In Kyoto All That Glitters Really is Gold

Do you see it?

That's not fake! The Golden Pavilion is covered with several layers of thick gold leaf

The pavilion is one of the main buildings of the Rokuon-ji Temple, but the site was originally the home of someone’s villa back in 1220. After passing through several owners, the site was made into a Zen temple and this building was constructed. It was actually burned to the ground in the 1980’s by a disgruntled young monk, but as you can see it has been rebuilt to its former glory.

Not everyone was impressed.

The foreigners were though

Here's a panoramic shot

Duck having a Zen moment.

Rubbing the gold dust from our eyes, we then proceeded to Ryoanji Temple and Gardens where we first came upon these luxurious moss gardens.

I really expected leprechauns to pop out from behind a tree

Or a fairy to flit by.

It was just so mossy.

One of the gardens we hadn’t been able to get into was Kyoto’s famous moss garden.  Having seen the fabulous moss growing in the gardens we did see, I can only imagine what that moss garden must be like.

Ryoanji Temple is home to probably the world's most famous Zen rock garden.

This rock garden was created around 1500 and is made up of 15 rocks and white gravel. It was created by the Zen monk Tokuho Zenketsu.

This little boy was more interested in Mark and practicing his English than in contemplating a bunch of rocks. His dad later took a picture of the two of them together.

Some other mossy parts of the garden

The tea room on the grounds has a stone wash-basin with the inscription “I learn only to be contented.” In other words, he who learns only to be contented is spiritually rich, while the one who does not learn to be contented is spiritually poor even if he is materially wealthy.

Here's Mark sitting in front of the basin, studying his Chinese, trying to learn to be contented with the less than stellar ability for learning languages that he's been given.

The Japanese maples in Kyoto are starting to turn red.

The garden also had a giant lily pond that was still in bloom in some areas

After wandering through two temples it was time for lunch so we went off in search of someplace that might have pictures to look at, so that we could order.

As it happened, we ended up wandering through a residential neighborhood

The houses were neat and tidy

Unlike China, this was the only time we saw laundry hanging outside.

There's the laundry--it's inside!

There's probably a small garden in the back

Everywhere around Kyoto this week we’ve noticed a wonderful smell and we finally traced it to these flowers:

They smell very sweet, a bit like orange blossoms

We saw the bushes in all shapes and sizes, but this one high above someone’s fence won the prize

You will never go thirsty in Kyoto as long as you have some change in your pocket because:

There are vending machines everywhere!

And I do mean everywhere. We even saw some that sold beer. And of course if you can’t find a vending machine there’s probably a 7-11 or a Family Mart just a few feet anyway.

I wouldn't mind coming home to this house

We did finally find a place to eat, a beef place that turned out to be a bit weird in it’s menu choices.

Here's the lovely plastic food that first drew us into the restaurant

For some odd reason, the place was decorated with paintings of the Anasazi Indians of the American Southwest. What little English there was spoke about this restaurant being a “nostalgic” experience. We just thought it was a bit jarring.

Mark had the hamburger, except it wasn’t. It was really baked meatloaf (sort of) on a bun. Meredith and I had a combination plate that consisted of that same mystery meat covered in barbecue sauce, a small piece of chicken wrapped in bacon that had been cooked on a grill (go figure), something that may have been a potato croquette with mayonaise on top and a big pile of shredded raw cabbage with a little bit of some kind of dressing drizzled on it. (I’m thinking there was something else on the plate, but it escapes me at the moment-it was probably some kind of Japanese pickle.) And of course, when I have a nostalgic western meal, I always complete it with a side of Japanese sticky rice, don’t you? The other thing that was amazing about this restaurant was that when I went in to the bathroom, the toilet lid automatically opened when I entered the stall!

After lunch we wandered in to the market again for a better look.

Meredith seems to be a bit frightened of what she sees

As perhaps she should be. Baby octopus with chestnuts

The goopy sweets Asians are so fond of

One reason the Japanese are so healthy--they eat a lot of vegetables

All the different kinds of pickles you will see at every meal, including breakfast. I'm pretty sure that most are not made from cucumbers.

Squishy chopped up fish and scallops

Fried things

Maybe fish eggs?

Halloween has come to Japan as well, but in a much, much more reserved manner than in America

More sweets

They were giving out samples of their roasted chestnuts

These vegetables were sitting in barrels of moist brown gritty stuff. It was most unappetizing looking.

These weren't scary--they're packages of pretty colored pasta

We weren't aware that Andy was paying for college by making egg tarts in Kyoto

The chopstick store had these cute chopstick holders for sale

So many pretty chopsticks.

There was also a kitchen knife store, but we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Some of the kitchen knives in that store were so big and dangerous, they probably ought to require a licence to own.

The large magazine section of the book store

As we were leaving we came across this group of school children

We saw many school groups and they were either dressed in school uniforms of blue and white, often resembling sailor outfits, or if more casually dressed like these kids, they would almost always have yellow hats and yellow somewhere else in their costume. Sometimes we would see small groups of kids trudging somewhere in a straight line about 5 or 5:30pm with a male teacher or headmaster in the front, one at the side in the middle and one at the back. My guess is they were going to evening cram school.

By this time we were getting a little tired of our austere and cell-like accommodations. Meredith and I had just about had it with the breakfasts too. Mark had given up on the 2nd morning and was going to McDonalds every day for what he said were wonderful egg mcmuffins. So we went back to Village Kyoto and looked for another hotel.

Next post: monkeys!

About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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