Kyoto, April 24, 2019

An overcast morning, with threats of rain, greeted us upon our arrival in Kobe. We were meeting Ken, our personal guide, at the pier for a tour of Kyoto. We arranged this tour in the the fall of 2018 and two other couples were joining us. Kobe is a vey busy port in Japan, with ships at anchor waiting to dock and offload. Here is a shot as we were sailing in.

After about an hour long drive, we started our visit to Kyoto at the Nijo-jo Castle. It was completed in 1603 on orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu. His family stayed in control until 1867 when the then reigning shogun announced the end of his family’s rule and returned political control to the Emperor. Here is a photo of the Tonan Sumi-yagura (the Southeast Watchtower) which greeted us as we entered the castle area.

The castle is encompassed in a wall and we had to enter through the beautiful Kara-Man Gate.

Before we entered the Ninomaru-goten Palace, which consists of six connected buildings with 33 rooms, we had to remove and store our shoes. In anticipation of large crowds the palace had storage boxes for everyone. JoAnn and mine were going into the box immediately below #12.

Then it was into the palace where no photos were permitted; shame as the place was lovely and well worth the visit.

After a wonderful visit we were in the palace gardens. Enjoy a walk with us through the gardens with Ken and our troop.

We had a chance to stop and watch a gardener as we were walking through. The gardeners are all interesting to watch and they seem oblivious to the crowds of gawkers. Its people like these that make the gardens throughout Japan special.

Waterfalls are frequently incorporated into the design scheme.

And, before we knew it we were outside the castle walls . . .

. . . and heading to our next stop at the Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. I stopped on the way to take a photo or two of some cherry blossoms.

The Golden Pavilion, one of the most popular sites in Japan, was completely destroyed after an arson fire in 1950 and reconstructed in 1955. It is completely covered in gold leaf and topped by a bronze phoenix, a symbol of rising from the flames. What follows are photos of the area and pavilion as we approached and admired this beautiful building.

Here is a shot of some school girls, on a day trip, admiring photos of the interior of the pavilion and snapping some memories to take home with them.

One last photo of the pavilion from another perspective.

As we were leaving, I had a chance to take this picture of a pretty girl wearing a kimono with the pond in the background.

Lunch was then the order of the day. Here is a glimpse of the picture menu.

Ken chose well. JoAnn and I shared two entrees, a Wygu beef and a shrimp tempura. Both were excellent.

Ken decided on the Ryoanji Temple as our first stop after lunch. Founded in 1450 as a Zen training temple it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1499. It is famous for its rock garden and was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1994. Let’s begin as we ambled along toward the temple.

Photos inside the building were permitted. Let’s take a look.

And then there was the rock garden with its 15 rocks surrounded by white gravel, rippling out in perfect imitation of water spreading out as if a pebble was dropped in the pond. The garden served as a place for meditation for over 500 years.

As we were leaving, our attention was directed to these boards which were originally painted with calligraphy but now only bare the imprint of the symbols. A photo brought out what the naked eye had trouble seeing.

One more shot of cherry blossoms as we were leaving the Ryoanji Temple. I know, you’re saying, “what, another photo of cherry blossoms.” Yes, another photo; we came looking for them and we just couldn’t pass them up. Enjoy!

These stairs and those gorgeous doors on the way out beckoned to me . . .

. . . as did this boat and shed reflected in the water.

One more blossom caught my eye on the way out.

Next Ken took us to the Geisha area although no Geisha were around. The small street we were traversing was adjacent to a canal and everything was very photogenic.

Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine was our next and last stop in Kyoto. The shrine sits at the base of Inari Mountain and has a multitude of Torii gates that wind themselves up the mountain. It takes about two hours to make the walk to the top; something for which we neither had the time nor energy to do. Here are some shots at and about the shrine.

I enjoyed the enthusiasm exhibited by this group of school children whose teacher was taking their photo.

The artistic design on the entrance to the shrine is lovely.

Questions about the future? Stop by your local fortune teller for a visit on your way to the Torii gates which are donated by local businesses.

Foxes are regarded as messengers. This fox, holding a jewel in his mouth, sits at a main gate to the shrine.

Then, we were on our way back to the Quest; our visit to Kyoto with Ken at an end.

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