We got up early and went to the Golden Temple, in northwest Kyoto. The temple grounds were actually quite small, but it’s still notable since the temple is plated in gold.
We only spent about twenty minutes at the temple, and then went in search of an ATM and a zen garden. We found the zen garden, but not an ATM, so were without the funds necessary to enter the garden. Rebuffed and hungry, we got on a free bus and rode to Nijo Castle, where we found both an ATM and much-needed elevensies at 7-11. Elevensies, a meal between breakfast and lunch, has proved to be the most important meal of the day for us. Without elevensies there are bouts of pouting, flopping onto park benches, diminished problem-solving skills and inability to make logical decisions.
Refueled, we stormed Nijo Castle. This is a corner tower of the castle wall, which was surrounded by a moat.
There was a cormorant fishing the moat, and unlike in China, we could take pictures of the cormorant fishing for free!
Nijo Castle was built in 1603 by a shogun (from my understanding a sort of general-king). The floors were specially designed to be squeaky and he had hidden compartments for guards so that nobody could whack him. Talk about paranoid. The castle’s interiors are open to visitors — minus shoes, umbrella and cameras — and made for a lovely, shaded tour. Every room in the castle is covered in murals of scenes from nature, and many even have gold plating.
The castle grounds are quite large and have many gardens. At one point, we broke out our auxiliary elevensies, Kit Kat bars. Unfortunately, it was probably in the 90s at the very least, and they were liquid. So we trekked onward.
Short people, big walls:
Having had a successful castle visit, we had burgers for lunch and journeyed to the western outskirts of town where there are many parks and temples. When we got off the subway train, Jeff noticed a large building that said “piano museum” on the side, so despite it not being in the guide book or agenda, we went in. The lobby was actually a ticket office for some kind of special train ride called the “romance train.” The romance train was actually just a rickety wooden train, but I guess one man’s rickety wooden compartment of death is another’s rose petal-strewn, candle-lit French restaurant.
Once we finally found the museum, we discovered that it was one room with two grand pianos, a few old train engines, some chandeliers and one display case of small, crystal figurines. I guess it should be called “random stuff that fancy white people like,” not “piano museum.”On the up side, one the pianos was a Bösendorfer, and Jeff reached across the velvet rope and touched the leg, which made him happy.
Outside, Jeff worked it for the camera at the Hummer that was also displayed at the “piano museum.”
After that we window shopped and walked around the neighborhood, which was strewn with gardens and temples. There’s also a monkey park, but we decided against paying for monkeys when you can get them for free in other parts of Japan.
We crossed the big river that runs through the city and walked along the shore.
After a long walk, we went to our first zen garden. See? There’s lines in pebbles and everything!
Some moss that looks like tiny pine trees:
Relaxed from our zen experience, we headed home. On the way, we saw this weird fruit:
Ten points to anyone who can tell me what this is!