For the final leg of this trip across Asia, it was another relatively short train journey. It was just 45 minutes on the local train from Kyoto to Nara.
The weather in Kyoto began gloomy and only got worse. After dropping our bags off we decided to avoid the horrendous rain by checking out a local cinema in the city centre. Spider-Man far from home was our choice, great film even for those who aren’t up to speed with the marvel universe. The cinema experience was new and interesting, particularly the plastic tray with holders for drinks and popcorn which you can take into the screening. It made things a lot easier.
The early evening hadn’t seen the weather change and so walking through the indoor shopping area seemed a better option than dodging the rain. The packed shopping district filtered out as the night wore on, with an early morning planned we figured it was time to head back on the train towards our hotel.
The following day the weather was just as bad. With umbrella in hand and raincoat zipped up, we headed to Higash Honganji temple. Located very centrally, just metres away from the main station and Kyoto tower, the temple covers a good amount of the city. It was established in 1602 by shogun Tokugawa Leyasu to separate the Shin sect and reduce the power it held. For hundreds of years it remained relevant, even after Kyoto lost its title as Japan’s capital in the mid 19th century.
It now stands as a symbol of the impact Buddhism had on the area and the people of Kyoto as they aimed to live life as pure as possible.
The buildings are the classic wooden design which almost all of these temples pride themselves on. One of the buildings, the founders hall, is said to be the biggest remaining wooden structure in the world. When you see it in person it’s hard to imagine this statement being wrong.
The polished wood and incense which seem like permanent scents within the halls of the temple make you feel like you’re in a truly special place. It was a peaceful moment to gather ones thoughts and just relax. After over 5 weeks of being on the go almost none stop, it was a precious 5–10 minutes of calm.
Leaving the temple the rain had eased slightly, making our walk to the subway a little less unpleasant. Three stops and we were back around the shopping area of the previous day. Having a walk around was far easier than the night before, if anything it was due to it being that bit cooler.
We stopped for a milkshake in a pretty cool looking diner style cafe and planned what to do with our evening. The answer – Kyoto tower.
After a brief period back in our room to refresh or, in my case, have a lie down (I could barely keep my eyes open for some reason) we walked over to the bus illuminated tower. Built next to the main station, it was completed in 1964 and at 131 metres it is the tallest structure in Kyoto.
Entrance to the 100m viewing platform is 770 yen and provides a 360 degree view of the city. It was 8:30 when we ascended and the city below was lit up as far as the eye could see. You could see the rain still coming down heavy on the glass of the tower, but that didn’t matter. The view is what we came for. Even better was that through the binoculars provided we were able to locate our hotel, which was a fun find.
Back down the tower and a meal of udon noodles with tofu before heading back to the hotel for some sleep. A good first day in Kyoto all round