Kyoto was hot and humid. But I was excited to explore traditional Japanese culture! I decided to start by visiting temples and shrines clustered at the southern end of the Higashiyama hills, which form the eastern border of Kyoto.
I started with the Kiyomizudera Temple. This is a large complex with huge numbers of visitors. I found it colorful and intellectually interesting, but did not feel emotionally drawn to it.
Next I headed north on two charming small streets that showed what Kyoto must have been like hundreds of years ago, Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka.
Then I stumbled upon Entokuin Temple – I looked through the entrance to the courtyard and saw an enticing garden beyond. Although I could not find it in my guidebook, I was intrigued and decided to explore. This temple had two gardens, and I LOVED both of them. I had such a powerful reaction – a deep feeling of peace and beauty. This made me realize that gardens were what I responded to, more so than temples and shrines.
Across from Entokuin was Kodaiji Temple, which also had a lovely garden.
After visiting all these sites, I was tired, and made my way back to the hotel.
Later in the day, I visited the Kyoto Handicraft Center. I enjoyed looking at many crafts, and found some presents for relatives. Also dropped by a used English-language bookstore, where I picked up a couple of Agatha Christie novels to keep me going.