The ramen shop looked rather low-key; it sported a handsome blue and white sign in Japanese kana with a romanized subheading reading "Kobushi." As we entered the restaurant we noticed to our left a bar at which a number of Japanese men were seated, busily devouring their ramen. To our right was a large enough table to accommodate several people, with two Japanese women seated on the other side chatting. We sat down at the table and were immediately approached by a waiter; he looked particularly non-Japanese and spoke excellent though somewhat accented English. We asked him what the signature dish was and he recommended a dish that, sadly, I can't remember the name of.
|Biking through the suburbs of Kyoto is as relaxing as it is wondrous. You never know what charming vista you'll encounter next!|
|In the suburbs Kyle happened to spy this group of schoolchildren on their way home from class and thought their colourful backpacks would make for an interesting shot, so I took the liberty.|
|This little shrine was on the corner of a residential street, surrounded by houses. It was too pretty to pass up.|
|My very own photo of the Golden Pavilion from across the pond.|
When we arrived at the entrance to the temple grounds, we found that they were home to several interesting features besides the pavilion itself. The grounds are quite large and offer some truly wonderful spaces in the forms of gardens, ponds, and shrines. In the video I muse about how the Golden Pavilion may have been mentioned in that monumental work of fictional prose Tale of the Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu; later I realized that was impossible, because the temple hadn't been built at the time it was written. I was obviously misquoting -- the importance of research is once again made apparent.
After viewing the pavilion itself we walked around the grounds and eventually happened upon another shrine that many people were gathered around. At this shrine you can buy a candle for a nominal donation and burn it for good fortune in an area of your choice (details in the video above). The candle I chose was for family safety, since my grandmother is in her early nineties (though healthy) and my mother had informed me that my father was trying to keep his blood pressure down. Though I don't consider myself superstitious, I figured a little help from the various Bodhisattvas and Shinto deities couldn't hurt. On the way out of the temple we bought some green tea ice cream to fuel our bike ride, and I picked up two long-life charms from the temple, one of which I gave to Kyle as a gift.
|There's Kyle prepping the bikes for our next destination.|
|This is just a random lantern we saw by the roadside not far from Arashiyama. Just seeing it there made it seem uncanny and mysterious, and I loved the way it looked.|
|The path through the bamboo grove was unlit, and since the sun had all but set it was delightfully eerie and almost magical. I half expected a Catbus to pull up. The light you see here is from my camera's flash.|
|The area outside the temple compound is also very quaint and charming. It helped me understand why so many people who visit Japan have nothing but praise for Kyoto's scenery, both manmade and natural.|
Eventually the time came to head to the terminal, so we reluctantly bid our culinary benefactors farewell and set off. It was a fine way to end our first Kyoto experience, and we felt that things could not have gone more smoothly, especially considering that we had planned everything at the last minute. I felt that we were extremely lucky and I decided that Kyoto is a place I will go back to again and again if I have the means. Charming, mysterious, and beautiful -- these are just a few of the words I'd use to describe Kyoto, based on my experiences there.
Next stop, the big city. Tokyo, here we come!
For those of you who are interested, here is the official website for the hostel we stayed at in Kyoto. I highly recommend it!