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Kyoto - One Thousand Buddhas, Sake and Magical Cheese


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Having visited all the popular temples and shrines in Kyoto, I had but one last sightseeing spot to visit on my last day and this was the Sanjusangendo temple containing 1000 Buddha statues. It was only a 5 minute walk from the hostel so I waited until 2 pm to go hoping the crowds would have diminished from the early morning rush. Alas, it was still pretty crowded but I'm getting used to it now.

Sanjusangendo is a 12th century temple (partially rebuilt in the 13th century after a fire) and it contains 1000 identical life-sized buddha statues arranged in 10 rows by 100 columns. In front and around some of these columnns there are also 28 unique statues of guardian deities. Directly in the centre of these 1000 statues there sits an impressive giant buddha statue covered in gold.

The very long Sanjusangendo Temple in the middle of Kyoto

This was one of those places that when you first walk in, all you can think is "WOW", well it was for me anyway. Sometimes I'd stand and admire an interesting statue for a couple of minutes, reading the description and fully appreciating it, other times I'd stand and look at another statue for a couple of minutes just waiting until the loud western tourist would move along, you know the type, the one who pressumed everybody in a 100 meter radius wanted to hear their profound comments about the statues. I'm not naming nationalities but it was obvious to me where they were from.

I couldn't take photos in this place, even sneaky shots were out of the question, but to give you an idea here's a photo from wikipedia. It's an old photo and you can't see any of the guardian deity statues nor the giant buddha statue. That's probably a good thing because personally I've enjoyed more discovering the things that I haven't already seen a hundred times in books or on the web.

Sanjusangendo Temple (1000 Buddha Temple), Kyoto (borrowed from wikipedia, copyright expired, now in the public domain)

So anyway that was a nice way to finish off sightseeing in Kyoto.

Later that night, I caught up with Roddy who I had first met in Tokyo. After going in different directions after Tokyo we basically bumped into eachother again as he happened to be staying at the same hostel as me in Kyoto. We ended up at the bar beneath the hostel talking about our travels with a couple of Aussie girls that were there on holiday.

We all decided to try some sake (my first time) at a little "Beer and Sake" joint just around the corner. This was officially the smallest bar I had ever been to. About five stools in front of the bar about 1 meter away from the front (sliding) door.

Kirsty, Me, Cate and Roddy at Sake and Beer bar.

The woman behind the bar was very friendly and welcoming, obviously very used to the hoards of backpackers summoned in by the promise of "Beer and Sake". She was probably in her late 50's or early 60's and she didn't speak a word of English but she certainly knew what we were after. She provided us with sweets, a variety of pickled vegetables and glasses full to the brim with cold sake. To be frank I'm getting quite fond of pickled vegetables, they go really well with alcoholic drinks. The sake wasn't too bad considering it was 17% alcohol, having pickles and a cold beer to chase it down with definitely helped.

Sweets, Beer, Sake and Pickles

After we were asked to leave (closing time, not disorderly behaviour) we ventured another block away to check out another place called "Magical Cheese" - how could you not be curious with a name like that. It was actually a classy bar (leave your shoes at the entrance) that offers Fondue as its main attraction. At this place we decided do things properly so we ordered some warm sake this time.

Warm sake at Magical Cheese, it is quite a classy place actually

The bar tender was also friendly but didn't speak a word of English either (it's a recurring theme in Japan) so a woman sitting behind us volunteered to be our translator even though her English was also lacking.

Friendly Barman at Magical Cheese

Fondue Set and Various types of Sake, we had the sake with the white label.

Kirsty, Roddy, Me and Cate at Magical Cheese

What can I say about warm sake, basically it wasn't something I'll try again voluntarily. I didn't have too many problems finishing my glass but it took some guts and determination. The cold sake was much better, perhaps it was the type or quality of the warm sake that made it so bad.

Drinking warm sake - Roddy's face says it all

Of course we had to try the fondue - it was really good!

We left the place at around 3am, or it could have been 4, I forget. Had good times anyway. Luckily the walk back to the hostel was only about 2 minutes.

The next day I barely made it out of bed at 10 am with enough time enough to pack, have breakfast and check-out of the hostel. This hostel has been my favourite so far, "K's House Kyoto" has hit the nail on the head with what backpackers need and want, thumbs up to them.

So I waived goodbye to Kyoto and hopped on the next train to Osaka.

Kyoto Tower in front of train station - Goodbye Kyoto

Posted by joshuag 05:15 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking

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