Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kyoto, I'm Spent

Whew, what a day.

First off I went to Sanjusan Gendo, or 33 Gendo. This temple is home of the longest wooden structure in Japan to date. And inside this beast of architecture, there are 1001 statues of buddah, or kannon or something, lined up in 2, 50 columns of 10 rows a piece on each side of a giant statue of Buddah, with 28 gaurdian something or others lined up in front of all that. What a spectacle. I wish I could have taken some pictures inside, but its forbidden. Found a descent picture like I would have liked to take online though.

But oh boy am I unbelieveably tired right now. Since I receieved an extra day here in Kyoto, I thought I might use my extra time to do something that takes a little bit of extra time. So in Kyoto, they have this thing going where there are kanji written, or rather, carved into the moutainsides of the moutains surrounding the city. And on a special festival on the 16th of this month (I'll already be back in Tokyo) they set them aflame. Cool.

Well the most famous of these characters is very simple. The kanji for big or great 'dai.' Check out more information on good ol Wikipedia. This kanji rests on the side of Daimonji-yama, or Mount Daimonji, which actually litterally translates to, Big Character Mountain, which is exactly what it is, a mountain with the character big on it. The mountain itself is only 466 m tall, so its doeable to get up to the top in under 2 hours. Its also said that it has the best view of Kyoto city. I had some free time, so I climbed up to the top.

Oh boy was it hot out. I think I singed my neck a little bit more red today, but whatever. The climb up the mountain was extremely tiring, but I've gotta say, its really nice to get out of the city and imerse yourself into nature. I got some really cool shots from within the mountain side. It almost felt like I went back to being a boyscout for a day. It took me about an hour, hour and a half to get up to the top...


Hands down the best view of Kyoto. Waaay off in the distance, I could see the tall Kyoto Tower I had gone up in a couple days before... looked pretty small. Course I was 4.6 times higher than Kyoto Tower. The only downfall was that it was kinda hazy out, so it was difficult getting some good shots from the vantage point. Actually, there were 2 observation points. 1 which was almost to the top that actually had a small sctructure and everything, which I believe is directly above the 'dai' character. The other point, the top, is about 10 minutes or so further, but all there is, is a small sign tucked away on a tree saying 'Mt Daimonji, 466 m' and a few benches at the observation spot. The scenery was still to die for, wow.

It was at this point that I had taken my shirt off though, as it was completely soaked in sweat. Sorry for the image there, but it was really rediculously hot out!!! After resting at the top for 30 min to an hour, I thought I might continue on down the trail that lead off to the opposite side, rathr than retrace my steps. Well I asked an elderly gentleman who had also just reached the top how long it takes to get down going the opposite path. Long story short he lead me down the mountain, which was a really good thing, cause the opposite path split off I dont know how many times, oy vey.

And after that, he eventually became almost my 'tourguide' showing me around Nyakuoji Shrine, Nanzenji Shrine, this aqueduct from Bizen lake, Chionin Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruya Park, Kodaiji Temple, and the streets of Gion. Only thing was, we walked to all of them. I am unblieveably tired. He did treat me to Kakigori, or basically the Japanese version of a snow cone.

Very interesting gentleman though. 75 years old and climbs that mounain once every 3 days. Unbelieable. But hey, he made a good tour guide. Walking through Gion in particular was very interesting though. Gion is kind of like, the surviving old traditional part of Kyoto, buildings wise. And apparently if you're lucky, you can catch a shot of a Geisha walking through the streets. Very interesting place.

Well after that I headed back to Kyoto station, and came to that free Internet place where I am now, writing this blog. Its just about time I head back to the station and get on a train for Osaka though. I'm supposed to meet my friend at a McDonalds a little before 11. Then, free lodging!! Woo!! The best a poor student traveler like myself could hope for!!

But I gotta say, all in all, I've really fallen in love with Kyoto. What a beautiful city this is. I hope sometime I can come back in a different season, or catch a festival or something. I'd really like to visit in the winter sometime if I ever get the chance.

Thanks Kyoto, its been great


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