After the emotional and physical journey of yesterday, we took the opportunity for a more relaxed pace. We all headed out late in the morning - The Navbour headed to Uji and we went to the northeast of the city to visit the garden of Murin-An.
Murin-an is a typical strolling garden of the Meiji period and was built by Yamagata Aritomo, a Prime Minister of Japan just before the turn of the century. The garden borrows the eastern hills of Kyoto for its viewpoint as an extension of the vista from the garden. It has a shallow stream and pond that is fed by the waters of nearby Lake Biwa, Japan's biggest lake. There are parts of the garden that have been influenced by English landscape design. There is also a very Western style villa on the grounds with dark rooms, painted walls and a panelled ceiling. Arimoto and some of his ministers met in this villa to plan the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.
We are only just a little bit into the hills of Kyoto but there is far more autumn colour.
On our return we stopped by Nishiki Market, a long arcade style mall which runs parallel to the main shopping street in Kyoto. The market sells everything from food to handicrafts and being a major tourist attraction the prices are reflective. In older times this was probably the main market for this part of the city, so the range of foodstuffs was spectacular as well as fascinating.
Back out on the main street we saw a very spoilt Cavalier which reminded us of our dog at home. We showed the owners a photo of our dog and there was much excitement.
In the evening we visited Kodai-ji temple built in 1606 and set in the hills to the east of the city, just a short bus ride away from our hotel. The temple has night illuminations for spring and autumn and there were some wonderful vistas from all parts of the temple and its surrounding gardens.
Around a pond the lights were arranged in a manner to reflect the trees in the water.
The outer buildings of the temple complex were roofed with thick thatch.
Further up the hill in the bamboo grove, individual clumps of bamboo were illuminated in sequence until the whole grove was bathed in light. Darkness showed the sparkling lights of Kyoto below us and then the sequence started again.
There were also some fantastic moving projections onto the buildings.
Afterwards we walked back to the hotel and stopped for dinner at a very aptly named restaurant - The Japanese Charcoal Chicken Restaurant. This was a typical (non vending machine) Japanese restaurant, with approximately 12 seats circling the chef and the food is prepared right in front of us. The food was mostly yakatori style (meat on a stick) using all parts of the chicken - heart, liver, tenders and neck as well as breast and thigh. The Navigatrix also ordered grilled green peppers, which looked like chillies but were sweet green baby capsicums.
One hears stories about how expensive Japan is but this has not been our experience. The three of us have been able to eat for about JPY3,000 in total per night - about AUD38 including beer. The buses in Kyoto are a flat price of 230 yen (less than AUD3.00) to get anywhere in the city. Not as great for a short hop but great value when travelling from one side of the city to the other. The small convenience stores like Family Mart and 7 Eleven serve sandwiches, sushi and yakatori which are less than 250 yen. Of course, the vending machine culture means drinks are available for as little as 100 yen. Entry to temples, museums and even major tourist sites like Kyoto Tower are priced at less than AUD10.00 and mostly far cheaper.
A wonderful dinner capped off another lovely day.