December 06, 2015

Back to Kyoto (Gion district , Golden temples and barefoot evenings on Tatami mats)

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We returned from Nara to Kyoto late the following night and once we dropped off bags at our hostel we ventured out to the Gion (Geisha) district and on to the riverside in search of something to eat and to kick start our next three jam-packed days exploring everything this city has to offer.

Waking early the  next day we took another very hot and rather sticky bus ride up to the north west of the city to the Golden temple. A temple coated in gold leaf that shimmers in the morning light, it is made even more magical being situated on the edge of the lake, with a perfect reflection adding to the already magical setting.

Once you have marvelled at this incredible temple you are then encouraged to make your way down the road a mile or so to a Zen garden. You can wander barefoot around the temple, take a few deep breaths and relax, if you shut one eye to the tourists surrounding you, you really can feel the serenity of these famous gardens and of course understand why Japanese elements of landscape gardening feature in so many beautiful gardens around the world.  

Gravel is neatly raked in methodical lines and circles giving the landscape a beautiful pattern.

Feeling extremely relaxed and in need of some food we opted for the amazing popular black sesame soft serve as a late lunch treat and then took the long bus ride back to the centre of the city. 

That evening we wandered around temples closer to home - we stumbled upon evening prayers in one temple. 

We sat on tatami mats barefoot and listened, just listened,  surrounded by burning incense  An event that was truly mesmerising and one we were lucky to witness. 

We walked back through huge gates adorned with shimmering gold lanterns, hung against dark wood the lanterns looked luminisecent in the evening light. 

That night, on the recommendation of the extremely helpful and welcoming hostel hosts, we ventured out for Teppenaki...

We gorged on delicious okonomiyaki,  Japanese pancakes (a shredded cabbage stuffed pancake smothered in smoky bbq sauce and mayo, trust me, tastier than it sounds (and looks!) completely moreish. 

So much so that we had to hunt out restaurants that served the traditional dish twice more before we moved on to the  next leg of our journey. 

Next we ventured to the mountains and trekked along the cobbled paths, keeping an eye out for bears and spent an evening dining in traditional robes and sipping green tea - more soon! 

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