I really wished to visit the old Imperial capital,Kyoto,during autumn.Kyoto is definitely a wonderful city,with 17 UNESCO monuments and it deserves to be visited in every season,but during autumn and spring,it gets even more beautiful.Admiring the autumn leaves 紅葉狩り(momijigari) is a popular activity for Japanese people,along with admiring cherry blossoms during spring 花見(hanami).That is why those two periods are extremely busy,the city being visited by Japanese tourists as well as foreign tourists.So in order to make sure I get to see the beautiful autumn leaves in Kyoto,I made a reservation for lodging and bus ticket from Tokyo,3 months before,while I was still in Romania.But it was totally worth it as I’ve spent 3 amazing days in Kyoto,looking for autumn.My travel plan included places famous for their beautiful autumn leaves as well as must see spots such as Fushimi Inari,Kinkakuji,Ginkakuji,in hope that I will come again during spring holiday to see what I won’t cover this time.I will shortly write about my travel plan,focusing on places that impressed me most.
Day 1-Kyoto Station-Higashi honganji-Arashiyama(Tenryuji,Bamboo Forest,Jojakkoji,Nonomiya Shrine,Togetsukyo Bridge)-Kinkakuji
I arrived really early in Kyoto,after a long trip with the night bus(8 hours),but really excited to go around and see everything that was on my list.First stop was Kyoto Station, commemorating Kyoto’s 1,200th anniversary.The station is quite modern-looking,in contrast to the rest of the city which maintains an old atmosphere.Close to the station proudly stands Kyoto Tower,tallest building in Kyoto(131m)but not taller than his brother in Tokyo,Tokyo Tower(333m).
Near Kyoto Tower I found by chance the first temple from a long list that followed throughout my trip,Higashi Honganji.Honganji could be translated as Temple of the Primal Vow made by Amida Buddha.Higashi Honganji(East Honganji) along with Nishi Honganji(West Honganji) represent central locations for the Jodo Shinshu Buddhism(1224).
We went around Kyoto mostly walking and by bus,but we also took the subway a few times.From Kyoto Station we took the bus to Arashiyama(Storm Mountain) where we planned to spend half of the day,and then go to Kinkakuji(The Golden Pavilion).But there were so many things to see in Arashiyama that we hardly got to see Kinkakuji,one hour before closing time.
In Arashiyama we started with Tenryuji 天龍寺,Zen buddhist temple and UNESCO site built in 1339 by the shogun Ashikaga Takauji.Although the temple’s buildings have been destroyed by several fires,the gorgeous garden remained untouched.We visited the beautifully colored in autumn colors garden and then headed to the famous Bamboo grove in Arashiyama.I regretted a bit not having seen the interior of Tenryuji because as we headed towards the bamboo grove we couldn’t return to the temple.After the Bamboo grove,next spot was Jojakkoji temple.The temple,built in 1596,offers a great view over Kyoto.On the way back we also stopped at Nonomiya shinto shrine,famous for love and marriage.And our trip in Arashiyama ended with Togetsukyo bridge,located over Oi river and offering a gorgeous view of the Arashi mountain,that we enjoyed while eating a traditional green tea ice cream.
After Arashiyama we rushed to catch the bus for the famous Kinkakuji,The Golden Pavilion.The beautiful sunset light that covered the temple blessed us with an unforgettable image,that moved me to the tears.The image reminded me of that described by Yukio Mishima in “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion” with Kinkakuji being under fire.We didn’t have much time to admire the temple before closing time,but I will never forget that sense of accomplishment when I reached one of the places I wanted to see most for so long.
First day in Kyoto was a whole marathon,trying to see everything that was on my list.We didn’t even have time for lunch,but the day ended with a wonderful traditional dinner in Gion,geisha district.More about day 2,3 next time!