On the second day of my vacation I headed into Kyoto and planned to see a couple of its most famous sites.
On the bus ride to my first stop I saw one of the mountainside bonfires that I'd see lit up a few days later.
There was a good sized crowd at Kinkaku-ji that day, understandable as it's one of the most popular attractions in the city.
My ticket into the grounds.
Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavillion, is a shrine in Kyoto and one of the most famous sites in the city. It was originally built as the retirement villa for the Shogun in 1397 but was later turned into a Buddhist shrine. It's famous, of course, because it's covered in gold.
In these closeups you can see the detail of the gold plating, and the edges of the individual squares of gold leaf affixed to the side of the building.
Here are some features of the gardens surrounding Kinkaku-ji.
Next up was Ryoan-ji, famous for its Zen rock garden. The garden is one of the three most famous in all of Japan, consisting of traditional raked gravel, and fifteen moss-covered stones. It really is peaceful to sit in front of and watch.
Ryoan-ji's grounds contained a beautiful pond full of lilypads, lotuses, and bamboo.
On the way to Koryu-ji the bus route wound through the beautiful riverside Arashiyama area, which has been a popular summertime playground for several centuries.
Koryu-ji is the oldest temple in Kyoto, dating from 603, and home to a collection of beautiful wooden Buddhist sculptures which I do not have any pictures of here as there was no photography inside the statue hall.
It does however have some very beautiful temple grounds.
This hall was built in 1165 and is one of the few remaining original buildings on site.
Being templed out for the day I decided to head into Kyoto's modern Kawaramachi district for some dinner and to soak up the nightlife.
A traditional and still wildly popular way to spend a sweltering summer evening is out on a restaurant terrace along the Kamo river.
Tucked into two tiny streets parallel to the Kamo river is Pontcho, the traditional nightlife area filled with tiny bars, restaurants and izakayas, many down narrow, dimly-lit side alleys.
The street continues on for the better part of a mile, and I was blown away at how many places there were crammed into this little backalley.
That's it for day 2. Stay tuned for next time when I explore historical sights so famous they're on Japanese money, fox-fertility temples in the forested mountains surrounding Kyoto, and the infamous fiery Daimon-ji festival.