Rabbits, Blossoms and Lanterns

Once again back in the hotel, bathed and relaxing. Mia is reading an English Language Classic in reduced form for those learning the language – “Breakfast at Tiffanys”, I’m half-watching a baseball match between Korea and Japan on the telly – and back to catching you up on our travels…

The last part of our day in Kyoto began with a bus ride across to the area where the Higashiyama Hanatoro lantern festival was. Kiyomizu Temple was at the southernmost point of the lantern-lined streets, and we had been told it was a perfect place to watch the sunset from. Being after 5pm, however, our bus became part of the metallic ooze of ‘rush-hour’ traffic.

By the time we started walking up the long street which lead to the Temple, dusk had fallen and there was no need to rush. On each side was shop after shop taking advantage of the crowds – and oddly enough it seemed like every second one specialised in very stylish & high quality rabbit-themed goods.

The approach to the Temple entrance was immediately stunning, with the pagodas and trees lit up, and a spotlight shining up into the night sky behind them. We paid the admittance fee, and ascended the steps to the buildings.

The temple grounds spread across a hillside which overlooks Kyoto, and is covered in trees. Many were already in blossom, most notably the magnolias, as well as either peach or plum trees (we haven’t managed to tell them apart yet). Each time we thought the place couldn’t be more beautiful we were proved wrong. The combination of the temple surroundings and the elegant and understated way they were lit was breathtaking.

Just as we were tiring of walking and feeling a bit chilly, we came down the path to a restaurant with tables outside. It didn’t take long for us to be seated, serving ourselves tofu, sauce & spring onion from a small wooden tub, and drinking hot sake.

After the much-needed break, we walked back down the hill and caught the bus to our last stop for the night – the park near Gion which was also lit up for the festival. We were both a bit shattered, and it would’ve been nigh-on impossible for anything to compare with where we had just been – but the lantern-lit paths and illuminated blossoming plum tree were gorgeous all the same. The park itself was really neat, and we’re actually hoping to stop by there again tomorrow during our second trip to Kyoto – this time a little less ambitious in the early to late stakes. =)

Finally, we headed back to Osaka and our hotel – secure in the knowledge that we didn’t need to be anywhere until 12:25pm the next day, when we would be catching a train to Kobe to meet 12 other Couchsurfing.com members and tour some local Sake breweries…

Published in: on 25 March 2009 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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