9/4/10 - First Temples and Gardens; Kyoto Handicrafts Center

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.