Day 6: Kyoto part 2

15th October 2007

So after a good rest (and making some adjustment to my plans) I decided to visit the East side of Kyoto today and the West side tomorrow.

I woke up at 3am that day and went through the routine of cleaning my gear and plotting my route. It was also the first time I slept in a futon since arriving in Japan and I must say the experience was great! it was comfortable and absolutely relaxing!

I took a shot of the view outside of my window at 4am to test my gear.

A lovely view early in the morning.
Though one thought kept me from truly appreciating this view, “would I see any koyo today?”. The night before I asked the people at the hotel whether this was possible but again Koyo would only come to Kyoto in November and not in October (this really brought down my moral quite a bit).

In any event, I resolve to do the following today:

  1. Walk along the Philopsopher’s walk
  2. Go to Ginkaku-ji shrine
  3. Kiyomizu-dera
  4. explore eastern Gion
  5. become a dragon slayer (blame Lucky star for this :P).

So after going through another gear check and saddle and departed at 5am for the Kyoto central station where I would head to Shijo Kawaramchi.

But first! A stop at the vending machine right outside the Ryokan to stock up on some provisions for today’s journey!

The streets were empty! GOOD!

The sun was starting to rise up as I made my way to the Kyoto central station and the view was fantastic! I had wished that there was a place high up I could climb to take this fantastic view! I made a note to myself to try a find any place I could go to for tomorrow to get the beautiful sunrise!

Riding the escalator up to the central bus station I found myself dying to get to a high spot to get that shot.

I then managed to reach the bus stop which is behind the Kyoto central station, I then looked for the bus I needed to take to get to the Shijo Kawaramachi point (where I then could walk the way to the first location of the day). I needed to take bus number 4 on platform A1.

I then looked up and lo and behold I saw this!

A tower that overlooked Kyoto, excellent! It would be a perfect view spot to take an early morning shot tomorrow! I would go there tomorrow morning, climb up and take the shot! But for now I have other plans.

The ride on the bus was so and easy although I notice that the bus driver would turn off the engine while waiting at the traffic light and turn it back on when it was green. I guess this is to conserve fuel? But wouldn’t turning it on and off be just as wasteful? Hmm

I then reach my stop and got off but not before I got a nice tour of what I can expect to see in Kyoto which is beautiful! The sun was rising ever further into the sky which gave everything a nice and warm color cast! Oh YEAH I LOVE IT! It was also very cold and nice!

Today the weather was going to place nice with me. ^_^

I kept checking my location and bearings every 15 minutes so as to make sure I did not lose my way to the start of the Philosopher’s walk which was Nanzenji.

The view was very refreshing, clean and neat.

Then suddenly when I came to this tree I saw something……a hint of golden/reddish leafs….GASP! It was autumn leafs AKA koyo! Though it was too high for my camera I did take some shot of it (which sadly did not turn out well hence I did not display it here). It was a positive sign nonetheless!

Though at about 7am, I had trouble getting my bearings as I couldn’t find any identifiable landmarks to match up with my map. I keep going up and down the road looking for a landmark of sort or at least a street sign (I did find some…..in Japanese >_<).

Eventually I stopped and (hopefully) asked for directions from a police on duty where was the Nanzen-ji temple. The guy kindly pointed me to the right way and I thanked him and continued on. For those looking for the place, this small shrine is at the location at the turn you need you take.

Although I had bought some food at the Family mart before I began my day to eat, I was still hungry and it was little over 7am.

*hungry* *hungry*

*hungry* *hungry* Oh flowers!

Closer and closer, *hungry*

Damn, I’m really hungry. Guess I have no choice, I have to eat the salami sticks I bought.

Some shots I took along the way.

After walking for a while I started to see more and more koyo along the way.

Not much but better then what I have seen so far.

I soon reached the Nanzen-ji shrine and luckily it was still very (7:30am) so there was not many people.

As always the place was quiet and peaceful, a great place to relax and be lost in thought as you take in the sights

Hmm, still no sign of any pure red koyo but the place’s natural beauty made up for this.

You know, I wish I had bought a wider lens. Perhaps the sigma 10-20mm would have been a better idea then the 17-35mm I have. Well it’s either that or I get a full frame camera.

Can someone translate what the sign says? Though I think it says “keep off the grass”?

Tip here, never be shy when you have a camera, else you’re going to miss some great chance for photos like I did. I had walked up to this when I saw 3 monks walking in a line by the central white path in the photos, imagine how good the photo would have been had I taken but I was too chicken! Hence now I still regret not taking it!!!!

Then I saw this, I spent quite a while trying to get it right but failed miserably.

So then I decide to go with some traditional style, KOYO! I was so happy to see this!

Velvia100_0005

I decided to use film for a few shots, but I had to be careful with how many shots I made as I had only brought 3 rolls with me that day.

