The experience of ‘old Japan’ in Kyoto: a lot of people want to experience it, so Kyoto’s major attractions and parks can get very crowded. That means getting up early if you want to see the most beautiful places in peace and quiet.
It was a sunny day and our first stop was the beautiful Tenryu-ji gardens. The perfection of these Japanese gardens is unreal. It all looks so pretty and the autumn colours of the trees are intense. If there is a paradise on earth, it looks something like this. You have to pay an entrance fee (which I usually want to avoid) but it’s worth it!
Next to the Tenryu-ji gardens, there is a small bamboo forest, which gives another surreal experience. It’s a real touristic hotspot, so be early if you want to check it out. The vertical lines of the bamboo look fantastic. It is, however, a pity that some idiots have written something on the bamboo trunks!
Garden of Okochi Denjiro
A little further, up on a hill, there is another lovely Japanese garden, a masterpiece and a 30-year old project of the famous samurai actor Okochi Denjiro. In the middle of the garden, there is the former house of the actor, who lived from 1898-1962. We were very impressed!
This is the castle of Kyoto, Nijo castle. Although the walls around the castle are thick, the castle interior has a fragile look, with a lot of wood. The wall paintings are nice, but the rooms are all empty (which is seen more often in traditional Japanese houses). I can’t really imagine how people used to live here. The castle owner, the shogun, apparently was so paranoid about potential assassins, that he made sure that all wooden floors squeek and crack with every step you take. He also made secret rooms in his castle for his bodyguards.
The famous ‘philosopher’s trail’ a 40-minute stroll next to a idyllic stream. It is a beautiful, romantic walk in a (mostly) peaceful environment. The many small bridges make it very attractive to make pictures (although I forgot to make one with my camera!).
The last highlight of the day was the visit to Fushimi Inari (red gates). Literally thousands of red gates are standing in neat rows. The path goes to a temple on top of a hill. It’s a very impressive image. It’s also very touristic (mostly at the beginning of the route). However, I succeeded in making some pictures without people on it.
Coffee bar: Vermillion
While we walked back to Fushimi Inari station, we bumped into a coffee place called: Vermillion. It’s a small, relaxing coffee bar with good coffee. They have wifi and speak English. Here we hung out until closing time. Vermilion has been open for only six months (since November 2014). We had a good time and we rate Vermilion with an 8 out of 10.