
We headed back to the hotel, then went that evening to the Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades , which were pretty amazing. You can find anything you want there, from tacky souvenirs, to women’s clothing to fine jewelry in some of better department stores We ate French Galettes for dinner at Cafe-Creperie Le Bretagne.