Leaving Osaka/First Day in Kyoto
01/18/2007 9 °C
YUMMM. THE BEST BREAKFAST IN JAPAN
(Todd) In the morning, before we left Osaka for Kyoto, we were looking for a place to eat, and luckily found the Swissotel. It had an amazing buffet. There were foods of all sorts, American, Japanese, large fruit bar and freshly squeezed orange juice.
All of it was served on fine china, but it didn’t feel too formal. It was a little pricey, 3003 Yen (about $25) but totally worth it. It was our best meal yet.
OUR FIRST RYOKAN
In our initial planning, Kyoto was going to be a day trip from Osaka. Instead we decided to spend the night. So we packed our bags and headed for Kyoto from our favorite station, Namba… Namba.
When we arrived, we dropped our bags off at the ryokan and headed for the temples. Kyoto, by far, has the most temples and shrines of any city. It used to be the capital of Japan before moving to Tokyo, so there is a ton of history in Kyoto.
We stayed at a wonderful ryokan, Heianbo. We liked it because it was smaller and very traditional. Our room was also traditional, with tatami mats and futon mattresses on the floor. We weren’t quite sure how to unfold the futon, since there were two mats, a blanket and this fluffy thing we guessed was a comforter. Luckily we guessed right. This sleeping arrangement is great if you like a very firm mattress, but Sara and I both have pillow-top mattresses at home. Even at the ritzy Ana and Hilton hotels, the mattresses are very firm. I guess that’s what they are used to.
The first temple, Chion-in, had several buildings. One was a shrine that had a 12-foot tall golden statue and ornaments surrounding it. There was just one other person there, and he was either talking to himself or praying. It was hard to tell since he was walking around in circles.
The next building was bigger and had several monks chanting and praying. We sat in for a few minutes and watched the ceremony. There was a very monotone, rhythmic chanting at banging a prayer bowl. Outside of the building, there was incense burning, people washing there hands with water from a fountain and a few other tourists.
FLORIDA GATOR TEMPLE
(Sara) The 2nd temple was very different than the first one. I particularly liked it because it was Gator orange! I asked them if they painted it that color in honor of our football National Championship, but they didn't understand my English. I suppose from the pictures that it has been orange for quite some time... maybe since our 1996 championship?
We walked through the Gator temple and enjoyed seeing all of the statues and Buddhas. At the end, there was a little Japanese cafe where we wanted to sit because it was so Japanese looking. We ordered a bowl of soup and ramen to share, even though we weren't very hungry! It was a fun time.
After the 2nd temple, we went back to the Ryokan and then to a small little restaurant around the corner where you cook your food on a rock at your table. Todd of course had fishies, and I had chicken. The ever-present standby of rice, miso soup, and tea was once again at our table.
A long day behind us, we turned in at the Ryokan, climbed into our futon mattresses and went to sleep.