Friday, April 10, 2009 ;
We were planning to view the cherry blossoms in their full glory on this day, but the weather forecast said it may rain (60% chance), whereas on Friday, it was (20% chance) so we decided to visit other attractions instead.
Breakfast was included (2 adults and 1 kid again). This meal made us feel very different from most hotel breakfast buffets. We were absolutely stuffed and very very full after we were done (and didn't finish everything either), yet, we felt as if we had eaten very nutritious and healthy things. You know the feeling? Like you feel very energetic and strong and fit?
Usually after normal hotel breakfasts, I feel fat and lethargic and guilty, cos I would usually have eaten char kway teow, pork buns, bacon, hot dog, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and lots of desserts...
Here, I had miso soup and so much tofu, an egg, a piece of ham, a spring roll with veggies inside, potato wedges (not deep fried) and some udon noodles. ds2, who had no breakfast, ate up all our bread rolls (with lots of butter), so he's the unhealthy one now... haha.
Passed by a fire truck and firemen getting ready to go out (and save people?)
We walked about 15min to the bus stop and took a bus to Kinkakuji. This is a very famous temple that was covered with gold leaves for the entire top 2 levels.
Kyoto has tons and tons of shrines and temples that are all full of history and culture, but we have to be realistic, cos of the kids... so we picked only a handful to visit, and we decided to do only 1 a day, so there would be a good mix of places to see per day and the kids' spirits will be kept high throughout.
We had to pay admission fees to enter, and thankfully they only charged kids after they start Grade 1 (seems to be the standard protocol for every attraction, bullet train, bus in Japan?), so we only paid for 2 adult tickets at every place.
Beautiful garden stroll before we saw the "Golden Temple". Correct me if I am wrong, my Bio uni mates (or students or anyone else for that matter haha), but I recall Dr Lum or Dr Tham saying before that lichen and moss are environment indicators. A place with a lot of moss and lichen means the air, water env quality is high enough for these species to survive.
Well this garden was certainly very mossy and licheny. ha! Lots of tree trunks and roots were covered. I quickly took deeper breaths, must have my fill of fresh air before I leave Japan. :-)
The place is sooo popular! We didn't realise it because we went by public transport and walked in ourselves, but once we got in, we saw so many groups of tourists, from everywhere around the world, because we heard French, Taiwanese, Cantonese, American, British accents here and there. This pic shows the 2 boys running to get ahead of the "man with the flag". They wanted to be the 1st in the long line, like they are the tour leaders instead.
The Kinkakuji in her golden glory. I heard in fall, it is extra beautiful cos the trees behind are in different hues. Winter will present a different kind of beauty too. That's the nice thing about changing seasons.
The kids wanted to enter and climb the temple. It wasn't allowed. ds1 asked why. I replied, isn't it obvious? So kids like you can't peel off the gold and steal it?
ds1 always laughs when I am serious and when I make a joke, he ponders it seriously. Am I a lousy joker or does the problem lie with my son?
Right on top of the roof, a golden phoenix struts, and reflects off all the sunlight, making it glitter and shine even more. Lovely.
Other structures within the grounds.
Quite a lot of wildlife there too. Saw many different species of birds, but I'm too poor in identification... sorry.. And fish in the pond...
Moss and fern covered hut.
Rickety wooden stairs.
A rock that looks like a carp. I appreciate knowing the traditional Chinese characters after my trip to Japan. (My mom brought me and sis to attend Chinese church services -for several years- when we were young and the hymn books and Bibles were all printed in Taiwan, hence I learnt to read traditional Chinese.) We could understand and guess a lot of words written in the kanji form. This sign says "Li Yu Shi" or carp rock?
In many restaurants, they don't speak English, or Mandarin of course, and the menu is all in Japanese, and there are no pictures! So we examine all the squiggly words and try to spot any kanji characters. I saw the word "ji" in traditional Chinese character, and said, ok, this must be chicken something, so let's order that, chicken cannot go wrong.... Everyone in our family likes chicken. So we had chicken ramen and chicken curry rice for that meal. haha.
All the coins thrown and wishes made, for good luck.
People queuing to strike the gong by pulling the ribbon. Looked like a maypole to me.
Stalls selling native foodstuff. We bought something to try cos they kept giving our sons free samples and we always feel bad if we don't buy.
If you receive a bad fortune forecast, you can tie the piece of paper (with the bad fortune saying on it) here, and it will ward off the bad luck (supposedly). ds1 is not doing that, he was just strumming the strings for fun. I quickly stopped him, in case he gave everyone bad luck cos of that. hee hee.
The kids cannot wait to tuck into the glutinous rice balls thingy, so we sat down and ate it all before moving on.
It's nice not to part of a tour group. We did not need to follow the crowd. Obvious from this pic below: far from the madding crowd. hee.
Then we skipped, hopped and jumped over the pebbles and rocks and ran to the bus stop. The buses in Japan are always punctual and don't you just love the bus stops? They are full of information and even indicate when the next bus is arriving and what number it will be. It is important knowledge even if we are already at the bus stop.
Why? Cos there are always another common Jap thing at bus stops: vending machines. It allows me to gauge whether I have time to buy a drink or ice cream and consume it before the bus arrives. haha. Of course I can bring the food up the bus if it does come, but I prefer not to, because the kids might make a mess and I rather they not mess up the nice clean buses.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow