JAPAN 2015: Day 5 - Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.

Hello hello! We're still in beautiful Kyoto. Temple and shrine visits are a must-do here. I had time to wander around the other day and stumbled upon random ones but today, we'll get down to business and see the most famous and top-rated places in Kyoto.

April 11th, 11AM - Ryoanji Temple (龍安寺, Ryōanji), Kyoto.

Firstly, the famous zen rock/dry garden and my personal favorite, Ryoanji. The picture above shows the pond surrounding the temple and is not actually the temple yet. Why I absolutely adore this place is because in addition to the temple itself, you will find various breathtaking views in the area. Let's start with the pond area:

 Same pond, different framings.

The place is also rich in greens. Tall trees surrounded paths and luscious moss covered the ground. I can almost smell the fresh air and serenity from here. It's a huge place, so it won't feel overcrowded. However, I'll still recommend to visit early in the day or at the end of the day for best experience.

Mosses and sakura petals look so good together.

These are all the views on the way to the temple. Now, let's go see the temple.

The Kuri building, previously the temple kitchen, now serves as the main entrance.

Miniature of the rock garden, providing a bird's-eye view of the layout. You can try to zen-out and interpret the garden's meaning, but the popular interpretation is "a tiger carrying cubs and crossing river/pond/sea".

The actual garden. The sakura tree makes the view more spectacular.

Behind-the-scenes. Since no one is allowed to step foot onto the lower area, people gather at the corridor to take pictures and stuff. Not so zen after all eh? If you really want to zen, come early in the morning or right before closing time.

Leaving the temple.

It's not the end of beautiful sceneries yet. Ryoanji has gardens on the path out too. I was not expecting it at all and was in such awe of the views.

How can I not? I stepped out, thinking the visit is over, and was greeted by this. 

I've never seen an exit path look so welcoming.

The stuff HD TVs in the stores have on display.

Almost entirely covered by petals.

Close-up of the mosses.

Alright, that's all for Ryoanji. Moving on to the next attraction, but before that..

Ice-cream break!

April 11th, 12PM - Kinkakuji (金閣寺, Golden Pavilion), Kyoto.
This is the magnificent Golden Pavilion that is completely covered in gold leaf (top 2 floors). 

It is one of the highest rated attraction in Kyoto. I can see why, this place is super photogenic. But that's about all. Personally, I ranked it rather low in my list because taking photo is all you can do there. Almost like camping across the Angkor Wat puddle for a photo, only this time it's across a pond. From the photos, you can't tell how many people are there with their tripods and selfie sticks, but there are many.

It was a touch-and-go visit for most people, 15 minutes top. We entered and were directed to the photo-taking spot, where everyone else is. The Golden Pavilion is so far across the pond but it looks amazing with its surroundings. 

The other photo spot with a closer look of the structure. Kinkakuji is yet another Zen temple and believe it or not, it has burned down many times throughout history (since 1400's!) This structure you see here was rebuilt in 1955.

The first floor is built in the Shinden style used for palace buildings during the Heian Period. The second floor is built in the Bukke style used in samurai residences.The third floor is built in the Chinese Zen Hall style, with a golden phoenix on top some more!

On the way out, you can see the White Snake Pagoda, a small structure in the middle of the pond. 

Outside, there's a small rest area with souvenir stands and FOOD, of course.

Dango covered in sesame sauce and a sprinkle of gold flakes. After seeing the Golden Pavilion, must eat some gold also ma, correct?

Mitarashi dango - chewy bland dango with sweet-salty sauce.

Okay, since this post is so lengthy thanks to the pictures, I'll call it a day for now! See you again, hopefully in a day or two!


Day 0.5 - Getting There. And Tsukiji.
Day 1 - Ueno Park. “Hana Yori Dango”.
Day 1 - Sensoji. And an Adventure at Night.
Day 2 - All Things Ghibli (Museum).
What to do when you lose your JR Pass.
[SHORTS]: My First Airbnb Experience.
Day 4 - Hello Kyoto! (Intro).
Day 4 - Eastern and Downtown Kyoto.
Day 5 - Ryoanji and Kinkakuji.
Day 5 - Arashiyama and HORSE SASHIMI?
Day 6 - Fushimi Inari-taisha and Nishiki Market.
Day 7 - Gotta Catch 'Em All in Osaka (Pokemon Center) and Mint Bureau's Nighttime Sakuras.
Day 8 - Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
Day 9 - Universal Studios Japan.
Day 10 - Osaka Castle, Den Den Town, Dotonbori.
Day 11 - 10 Days Japan Itinerary (Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka).


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