Today we started off early to do a walking tour of East Kyoto. Our aim was to find the Philosopher's Path and then head north to Ginkaku-Ji or the Silver Pavilion.
We caught the tube to Keage and then made our way on foot north, popping into any temples and shrines which took our fancy along the way. All of them had been decorated ready for the New Year. Onward now to the Philosopher's Path - well, with a quick excursion walking up and round a wood but at least it got us to where we needed to be. The walk along the canalside of the Philosopher's Path is a lovely way to walk towards Ginkaku-ji. It is about 2km long and refers to a respected philosopher Nishida Kitaro who took his daily consitutional along this route. Ever so often there are little bridges which span the canal, allowing you to cross from one side to the other if you want to have a peek into one of the many giftshops or tea houses. It is a very pleasant walk, especially on a day like we had and it must be delightful in the summer when the trees are in bloom.
On our walk we came across 2 Geisha girls splendidly attired in the most colourful costumes you could imagine. Even the Japanese stopped and stared at them and asked them for photos. They must be quite an unusual sight. Mind you, I didn't know how they walked in their sandals, it must take an awful lot of practice.
The Silver Pavillion, Ginkaku-ji, is a much simpler version of Kinkaku, the Golden Pavilion, which we were to visit the next day, with its garden being the main attraction. And it was wonderful. First of all you come across the dry garden with its 'sea of silver sand' which is designed 'to reflect the moonlight' and a large 'moon facing' cone of sand. With the dark backdrop of a 2-storeyed building and the winter browns and greens of the garden it still looked magnificent. It is well worth a visit. Be warned though, even in winter there were crowds of people visiting it, so if you want to avoid the rush I would get there early so you can enjoy the peace and tranquility that the gardens will provide.
We then headed south again back towards central Kyoto, dropping into the Chion-in temple and Higashi Hongon-ji on the way. The latter reputedly has the largest wooden building in the world, dating from 1864.
A good place to stop if you feel that you have had enough of the 'old'stuff' is Kyoto station. Very modern and very large. If you have time, take the escalators up to the roof for a brilliant view over Kyoto. After walking for about 8 hours it was back to the hotel for a well deserved soak in the bath.