Spring has sprung though the disparity of bloom times is evident. Some trees are regaled in flowers or a bit past while others have the merest of buds. The mornings are chilly while afternoons are getting quite warm. Travel by train and bus works pretty well except for the availability of priority seats. Young people tend to take them without regard for those who are eligible. I hesitate to ask in sign language as perhaps they, too, have a disability which isn’t visible, though I tend to doubt it. Standing on already weary legs and maintaining a vertical position can be a bit taxing on my body healing from recent major surgery.
The bamboo forest of Arashiyama is popular for tourists as well as brides. Without looking upward it is impossible to photograph sans people. It wasn’t as long as I imagined it but still fun. Some visitors arrived by rickshaw and even a taxi or two crept along. Boats rides are available along the neighboring river which has the monkey reserve on the other side. Since the ascent to view them is steep we decided not to attempt it given my condition.
Nijo Castle required us to take off our shoes before walking around the single story building. The empty rooms were vast and most had murals, copies of the originals as those were in an exhibition which has since closed. The gardens were lacking imagination though the few blooming cherry trees were of interest.
The Higashiyama district is a preserved area of the city and packed with a ton of tourists. Many kimono clad women wander about, some with men in their traditional dress. Pricey shop after shop line the streets with few opportunities to sit and rest. I realized some of the women wearing kimonos are actually tourists who have rented the outfit for the day. For the young I am sure it was fun, though walking in the those sandals and narrow outfit seemed stifling and a bit challenging.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped by a pharmacy to purchase nose drops for Bill which would gain us coins for bus fare. The friendly older woman spoke a bit of English telling us of her sister who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. She said it’s pretty there with the nature and river.
Fushimi Imari Shrine, which honors the god of rice, is an interesting display of supposedly 32,000 shrines where people can offer change, say a prayer, clap, and ring a bell. No photos are allowed of any ceremonies. The walk through the thousands of vermillion toris is cool with chances to veer off to more shrines along the way. We didn’t even go quite halfway before turning around, and at that we walked about an hour.
Sanjusangen-do Temple threatens one’s life on signage about taking pictures yet no one was at the end, as claimed, to check cameras! Inside, where one cannot wear shoes, are a thousand golden statues of Buddhist deity were made of cypress in the 12th and 13th centuries and one large seated statue placed in the center of the rows. Kannon, the god of mercy, is the focus of this religious site. In front of the golden statues are twenty-eight others which are guardian deities with vivid facial expressions to protect Kannon as well as pious Bhuddists who believed in him. Outside there were numerous flowering trees adding color to an otherwise drab building and uninspired gardens.
We had breakfast at the hotel about twenty minutes outside of the city and dined either there or in Kyoto. Other than salads it seems vegetables are quite rare. There is plenty of tender meat, pot stickers, soup, etc.
Shambasi Street turned out to be the place to go to see quaint old buildings, cherry blossoms, and couples in kimonos being professionally photographed. Some are honeymooners. The beautiful warm morning and the photos ops made this excursion worthwhile before heading to another city.
Nishiki Market turned out to be vast, a very long narrow covered area for vendors of fresh seafood, cooked samples, and various shops. We did snack on small skewers of duck sausage and duck bits with small bites of vegetables in between them. Pretty yummy!