I think this is my favorite koyo shot I took using film! But you be the judge and tell me what you think.

It was 8am by the time I finish taking pics there, only 30 minutes…hmm I must be bored. So I decide to move on and head for the philosopher’s path.

The gate that lead to the path (from behind)

More Koyo, this was really my day!!

This was the entrance to the Eikan-do shrine

I was having a field day!!

The entry fee was cheap (I can’t remember but I know it was cheap because it didn’t annoyed at the time).

I read somewhere that the hill behind here, visitors could climb up and see a great landscape view of kyoto.

the path leading to the stairway was very dark so I had to pumped the ISO up to the max to get any decent exposure

The stairway.

Can someone tell me what that is?! I’m told it’s a wisp?! I didn’t see it when I took the shot only after I looked at the preview later did I noticed it.

I managed to reach the top and the view was beautiful! I so wish I had a wider angle lens then but sadly I didn’t. After taking some shots, I went back down.

Though that doesn’t mean there weren’t anymore sights to take as I saw this on my way out.

MORE KOYO! YES!

The small shrine located on that small island shown in the photo before this one.

PhotoReview: I did some tuning in lightroom and tried to replicate the effect of Fortia SP with digital, I wonder if I managed to do it correctly. Still, even if I did not the effect here is very nice.

The walk along the shishigatani-dori was very uneventful. I did remember talking to a nice old lady as I got lost a bit and had to backtrack when I missed the turn.

I had tried to go to a restaurant but they weren’t open yet. I was quite hungry since I did a lot of walking and climbing back at the eikan-do. It was 9:15am.

At first I thought I should have turned here but it lead to some other place that was not marked on the map so I’m not sure.

This was the actual turn I had to take

Some bonus shot on the way, what are these flowers called?

I soon reached my destination.

Layout was pretty simple, and I would be able to get to see one of Kyoto’s famous landmarks Ginkaju-ji. Now why did I wanted to walk this path so bad? No reason, just wanted some place to go to, I could have spent my whole day walking around Gion instead but here I am.

I’ll be honest here, unless you’re walking this path during the Cherry blossom season, this is very boring as there isn’t anything to see here. I wasn’t the only tourist here though, I saw a few number of westerners as well.

This was a rest stop but I decided against resting here as I still could cover more ground. Though I was hungry.

I had bought some of this to eat along the way, pretty dry and it made me very thirsty. I never did managed to finish it. Does anyone know what these are?

Took this one while on one of the many bridges.

This I found outside of a toyshop along the way.

I soon reached the T junction that lead to the Ginkaku-ji. Dang, there were a lot of people, well I didn’t find it surprising. It was 10:30am by then.

Seeing I had walked so far, I decided to find something to eat and saw this by the windows of one of the many restaurants that lined the path leading to the Ginkaku-ji.

FOOD! Tip here, if you can’t read what the words say, take a picture of it using your digital cam and then show the picture to the waiter or waitress so they know what you want without having to know how to read it. heheheeheh.

Yeah, the food matches the picture. Unlike in Malaysia

I swear there is something wrong here, right after I took this pic, people started to swarm in. Do they sense someone is taking a pic and then disappear? I should have taken another pic but I was tired and hungry so I let it slipped.

After having a hearty meal, it was time to continue my journey. So packing up (after I transfered all the shots to my epson p3000 unit), I headed out.

Oh that is soooo asking for trouble if this place was in Malaysia! haahahaha. Malaysians have a sick twisted reverse psychology in which if you tell them to do something, they will do the exact opposite.

Fortunately I don’t have that sick problem.

A little background describing about it.

And here is an overview map of the place!

Also due to how fragile the zen gardens are, no tripods are allowed to be used as you may accidentally damage it if the tripod tips over.

The full entrance

the long corridor leading to the zen garden first then only the ginkaku-ji

1000 yen to enter if I recall correctly.

The crowd there was very big so it made taking photos a bit hard.

Okay, at this point I so wished I had really bought the sigma 10-20mm as my 17-35 was not wide enough.

It would have been more impressive had I been able to get a wider shoot but this was the only clear shot I could get as there were a lot of people.

Still, as the line move along I managed to get some better shots. Also the sun was getting higher and higher so things started to get a bit washed out.

I like how the place is well maintained. Guess they put the entrance fees to good use instead of winding in some politician’s fat pocket.

The only clear shot of the ginkaku-ji I could get without some tourist with a tire waist standing in my way with their puny camera handphones.

With the last shot, it was time to leave and head to my next destination.

the exit

On my way out I decided to grab some custard puffs to eat. These can also be found in Malaysia but heck I I kinda like them better here. Much more suited for the weather.

From here I was back at the end of the philosopher’s path. I then took a bus to my destination as I was very far away. Kiyomisudera. I also had finished shooting a roll of film. Sadly none of the shot really came out looking great except for the koyo shots.

