13 Sep

Temple Hopping and Simple Beauty in Kyoto

We have spent a blissful week in Kyoto roaming from temple to temple, wandering the meandering back streets on our bikes, and trying as many different foods as we can.

I have learned a few things although not at all what I expected:

  • I expected to learn about Japanese history. Instead I learned that, although I appreciate the depth of history here I am not interested in studying it. At some point old is just old, and really old is really old. As a Canadian old is in the 200 year range, here we’re talking centuries and centuries – it gets a little lost on me.
  • I expected to learn about Buddhism and Shintoism and their relation to each other. Instead I learned that I truly am an atheist and I don’t understand monotheistic Christianity so how would I ever understand the non-theistic Buddhism or the animistic every-rock-tree-and-animal-is-a-spirit Shintoism?
  • I expected to try lots of different foods, to take fabulous photos of our meals, and be able to report about how fabulous it all is. We have, indeed, tried lots of different foods but I learned that I suck at food photography and lack the poetic description that would accompany the amazing photos I can’t take. This, I suppose, is why I am not a food blogger.
  • I expected to see beauty here, and there is plenty, although I have learned that most of the cities are concrete block jungles. The beauty is hidden away in the details of the old, traditional homes and buildings, in small private gardens, and behind temple walls. It’s not hard to find though.

It is a place best told about in pictures.

Kyoto Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Kyoto Arashiyama

Arashiyama District

Ponto-cho Dori Kyoto

Ponto-cho Dori Near Gion

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Kyoto Koto-in Temple

Koto-in Temple

Kyoto Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple


I don’t remember where this was!

Kyoto Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion)

Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion)

Kyoto Arashiyama Garden

Arashiyama District Garden

Kyoto Honen-In Temple

Honen-In Temple

Kyoto Nanzenji Temple

Nanzenji Temple

Kyoto Honen-In Temple

Honen-In Temple Grounds

Kyoto Geiko (Geisha)

The ultimate in grace and beauty, we glimpse a Geiko (Geisha) in Gion.


9 thoughts on “Temple Hopping and Simple Beauty in Kyoto

  1. I read somewhere that taking pictures of food and making it look appealing and interesting was one of the hardest things to do in photography. I’m sure there are differing opinions on this, but for me, it’s very hard..and I AM a food blogger.

    Oh expectations strike again. At least it looks like those pesky little suckers aren’t getting in the way of appreciating your visit.
    Carmel recently posted..Mom’s birthday dinner

  2. Pingback: Temple Lodging in Koya-san: Shojoshin-in

  3. We were just in Koyoto for two days the last week of August. The number of temples was over whelming. We hired a cabbie for a few hours and he helped us understand the prayers at the various shrines and taught us how to pray. I guess the Gods didn’t mind as no one struck us down with lightening.
    I hope you get a chance to go to Hiroshima. I would love to read your comments about the Peace Memorial. It left me a little vaclempted and teary eyed.
    I don’t know where I got the impression that the Japanese were passive zen people. I guess I never paid attention to Asian history and the various land battles between China, Korea and Japan. Travelling Japan was a great eye opener to history, the culture and the people.

  4. Gillian, it is like you have a special wormhole directly to my brain. We loved Kyoto, but the first two points on your list are ones we came to feel as well during our month in Japan! :)

    But really, it’s hard to say a bad thing about Kyoto, isn’t it when it’s such a spectacularly beautiful place? I mean, large swaths of it are unremarkable, but the temples and some of the surrounding areas really are that slice of Japan I think everyone wants to catch a glimpse of! (And we didn’t see half the stuff you did in Kyoto!)

  5. Thank you for your honesty! Sometimes I really want to know the history of the places I travel to, whether I read about it before or after or learn it along the way, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem important. I’m not a religious person either, and while I find it interesting to learn pieces of other religions (I even took an eastern religions class in college) I have no need to learn any of them in any great depth.
    Ali recently posted..Disadvantages of Taking a Tour

  6. My name is Santiago from Barcelona,

    I’m doing a guidebook of Japan without any profit because I will not publish it, maybe one day I’ll put it on the network so it can be seen by other people and so help if traveling to Japan.

    My request is: I can use photo from Honen-in garden temple from you. Of course, in the title of the picture will show the source

    I’ve seen your photos and really are very nice.

    Thank you very much

    Best Regards


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