Saturday, December 21, 2013

Autumn in Kyoto - Day 2 (23 Nov 2013)

Our group photo at the Byodo-in Temple grounds

Today is D-Day, Japan's Labor Thanksgiving Day, and we're all geared up to meet the crowds. Just how bad can it get? Our first stop is a very popular temple called Tofukuji. We intentionally scheduled a trip to the outskirts of Kyoto to avoid the crowds in the city itself, with the exception of this temple. We figured that if we arrived here early, we can miss the crowds. Lesson learned - Japanese people wake up very early!

Trudging along like army ants, and we are just following the crowd

We left our hotel at 8am, and caught the bus from in front of our hotel to Tofukuji. It was strange, the bus had seats for us! When we got down, we saw not many people around. What's going on? Maybe this isn't that bad after all. We walked and rounded the corner, and we found the rest of the army ants. Looking up and down the trail of army ants, we saw no end to the queue. We just joined in and walked along with them. After paying the 350¥ entrance fees, we found even more people if that were possible. It was really amusing to enjoy this temple with the crowds. Once again, let the photos do the talking.

This is the first shot we tried to get inside Tofukuji Temple

This is the crowd we had to get through to get the previous shot

And this is the view from the opposite side of the first shot

What's going on? Wait, this is the ONLY WAY OUT OF HERE??

Poor cameraman had to lug his equipment through the crowds

People are everywhere in the photos

From here, we chose to take a nice stroll to the town of Inari. This is the namesake of the Japanese sushi item that looks like a tofu skin. Being really afraid of the crowd, we found our lunch restaurant at 10:30am, and it was open. So we had "lunch" at 10:30am instead kekeke.

Freshly made inari skin

Nezameya Restaurant - operating since 1592!


Our main purpose here was to visit the Fushimi Inari shrine. We saw many many photos of people posing in front of these arch-like orange shrines. But why do my photos all have people in them?? Each shrine has a corporation or someone's name written behind it, which I believe is the person who donated for that particular pillar. Very impressive with over 500 of these.

Soooooooo cute (the one on the right)

You tell me, how to get a nice signature shot here??

Waiting patiently for us gals shopping outside Fushimi Inari shrine. Surprisingly good shopping here!
Our next stop is the town of Uji, which some believe is where green tea originated from. If you have seen any green tea Kit Kat, it would say it uses green tea from Uji. And of course we had to have some green tea ice cream here. But alas, all the famous shops had a minimum 1 hour queue! So we settled for something not-so-famous, but the taste was also not-so-nice.

A vending machine for batteries. No it doesn't work anymore.

Shopping for green tea at Byodo-In Shopping Street
We had fun shopping for green tea at the Byodo-in Shopping Street at Uji. The tea here was quite different from the green tea that I know, very heavy but natural earthy flavour. We also dropped by the beautiful Byodo-In temple. Byodo-In Temple is actually featured on the 10¥ coin, but unfortunately it was under construction when we went. Therefore main attraction for Byodo-In to me was the museum inside, but no photos were allowed. There were statues of floating Buddhas gathered in a very zen-like area, and Japanese were queuing to touch this statue. You must remove all trinkets from your arm, and start by touching the top of the head, to the feet of the statue. After which, go to another queue to register your name in a log book and get a certificate at having touched this God. So I am uncertain whether this was a museum, or a place of worship for them, but it made me feel at peace there.

On the grounds of Byodo-In Temple

This is a famous author's statue, who wrote The Tale of Genji - sometimes called the world's first novel

A very famous green tea dessert shop. But, more than 1 hour to wait

So we went in and ta-pao this instead. Very nice!
After a long day, we had fun shopping at Uniqlo who was having a huge sale for HEATTECH items from 22-24 Nov in conjunction with the long weekend. Perfect for me to stock up on winter items for my upcoming trip. We ended the day with some random walk into a seafood don shop.

Our seafood dinner for 4 came to 4310¥. Not bad for that much seafood.

Other posts in this series:
Autumn in Kyoto 2013 - Planned Itinerary
Autumn in Kyoto - Day 1 (22 Nov 2013)
Autumn in Kyoto - Day 2 (23 Nov 2013)
Autumn in Kyoto - Day 3 (24 Nov 2013)
Autumn in Kyoto - Day 4 (25 Nov 2013)
Autumn in Kyoto - Day 5 Final (26 Nov 2013) 

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