food travel

Kyoto with Gate 1: Day Two

We had the morning to ourselves in Kyoto, so I looked on the google maps and found us some options. Within walking distance: the Kyoto aquarium! And so off we went. On Health and Sports day? Which is a holiday. So all the locals were out and about too!

We started off with the Dolphin show, La La Fin Circus? Turns out, if you don’t understand the language, the dolphin show is less enjoyable. It was mostly just hoping it was finally time for something exciting to happen. There’s a lot of down time in dolphin shows, turns out. So: while I do love dolphin shows, I’d say you’d be ok to skip this one if you don’t understand Japanese.

The rest of the aquarium is pretty charming. I wouldn’t say this aquarium is a must-see, but if you’ve got a free morning and you’ve seen all the shrines and temples your brain can hold, it’s a nice change of pace.

Lunch back at the hotel, with sodas we’d picked up on our adventures. Japan is all about seasonal flavors: if you are there in the fall, pick up some White Peach Fanta and Apple Coke. The best sodas we tried on our trip.

The afternoon was a visit to … a temple! Bet you didn’t see that coming! But this one: this one was surrounded by deer! And also houses the largest bronze Buddha in the world.

Outside the temple is Nara park, home to, oh, about a gazillion deer. Who all love to eat crackers that you can buy. Oh, and they know when someone buys crackers, they will swarm until you’ve given up the goods.

This guy knew I didn’t have any crackers

Also, this picture just cracks me up: I’m pretty sure someone in the group was doing something stupid:

But then, we were inside with the giant Buddha! Daibutsu, in the Todai-ji temple. It is something to behold.

This is definitely worth a stop. I know I said we were all templed out, but this one is on whole different scale. There are little windows in the top of the building that they open … once a year? And the Buddha peeks through them.

The Buddha shutters: that is where his eyes are!

Next stop, some absolutely stunning Japanese gardens. Our tour was supposed to do something else, but it happened to be closed for renovations or something … and so we went to these gardens instead. I’m actually glad whatever it was got cancelled, these gardens were beautiful and peaceful.

We had a farewell dinner with our group that evening at the hotel, and thus ended part one of our trip.