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Day 5 – Kyoto | Ten Days in Japan

Ginkaku-ji Temple

Better known as the “Silver Pavilion”, Ginkaku-ji is a Zen temple along Kyoto’s eastern Higashiyama mountains. It consists of the Silver Pavilion, half a dozen other temple buildings, a beautiful moss garden and a unique dry sand garden.

A first sight of the Silver Pavilion can be enjoyed shorty after entering the grounds. Formally named Kannonden (Kannon Hall), the pavilion’s two stories are constructed in two different architecture styles and contain a statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The interior of the building is not open to the public.

Despite its name, the Silver Pavilion was never covered in silver. Instead, it is believed that the name arose as a nickname more than a century after the building’s construction to contrast it with the Golden Pavilion. Alternatively, it is explained that moon light reflecting on the building’s dark exterior (which used to be covered in black lacquer in the past) gave it a silvery appearance.

Cost: ¥500 for entry









Kōdai-ji Temple

This is an outstanding temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama District and belongs to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Its main buildings were constructed in the lavish style of the era of Japan’s unification with the financial support of Hideyoshi’s successor Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Cost: ¥600 combo ticket

[Men pushing carts, which is common in Kyoto]




Kodai-ji’s rock garden
Visitors can enter Kodai-ji’s main hall (Hojo), to reach the rock garden consisting of a large field of raked gravel meant to represent the vast ocean. The other garden is an impressive tsukiyama style garden featuring a pond, man made hills, decorative rocks and beautiful pine and maple trees, the latter of which turn brilliant shades of red and orange during the autumn color season.

[Rock garden]

[Tsukiyama style garden]

[Staircase leading to the garden]


Within this garden stands the Kaizando (memorial hall) where Nene would pray for Hideyoshi and which now enshrines stone images of both of them. It is said that if you touch the feet of both of them with your right hand, you will earn luck.

[Statues of Hideyoshi and Nene]

After one exits the temple, a series of steps, named Nene’s Path, will lead back down to the streets of the Higashiyama District. Across the street from Nene’s Path is a recently redeveloped area with some shops and cafes. This area is also home to the small Kodaiji Sho Museum, which exhibits treasures of Kodaiji, Nene and several pieces of lacquer artwork. The complex is surrounded by the buildings of Entokuin Temple, a small subtemple of Kodaiji that features two more Zen gardens.


[You can pay ¥3,000 and get a personalized tea-drinking ceremony]


Kodaiji is located in the Higashiyama District between Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizudera. It is a 5-10 minute walk from Higashiyama Yasui bus stop (15 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206).

To the southeast corner of the temple precincts, we saw a huge statue of Buddha named Ryozen Kannon. It is a concrete and steel statue of white robed Kannon which is 24 meters high. It is a war memorial to commemorate the Japanese who died during World War II.






Yasaka Pagoda

Right next to Kodai-ji Temple is Yasaka Pagoda, the last remnant of Hokanji Temple, and one of the most visible and recognizable landmarks in the Higashiyama District. Visitors may climb up the inside of the five story pagoda, which is a rare opportunity as most pagoda can only be viewed from the outside.

Cost: ¥400



[Met some Geisha’s on the way]


We walked across the streets of Higashiyama district lined up with souvenir shops, restaurants and lots of people walking around

[Streets of Higashiyama district]

[Streets of Higashiyama district]

[Streets of Higashiyama district]

[Streets of Higashiyama district]

[Streets of Higashiyama district]


Literally “Pure Water Temple”, is one of the most celebrated temples of Japan. Founded in 780 on the site of the Otowa Waterfall in the wooded hills east of Kyoto, it derives its name from the fall’s pure waters. In 1994, the temple was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

Kiyomizu-dera is best known for its wooden stage that juts out from its main hall, 13 meters above the hillside below. The main hall, which together with the stage was built without the use of nails, houses the temple’s primary object of worship, a small statue of the eleven faced, thousand armed Kannon.

Behind Kiyomizudera’s main hall stands Jishu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. In front of the shrine are two stones, placed 18 meters apart. Successfully finding your way from one to the other with your eyes closed is said to bring luck in finding love. You can also have someone guide you from one stone to the other, but that is interpreted to mean that an intermediary will be needed in your love life as well.

The Otowa Waterfall is located at the base of Kiyomizudera’s main hall. Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream’s water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.











Kiyomizudera can be reached from Kyoto Station by bus number 100 or 206 (15 minutes, 230 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively, Kiyomizudera is about a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station along the Keihan Railway Line.


Sanjūsangen-dō Temple

A walk of about 20 minutes brought us to the one of the most magnificent temples of Japan – Sanjūsangen-dō Temple.

This is the popular name for Rengeo-in, a temple in eastern Kyoto which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. The temple hall is with 120 meters Japan’s longest wooden structure. The name Sanjūsangen-dō (literally “33 intervals”) derives from the number of intervals between the building’s support columns, a traditional method of measuring the size of a building. In the center of the main hall sits a large, wooden statue of a 1000-armed Kannon (Senju Kannon) that is flanked on each side by 500 statues of human sized 1000-armed Kannon standing in ten rows. Together they make for an awesome sight.

1000-armed Kannon are equipped with 11 heads to better witness the suffering of humans and with 1000 arms to better help them fight the suffering. Note that the actual statues have only 42 arms each. Subtract the two regular arms and multiply by the 25 planes of existence to get the full thousand.






Gion Center

We took the bus no. 100 back to Kyoto Station and got some rest at the hotel. After sundown, we took the bus again to the Gion District which is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district, located around Shijo Avenue between Yasaka Shrine in the east and the Kamo River in the west.

We wanted to see a Geisha show and traditional tea ceremony at the Yasaka Hall Gion Corner. The one hour show costs ¥2,500 per person sells tickets 15 minutes before the show and they usually get sold out. Available for tourists only, make sure to arrive at the hall at least one hour before the show to make sure you get the tickets.

Just before the show starts, the MC will randomly select two guests from the audience for an exclusive tea ceremony and I was lucky to be picked along with a woman from Argentina.

The ceremony starts with the two of us seated on a table in the corner and given handwritten instructions to follow on how to drink the traditional tea. Then an “assistant” comes and prepares the platform for the main person to step up and prepare the tea. Then the assistant serves the tea to us one at a time.

After the tea ceremony, there are performances ending with a Geisha performance.


















All in all it was a great, productive day visiting the main sights of Kyoto and ending with a fantastic experience at the Gion Center.


Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = JPY 100. Each cost is for one adult.

What Cost Notes
Hokke Club Hotel $84.20 $84.20 per person, per night
Kyoto day-pass $10.00 ¥1,000 for one-day bus pass. Per person.
Ginkaku-ji Temple $5.00 ¥500 for one person
Kodai-ji Temple $6.00 ¥600 for one person
Yasaka Pagoda $4.00 ¥400 for one person
Kiyomizu-dera Temple $4.00 ¥400 for one person
Sanjusangen-do Temple $10.00 ¥1,000 for one person
Lunch at Oblio $5.25 ¥525. One person
Gion Center $25.00 ¥2,500 per person
Water & snacks $10.00 ¥1,000. Coffee, biscuits, water
Indian dinner $10.00 ¥1,000 per person at Maharaja restaurant
Total Costs $173.45 Per person
Overall Costs $949.60 Per person


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Fushimi Inari shrine, Kinkaku-ji Temple, Nishiki Food market.

Day 5


Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kodai-Ji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Sanjusangen-do temple, Yasaka Hall Gion Corner.

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Hiroshima & Itsukushima Island

Atomic Bomb Memorial, Peace Museum, Itsukushima Island.


Travel On The Dollar