Yesterday in Kyoto I saw Kinkakuji Temple (400 Yen). This Golden Temple has three levels and each level has its own architectural style. The place is surrounded with a beautiful pond and this was perhaps the most beautiful place I visited in Kyoto so far!
Later that night I went to a maiko performance. A maiko is a geisha in training. They wear the same dress usually, but are younger. They wear very traditional Japanese dress (usually kimonos) with wooden clogs and thin socks. Their faces are a little child's worst nightmare, painted a GHOSTLY white, while the rest of their makeup is quite distinguishable from the rest of their face, like the red lipstick which catches your eye from quite far away. They "flirt" from what I understand, while having conversations with the customers to entertain them (although I don't understand much because it is in Japanese), along with performing a fascinating dance routine. There were two dancing together in the performance that I saw and there were fans involved, so cool wow!! You cannot generally be entertained by a geisha unless you already know her or you have a friend of hers or a current client introduce you. They are quite mysterious, and there are rumors that they can be prostitutes but I cannot attest to the validity of that, for I do not know. One thing I can say is that their company usually requires upwards of 15-20,000 Yen, which would be about a $200-300 USD night...Japan is not for the poor I state again and again.
Today I got up early and stopped at a temple and got some breakfast at the bus stop where I needed to transfer buses. Then, I headed to Kiyomizudera which is a temple up high which has a decent garden! I hung out in the preserved old Kiyomizu Area for a while after, and even caught a glimpse of a geisha and a maiko...OR SO I THOUGHT! Apparently the ones you see in the daytime are not REAL ones I am told. How should I know?? They looked real to me! How can one tell the difference between the real ones and the frauds?? Kiyomizudera was nice, but I liked Kinkakuji better! Then I took a bus to Tofukuji Temple and after that headed over to the Fushimi Inari Shrine! That place was really cool, offering hundreds of these red gates placed closely together, forming a walkway...and can continue walking for QUITE some time up the mountain. From there I headed to Ryoanji temple and explored the pond and forest there, LOVELY! I just did not pay for the overrated rock garden (as stated before). I then visited Ninnaji Temple before finally exploring a path by my friend's house and calling it a day. Wow, what a day!!
Tenryuji Temple is lovely, has a beautiful garden and pond and behind the exit is a MUST-SEE Bamboo Garden!!!
- The bus system in Kyoto is WAY more convenient for getting to almost all major sites than the metro so during your stay in Kyoto I recommend that you buy the One Day Bus Pass EVERYDAY you plan to tour. It is 500 yen and you can purchase it on the first bus you jump on in the city (does not matter which one). You can also buy it at Kyoto station (The main railway (JR) and bus station). Also, each ride costs 220 Yen whereas the all day pass is 500, so take a bus to one location and back and you are already only 60 yen short of getting the full card's value for the day!
- If you are on a budget, do your research first as to what places you want to visit and map out a subway or metro gameplan. Taxis are WAY too expensive here. Also, check entrance fees because those add up quickly and much of the money paid is not worth it!! Check the following out: http://www.templefees.com
- Bus drivers (especially in Kyoto) will bow and recite some sort of really polite oral discourse, something along the lines of "thank you so much for riding this bus". Though the "blah blah blah maaaaaaaaaassss" sounds a LOT like Darth Vader of Star Wars (especially reminds me of this with the dusk masks they wear), it is a super friendly experience! There are even notifications that the driver will change, and and an electronic screen tells you the next stop in Japanese AND English. When you wait at any major bus stop, there is a moving icon depicting how far away the next bus you are waiting for is, wow!!!
- Random, but Asians all put their blood type on facebook and Westerners do not. Please have a look if you do not believe me...also don't forget to check facebook anyway for all the awesome pictures that go along with these whacky tales!!!