Well, today was our last full day in Kyoto. I’m definitely sad that we’re leaving tomorrow, but Frankie and I sure fit in a really admirable volume of stuff today! We trekked all across Kyoto, hitting most all of the major must-see spots we hadn’t made it to yet!
We began with the market at To-ji temple which — completely coincidentally — takes place on the 21st of each month. I’m not going to lie — I was pretty dead set on picking up some souvenirs today. I’m so tall that it’s been impossible to find any wearable souvenirs that fit. That being said, they were selling some really classy men’s kimonos at the To-ji market that were tall enough to fit me! Frankie and I spent a while debating the merits of matching colors in an obi to the colors on the bottom of the kimono and we were given a hand by the very helpful owner of the stand that we were at. I have to admit — I’m really excited that I found something to take home! We wandered a bit more through the market, running into a lovely British woman named Holly a few times as we were shopping. It was really delightful to visit with her! After looking around for awhile, we slowly made our way out of the mass of people swarming the To-ji grounds and headed for the bus stop that would allow us to get to Kiyomizu-dera.
We got off the bus and had a lovely walk up a hill towards the Kiyomizu-dera entrance. I was able to stop at a stand at the side of the road and grab a small baked sweet potato! I have found that these have been my favorite snack here. (Thank you Kagaya-sensei for introducing me to them!) They’re a bit different than American sweet potatoes and they’re SO MUCH better. We stopped for lunch in small cafe just off the road and continued on to Kiyomizu-dera. Even though the main temple was under construction, the view of the city was gorgeous. Frankie ended up recognizing the pagoda at the temple as her laptop background. She was a bit cross as her laptop told her it was located in Tokyo, not Kyoto, but it was fun to get a couple good pictures of it.
From Kiyomizu-dera we boarded a bus that would take us more or less entirely across the breadth of Kyoto to Kinkaku-ji, or, as it’s better known in the west, the Golden Pavilion. On the way there, we were able to play the “knowledgeable” ones for once and explain the bus system to another English-speaking tourist new to the city. I’m going to be honest… even though it was really pretty to look at, Kinkaku-ji was a little bit gaudy for me. It was pretty incredible to see the gold reflecting off the water, but I think I prefer the Zen gardens. I was also excited because I found at one of the little shops there something I could reasonably use for a Christmas ornament! Everybody collects something from every place that they go, and ornaments for the family tree are my thing. It was a bit harder to find something like that this time, but I’m happy that I was eventually able to find something that I could use for one!
After Kinkaku-ji we made our final stop at Ryoan-ji — a temple that has what is arguably the most famous Zen garden in the world. The garden itself was beautiful and it was really nice to just sit for a bit. After Ryoan-ji, we took another very long bus ride back to the sanjo area and headed back to the hostel to meet the other students for dinner. After dinner we returned to the hostel and I got (mostly) packed! It will be nice not to have that to worry about in the morning. I’m planning to get up a bit early to get my hands on the final souvenir that I wanted — some tea. It’s going to be a lot of fun to fix it with my grandma over spring break! I can’t wait.
All in all, I wish we had one or two more days to see a few more things. I feel as though we’ve barely scratched the surface of what makes Kyoto such an amazing city. I guess that that’s just more motivation to come back in the future!
See you tomorrow (when I’ll be writing from the frozen tundra of Williamstown again!)