The bus ride was really cramped and long but I didn’t mind it. At least it was on time and I get to see more of the life here that way.

I was a bit surprised as I had expected to see a lot of people.

I have no idea why this is here.

I spoke too soon, I saw the crowd up ahead.

A map of the place.

and I notice the road was getting narrower.

OHHH food! I decided to grab something to eat as the aroma was simply irresistible.

YUM YUM! I have no idea what these are but they tasted great!

I finally then hit the human traffic that had gathered there…….

A monk asking for alms? I gave some after taking this pic

There were a lot of school kids, really a lot. I’m not joking here people!

There were a lot of shops that lined the path leading up so if you have a lot of things to try out if you’re there.

I have finally reached the top! Yeah!

I then sat down on a nearby bench and put away my digital camera and took out my nikon fm2n to load in a new roll of film. Now I know that my fm2n camera looks very old fashion and small and not really intimating, but this camera can really take a lot of beating. So what happen next was really funny.

While I was reloading my film, some guy must have taken notice of me (well yes, I’m that type of guy that draws a lot of attention even though I don’t mean to. But then I was wearing training gloves so I guess that draws a lot of annoying attention sometimes) a western tourist (American? Didn’t sound British nor Australian judging from the accent) tried to strike up a “nice conversation” with me.

He started off the conversation with the “hi, fine weather we’re having today?” I replied with a monotone yes. At this point I think he confirmed that I spoke and understood English. He definitely noticed my film camera and I noticed the DSLR hanging around his neck. A Nikon D80

with the nikkor 18-135 kit lens.

His next line started out like this, it was at this point I realized why he wanted to talk. “Wow! is that a film camera?” to which I replied with a monotone “yes” as I was opening another film up. “what the hell do you think it was? A hand grenade?” I thought to myself.

At this point, most “guys” would just simply ignore him. His next few sentences went on about how surprise he was to still see someone still using a film camera on then started to talk about how his Nikon D80 was so cool as it was digital and all and got it at a bargain and how it didn’t needed film.

“Okay” I thought to myself, now this has gotten personal. He’s trying to play the penis comparison game here and has just insulted me. Time for my comeback as I put back my film camera and pulled out my Fujifilm s5 pro with sigma 70-200mm lens with the MB-200 uber size battery attachment. I could literally hear his testicles rescind into his body as he saw the “penis envy” that my DIGITAL camera was and after he literally insulted me saying how old fashion I was for using film.

I got up and left him standing there as he gawked at what I was using. I then proceed to purchase a ticket into the Kiyomizudera. I so wished CC was here to have seen this. Tip here: Do not play that game, you have no idea what people are going to pull out of bags the same size as mine.

The view there was simply breathtaking!

The place was very lively with people although among all the noise I heard something that caught me by surprised. Bahasa Malaysia, the language of Malaysia (duh!). Though the next thing I heard literally made me flinch! Hokkian >_

I then decided to try my luck at being a DragonSlayer. Blame Lucky star for that ^_^. Nope couldn’t lift it either hahaahahahahh because if I did I would have used it on some “noisy” people.

I then went inside the temple (where you had to take off your shoes to enter) and took some shots. Base on my previous experience I decided not to use flash and instead once again pump up ISO to the max! Tip here, not using flash can be quite and interesting test of your skill to use available light. So go for it! I then later discovered that photography is actually NOT allowed inside but only after I had left (YIKES!)

A shot of people buying incense to pray.

A shot over the railing of the people below drinking from the fountain. Not sure what it is. Blessing ritual I guess.

I then went around to take in the sights and how people go about their lives. This the part of any vacation to a foreign country that I like, hence I try to blend into the background to see how things work here. I had a great time.

Especially when I nailed this shot perfectly!

The place I shot from above just now at worm level.

I stayed around for a while and just enjoyed the laughter from the many school kids that were around. There was another shot I took but for the love of heaven I still can’t find it @_@. It was a pic of a group of school kids (girls) enjoying themselves and among them was a child with down syndrome. They all looked so happy as they all held hands, regardless of her problem, something one can really find themselves smiling.

It’s simply amazing that they can look past her down syndrome and be friends with her so well. This is why sometimes I find the culture back home (especially among chinese) cruel and insensitive.

Well the objective of today has been completed, it was 1:30pm and I felt exhausted. So it was time to head back to the Ryoken. So here are 2 more shots for today.

I then took a bus back to the kyoto central station.

then bought something to eat on the way and headed back.

Today had been quite good as the weather was sunny and I finally got some koyo shots! As well as visited the major places I wanted to go. I reached back at about 2:15pm then decided to catch some sleep. I was VERY tired.

That concludes today’s entry for Kyoto day 2. Tomorrow I will be visiting the West side so until then, pleasant dreams~!

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