September 18th, 2010

drinking bird

August in Japan

I returned a couple of weeks ago from Japan. I have been slow to write anything about it, but here goes:

First, let me say that I had assumed the weather would be a bit cooler at the end of August and the start of September. Not this year! Fans and umbrellas were a necessity, as well as hats. It stayed around 38C the whole time. At least we had sunshine, and rain only at night. Atsui desu ne!

This time I started my visit in Kyoto. I met my friend Aya, and she took me to visit Ginkaku-Ji [Temple of the Silver Pavilion]. It was originally meant to be covered in silver, but the shogun who commissioned it died before completion, so it never was. It is a lovely, serene place, with a moss garden to rival that of Koke-dera. It was also pleasantly cool under the trees.

View of Ginkaku-ji

Some of the mosses

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Another view

Then we went on to Hônen-in, a charming, secluded temple, little visited, with carefully raked gardens set back in the woods.

Mossy thatch covered portal

One of the sand structures

We had a lovely udon lunch at a fairly well known little restaurant nearby. Arrived just in time before the crowds! 

Later on, we went to Kitano-Tenman-gô. Here the interest is in the large market held once a month in the gardens. It was quite fun to browse there, and we ended up buying fans [my old one was tearing up anyway]. This temple is where students go to pray for a good result on exams.

We were rather tired afterwards, and in need of some rest. Aya treated me to a wonderful Tarte Tatin in a lovely pastry shop. It is a traditional French caramelized apple tart, served upside down, so the caramel is on top and the crisp crust underneath.

This photo doesn't really do justice to the tart. Anyway, it was delicious!

The next stop was Amanohashidate. This is one of the three scenic views of Japan. A thin strip of land connects the two opposite ends of Miyazu bay. It is covered with pines. There is a pleasant beach on the open sea side. There is a famous fresh water well on the peninsula. We went to the top of a hill to get a better view.

Amanohashidate, with unfortunately a heat haze over it.

I will continue this later.