Day 1: The Botanical Gardens and Shopping District
**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**
After leaving the Imperial Palace we headed towards the botanical gardens. We decided to cover the general central Kyoto area on the first day.It's a little bit north so we hiked up until we found some bridges crossing the river. But before we got there, I couldn't help but notice some nice plants people had on their doorsteps.
The botanical gardens. Entry fee: ¥200
The tickets at the botanical garden rotate monthly, meaning they have a different photo on them every month. Very cool.
And as we went in, they handed us a map also. Pretty nice maps, I must say.
Some shots from the trellis right by the entrance. I think Moo Cow took these while I was in the bathroom. They're so pretty!!!
As we continued, we noticed a bamboo garden. Hooray for bamboo! Moo Cow wanted to find the bamboo forest in Arashiyama, but he loves bamboo so we stopped here for a while to have lunch.
Bamboo shoots. Bamboo can grow up to 36" or so in a day in its natural habitat. We didn't stay long enough to watch this grow.
The tulip garden was fantastic. I loved the patchwork layout of it.
This fountain reminds me of a photo I took at MSU.
We took a goofy photo break. I don't usually do these kinds of photos but I enjoy seeing them when people post them.
After taking a nap in the grass under some shady trees we continued. Then we found these. Are there supposed to be palm trees here? I realized Okinawa is tropical, but Kyoto isn't. But then, maybe it has something to do with the fact that Okinawa *is* tropical. People don't usually realize that part of Japan is indeed tropical. Hmmm... We didn't see the tropical climate, although it was indeed pretty hot.
There was a lovely little area with a hut and a pond. There was a sign that said no photos so I had to snap them quickly. Unfortunately the water was a little dark. And then I tried again when we went around the way, but didn't have much more success. But you can see the white koi if you look hard.
The neat footbridges were scattered throughout. They remind me of Monet's Japanese footbridges. And well they should, I suppose.
There was a cool watermill near one of the footbridges. A photographer was on the other side of it, but I'm pretty sure my photo of the watermill turned out better. ^_~
And one more shot of the pavilion overlooking the koi pond. I really liked that place but there were too many people crowding in for my taste...and for my photo-taking rule-breaking...
I truly don't understand why anyone would sacrifice so many trees to support another one. This one in particular had a lot of trees sacrificed for it. There are others with very large, long trees that couldn't have been salvaged from deadwood. Makes me wonder.
And some cool red clay tiles at the bottom of a stream. It's really quite interesting to observe the different solutions to "problems" that the Japanese as a whole come up with as opposed to "Western" solutions. It seems the Japanese solutions are usually more concerned with aesthetic, while American ones are based on costs, beauty be damned. Granted, this was a national garden so it might have made a difference...I've seen some pretty ugly solutions here too. And...*gasp* a tree stump. Looks like things do die in Japan. Don't be too shocked, heh.
As we left we saw a mountain with the kanji for big on it. We didn't know at the time that it was significant. We also saw it up close later but forgot to take photos. Oops.
While wandering towards our next destination, we found Moo Cow's shrine. Or at least it was a shrine to his brethren. Bwahaha. I made him pose with it.
Afterwards we went to dinner at a nice tofu restaurant, but that'll be covered in the restaurant review I'll be posting next. Once our bellies were full we meandered around town in hopes of finding something interesting before crashing. We then stumbled upon a (the?) shopping district.
There were shrines there too though. So many all over the place, but it's part of the charm in Kyoto.
And some more interesting English. This one's just an odd name for a shop.
The buildings aren't as tall as Tokyo, but that's to be expected.
And of course I found the arcades. They sold cute little fugu (blowfish) there, but oh man, I didn't wanna have to carry one around for the trip. Was so tired! Here's how one of them showed some of the walking prizes off...
And then we found what may have been the red light district. Lots of clubs and shady places. We later found out it was near Gion, but we didn't know that at the time. Not exactly, anyway.
Moo Cow was more interested in the waterways everywhere. We think they may have been a waste removal system a long time ago.
And then Kani Doraku. Not something special to Kyoto, but the signs don't usually move like this in Tokyo.
And here's a video of it!