November 14, 2013

Kyoto Walks in Higashiyama

My Kyoto exploration on foot continued after I was done with Heian Jingu or Heian Shrine (Jingu is shrine in Japanese, fyi). If you visit Kyoto and have a lot of time to spare (and are game for some exercise), go get this Kyoto Walks copy. I really recommend it.

But before that, it's time for a quick lunch. Usually I had onigiri which can be bought from the convenience stores. Some of the convenience stores here also have benches for customers to sit and enjoy their foods and drinks. Nice eh?

Walking along the streets of Kyoto was exciting as there were a lot of shops selling Japanese stuffs; gifts, arts and crafts. Saw a lot of pretty kimono and yukata here. I wanna buyyyy!! But I already have a yukata back home, so I guessed I shouldn't buy another. Cuci mata only la..

Not long after, I reached Shoren-in Temple. It is one of the five Monzeki temples of the Tendai sect of Buddhism in Kyoto. These Monzeki temples are temples whose head priests were from the imperial family.

Those are just outside the temple actually. I guessed most probably it looks almost the same as other temples, so I decided not to go in. But I was wrong as the receptionist at my hostel told me afterwards that the temple is fairly beautiful, which boasts a four seasons garden and observatories that offer visitors a view of the city. OK.. maybe next trip.

Shoren-in Temple is open all year round
Visiting hours from 9 am to 5 pm

Entrance fee is 500 yen (adult), 200 yen (child)
Access : From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus #5, or Rakubus #100 to Jingu-michi, and walk about 3 minutes from there

Continuing the walk then brought me to another temple, Chion-in Temple. If Shoren-in is a Tendai sect temple, Chion-in is the head temple of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect of Japanese Buddhism. Go google if you don't understand what are the sects of Japanese Buddhism. I don't really know either but I guess it's like the mazhabs.

Take a look at its main entrance gate, Sanmon Gate. It's so huge! Standing at 24 meters tall and 50 meters wide, it is the largest wooden gate in Japan. Visitors can go up to the inside of the gate to have a look at one of the temple's seven treasures, the Shiraki-no-hitsugi (the plain wood coffins). At first I thought it was free cos I saw quite a number of visitors went up. Only when I was nearby the stairs I found out that it cost 800 yen. Whoaa! That treasure must be reallllly special.

the stairs

The steep flight of stairs behind the gate leads to the main temple grounds. Can you imagine how hard it was for me to climb the stairs? My leg was still recovering from the marathon. Oh the torture!

As I reached the top, a large scaffolding greeted me. Chion-in's main hall, Miedo Hall, is currently undergoing major renovation works that would be completed by 2019. *sigh.. penat panjat tangga*

So I just walked around the area checking out other buildings. As Jodo is the most popular sect in Japan, the temple can be crowded at times but luckily during my visit, it was rather empty. Perhaps due to the renovation works.

A smaller hall, Amidado Hall, houses a statue of Amida Buddha, the most important Buddha in the Jodo sect.

Anyway, the temple, like other temples I visited before, has beautiful gardens. But again, I decided to skip it.

entrance to Yu-Zen Garden

Chion-in Temple is open all year round
Visiting hours from 9 am to 4 pm

Entrance to the temple grounds is free
Access to Sanmon Gate is charged 800 yen (adult), 400 yen (adult)
Access to Yu-Zen Garden is charged 300 yen (adult), 150 yen (child)
Access to Hojo Garden is charged 400 yen (adult), 200 yen (child)
Access : From Kyoto Station, take Kyoto City Bus #206 to Chion-in-mae, and walk about 5 minutes from there

Exiting the temple, I headed to the vending machines lined up at the car park across the Sanmon Gate. I'm always so fascinated with the vending machines in Japan. They have like, everything!

let's drink!

Ready to walk again? Gotta continue in part 2 la.. I have too many pictures to share :) 

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