Monday, September 19, 2005

Day trip to Kyoto

Today is a public holiday. Respect for the Aged Day to be exact.

So I decided to head into Kyoto and so some sightseeing. Bought myself a bus/subway day pass and first stop was Nijo Castle. It's been highly recommended and I've been meaning to check it out for ages.

Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the official residence of the first Tokugawa Shoun, Ieyasu. It's listed on The World Heritage List of UNESCO and is pretty impressive with beautiful gardens, ponds, a stagnant moat that looks like bright green tea broth surrounding the Ninomaru Palace and the Honmaru Palace. The inner moat surrounding the Honmaru Palace is more alive with giant ass koi happily swimming with white swans. No photos were allowed inside the palaces but the tatami rooms with painted sliding doors were beautiful.

The highlight would have to be the 'nightingale floor' which the shogun used to prevent intruders from sneaking in. The wooden floors are designed to 'squeek' when trod upon, making bird-like noises such as from a nightingale. I was trying my very best to creep around ninja-like but you never knew which part of the floor would squeek. Clever. I also stopped by a little tea room in the gardens and for 600 yen, was served a nice adzuki bean sweet and green tea. Just like tea ceremony class.

My second stop was to another World Heritage site, Kinkakuji Temple (Rokuon-ji Temple) aka The Golden Pavilion. It was built in 1937 by Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shogun of Ashikaga. A golden Chinese phoenix sits on top of the roof and the temple is gilded with gold-leaf. The temple overlooks the Kyouko-chi pond (Mirror pond) and is surrounded by a beautiful garden and has a shrine, Fudo-do, dedicated to the god of fire.

As soon as I got off the bus and entered the gates, it all came back to me and I remembered this was where I had tasted my first green tea ice cream soft serve. This was second time visiting Kinkakuji. When I first came to Japan on a school exchange, we visited heaps of temples and shrines. I remember trying a bit of Jasmine's green tea ice cream and it being the most deliciously refreshing thing ever. I wanted to go off and buy one but our tour bus had arrived. So this time round after taking photos of the temple (it really is a beautiful sight), walking through the gardens and perusing through the gift shop (it was exactly the same one I had been in before, it was so surreal) I went straight to the ice cream shop and bought myself a green tea ice cream soft serve cone.

I was afraid it wasn't going to taste as good as I had remembered. But it was the most deliciously refreshing thing ever.


At 7:00 pm, Blogger Girl Kae said...

Your photos look gorgeous babe! Japan is sooo beautiful! And i love some of their holidays - aged day, that funny 357 (i cant remember the exact number) day, kiddies days... ! I wish we had more holidays here in perth :(

At 10:25 pm, Blogger Loreen said...

Ahhh...this brings back memories! There isn't a week that goes by that Felix and/or I do not talk about the food in Japan...can you express mail some "shabu shabu" over??

At 6:53 pm, Anonymous andy said...

mmmmm! green tea soft serve.. nice!
=)~ droolling alredy

At 3:39 pm, Blogger cat said...

Wow I'm in awe... I LOVE green tea ice cream.. why doesn't maccas make green tea soft serve?

At 11:52 pm, Blogger Christine said...

Kae - Yeah, it really is gorgeous. Definately agree that Oz needs more public holidays..funny, random ones too!

Loreen - haha yes the food here is amazing! it's cooling down so it's shabu shabu time again! yee-har! I also discovered a yakiniku joint near my place by the station!

Andy - And it tastes even better than what it looks like! =P

Cat - They should hey?! you can get green tea ANYTHING here... especially in Kyoto. Green tea parfait, biscuits, ice cream, chiffon cake, pudding..etc Yummo!

Hope you guys are doing well, thanks for dropping by.


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