Day 1: Kyoto
People say Japan looks entirely different each season. White snow in winter, pink Sakura in spring, holidays in summer and red leaves in autumn. What better place to witness the incredible and infamous red maple leaves of autumn in Kyoto, Japan’s historical and one of the oldest city of Japan. I thought by “red leaves”, people really meant the brownish color of whitering leaves, a sign winter is near. Boy was I wrong. The maple leaves were bright chilli red and simply stunning! Apparently, the green maple leaves turn a bright yellow before turning bright red in autumn. The red leaves set against some yellow and green plus the clear blue sky, it was every photographer’s dream come true.
We walked through this “bamboo jungle” and caught a glimpse of 2 geishas on a trishaw. Kenix said they were probably not real Geishas but tourists who paid to be made up like geishas and taken around for a ride as part of their package.
I noticed that Japanese temples usually have a little board of some sort to display little wooden plates written with wishes. Of course you have to pay to write one and hang it on. Somewhat like a wishing tree. I thought it looked very interesting and Japanese.
Our day in Kyoto was spent visiting magnificent ancient temples and castles, set against the backdrop of amazing red maple leaves. It was impossible to stop by each and every temple/castle in Kyoto. Firstly there were heaps of them and secondly, we were charged admission fees. Since Kenix had been here in Spring, she recommended her favorites which she thinks are worth a visit. Next stop, the Golden Pavillion “Kinkaku-ji”.
We took a bus to Philosophy, a touristy spot featuring stalls selling Japanese souvenirs and snacks. It was super crowded! Ah well, Kenix said Kyoto is crowded at all times due to excessive marketing campaigns attracting tourists to Kyoto from all over Japan and beyond. I bought myself a 4 flavoured soft serve sundae (always yes to ice cream!) - sweet potato, red tea, green tea and vanilla for 250yen. Not yummy per se, but worth a try for its unique Japanese taste. Oh did I mention Japanese love their teas? They even infuse it into ice cream flavours, that’s how much they love tea!
Our next stop was supposed to be another temple up the hill, the Kiyomizudera temple. But due to seriously bad traffic, it was almost sunset when we arrived by bus. No sunlight, no views. However, we noticed a poster announcing there will be night illumination starting from 6.30pm at the said place. Apparently this only happens rarely and the lights depicted in the poster was spectacular. And so why not? We made our way up the hill and the more we walked, the crowd became denser and denser…… At one point, we were just stuck, puzzled at why everyone was just standing there because the entrance was still a few hundred meters away.
“This isn’t the queue, is it?”
You bet! It was unbelievable!!! Even if you managed to get a ticket in, how do you suppose a crowd like this to fit into the place and “enjoy” the scenery? With that, we decided to go off for dinner and called it a day.
Next up: Nara.
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