Day 1: Arrival and Imperial Palace
**note: all images (as well as additional ones) are also at flickr, with additional commentary, click on any photo to go to its flickr page if you want to make comments**
To get to Kyoto we decided to take the cheapest method possible; the night bus. The tickets were ¥4300 plus additional fees (anywhere from ¥500 to ¥2000) depending on peak times. Inside this flier there was a chart detailing the dates and fees, as well as departure times and locations, etc. Very useful, but only in Japanese, so not useful if you don't speak the language. Same thing for the people you call to make reservations; no English support.
Sorry the ticket back is a bit blurry...
Starting out was fun, although the bus could've been more comfortable, honestly we arrived in good shape. It was a bit chilly so we tried to keep moving in the wee hours. The McDonald's at the station wasn't open yet because we arrived before 6am.
Our first point of business was to make a game plan for the day and eat some food. Moo Cow had the good foresight to bring his LonelyPlanet guidebook for Japan. It came in pretty handy.
Once we figured out a basic outline of our day we headed north. For the first day we decided we wanted to see the Imperial Palace. In all it was rather disappointing, but that's to be expected of something that isn't in use anymore, heh. On our way there we saw the first of many temples.
Higashi Honganjii is a temple of a branch of Pure Land Buddhism. Here's the blurb from the plaque that was in a bunch of languages...
The is the mother temple of the Shinshu Otani-ha, a branch of Pure Land Buddhism, called Shinshu Hombyo, generally known as Higashi (East) Hoganji to distinguish it from Nishi (West) Honganji. Honganji originates from the time when Kakushin-ni, the youngest daughter of founder Shinran (1173-1262) built a mausoleum at Higashiyama Otani to enshrine her father's portrait in 1272. In 1591, Kennyo, the 11th abbot of Honganji, received land from Toyotomi Hideyoshi and built a temple (now Nishi Honganji)in Shichijo Horikawa. However, in 1602, Tokugawa Ieyasu donated this site in Karasuma Rokujo, where Kyonyo, the 12th abbot, constructed another temple complex. Thus, Honganji was divided into two major branches. The present temple halls were rebuilt in 1895, during the Meiji period. The Goei-do (Founder's Hall), in which the image of Shinran is kept, is one of the largest wooden buildings in the world.
It was early so it wasn't actually all that interesting/busy, plus there was construction inside...but there was a cool fountain across the street.
And a small nifty shrine on the way too. I don't know what my obsession is with these little shrines, but they're all over Japan.
Some of the Engrish here is amazing. Would you like some morning scorn?
We then went to the Imperial Palace, like I said. It was quite a trek to get there. Since this was supposed to be a very cheap trip we decided to walk everywhere. Yep. Tiring though, jeez.
We saw some grass. It was super exciting...since Tokyo seems to lack this stuff...
So I hopped around.
...and Moo Cow meditated.
I saw a tree I really wanted to climb. Didn't do it though...didn't need to get arrested.
Moo Cow took photos of me as I napped on a bench (and his lap, oops).
Trees can't support themselves, obviously.
Short doorways. Not sure why this door is so short, but it's my height perfectly. Moo Cow suggested I'm about as tall as the Japanese people who built it. I think it has more to do with having to bow to get into the gate.
And that's it's for the first installment of day 1. Next up is the botanical gardens. ^_^;