Saturday, April 7, 2018

Friday, April 6th, Kyoto, Japan


Before leaving Takayama, we packed an overnight bag for the trip to Kyoto.  You've all seen plenty of photos of our travel in a train or bus, so I'm going to assume you don't want to see lots more of them.  But we did spend much of today traveling.  The scenes out the windows were great, and especially the ride by bullet train (Shinkansen).  I am going to help you experience the last bus ride, however.  It was, as one of our co-travelers said, "an immersion".

Kyoto was the home of Japan's leadership for over eleven hundred years.  In 794, Emperor Kanmu moved the country's capital to here (Heian-kyo).  Previously, there had been 49  emperors, dating back to 660 BC, but this new period is often referred to as the "thousand year capital", because of its permanence in Kyoto.

The period (Edo) of the Tokugawa Shogunate dominance of Japan lasted from 1603 to 1868, when Japanese society was under its family rule, and the country's 300 regional Daimyo.  Of course, it was the Samurai military leadership (hired by the daimyos to protect them, who ran things.

Nijo-jo Castle was the place where the first Shogun (Tokugawa Ieyasu) gathered his daimyos (friend and foe) together, and the hawk was displayed on the meeting room walls as his symbol of power.  The floors were held together with an intricately-designed nailing system which chirped "like nightingales" when walked on to warn the occupants of attacks during the night.

Next, we traveled to Kinkaku-Ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, also known as the Golden Pavillion. Built as a Shogun family villa in 1397, it was destroyed 75 years later.  Re-built in early 1500, it was again destroyed by a novice monk in 1950. Finally, re-built in 1955, its three-story, gold leaf design, and extensive gardens, place it among the 17 World Heritage Sites in Kyoto.

In the early evening, we returned to Kyoto to find our hotel dinner accommodations in some ruin.  In pouring rain, our group scattered to the restaurants nearby.  Pat and I found a very memorable seven-seater downstairs just off the main street, and had the chef all to ourselves.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Friday, Apr 6th, Kyoto, Japan.

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