Saturday, October 03, 2009
To the Temples...
Today I finally got to see something else besides the lab and my hotel room. The manager I've been working with took me on a half-day tour of some of Kyoto's famous sites. First, we took the subway to the train station, which also has a big shopping center. While we waited for the train, I found some model silver cars for Alex. (He's currently obsessed with silver cars; whenever I bring him to daycare or pick him up, we have to look at all the cars in the parking lot.) We rode one of the bullet trains that brought us to Kyoto in about 35 minutes. We ate lunch (fried rice and noodle soup), and I bought a lot of souvenirs. Then we went to a nearby hotel to join the guided tour.
Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan, and it still has many shrines and a shogun's castle. (It has so many historic sites the U.S. refrained from bombing the city during WWII.) We were only able to visit three shrines at a rushed pace. They were still pretty impressive, however.
The first shrine we visited was a Shinto shrine. The high point of this shrine was the garden, complete with several bridges. Next up was a 12th-century wooden shrine with over a thousand statues of Kannon. We weren't allowed to take photos, but the ambiance was quite impressive. It was like an army of gods. To visit the final temple, we first had to walk up a narrow street lined with shops. It was worth the climb, as the shrine had a great view of the mountains. The water at this temple is not only pure; it's supposed to grant health, wealth, or wisdom, depending on which stream you drink from. (Yes, I had some, but I'm not saying which stream it was.)
By the time we finished, we were pretty tired. We took the bullet train back to Nagoya, and another co-worker took us out for dinner at a Korean barbecue. Here, you were able to grill your food at the table. Some of it was a bit spicy for me, but it was still very good and very filling. No wonder I'm about to fall asleep!