Another Travel Day. But there was still some things to see in Kyoto before we wrapped up. The Kyoto Imperial Palace, or Gosho, was the former residence of the Emperor of Japan. But the Imperial family hasn’t resided here since 1869, when the seat transferred to Tokyo. Access is limited by formal request, except for two times a year where the gates are opened to the public. And we happened to be there for one of those times.
But, first, breakfast. This is 551 Horai, a Chinese bao and shumai place, famous in Kansai. This chain is all over Kansai, but the one in Kyoto Station has a constant line. So, following the rule for food in Japan, we went and stood in it.
Char siu bao, shumai and melon pan. Not bad, but not up to standards. The only time standing in a food line let us down in Japan.
The grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace are situated in the Kyoto Imperial Park and are immense. It’s about a mile, north to south, and a half mile, east to west. This was the long walk to the security checkpoint.
Rooms open for view, replete with painted sliding doors and wall work.
A view into a very sacred area. Two emperors were sanctified here.
When we got inside, they had swept and gathered all the stones so we wouldn’t be walking directly on the sacred pathways. Still, we managed to trod on quite a few sacred stones.
A distant view of the building that houses the thrones of the Emperor and Empress. On the left is a shelter they build every winter to protect a delicate tree in the Palace courtyard.
And on to the Imperial Garden.
And, finally, a shot of cherry blossoms. And all its admirers.
Now on to Ginkakuji. The ingenuity of the Japanese, yet again: automated bus stops that tell you what bus is approaching and in how many minutes.
And a happy T on the Philosopher’s Path leading to Ginkakuji – an entire lane filled with blooming cherry blossoms!
Baby cherry tree, ready in 25-50 years, but still seemed to have buds.
Snacks along the waterway: kinako arare, sugared baked soy beans, and beef and pork jerky. S’okay.
Compared to the ‘gold pavilion,’ Ginkakuji is very understated.
But the surrounding buildings and gardens are impeccable.
Pro-tip: always check out Japan Department Store basements for their selection of foods. Blows away anything Shirokiya and Marukai has ever offered. Also, a possible place to search for Japanese whisky, sake and beer. This is Isetan adjoining Kyoto Station.
And here’s the Shinkansen to Hakone.
Department Store bentos for the trip: sushi steak, chicken wings, and more tonkatsu.
And lookie here: transfer at Odawara to the Romance Car.
Not so much romance. But it was probably empty enough for some.
Not a bad train side view. On our way down at the end of this trip, we saw white cranes in the river and flying downstream.
Straight off of hanafuda cards: inoshishi (Japanese wild boar) roam here.
Our stop in the mountains.
City of Miyanoshita.
And after a 2 minute walk, we reached our ‘traditional’ ryokan, Hakone Ginyu.
The first thing they do is sit you down on these chairs so you can take in the peace and serenity and all that inner calm. We asked for a photo opportunity instead.
This particular ryokan has an Indonesian influence.
Lots of wood and mood lighting.
And, as previously suggested, this place has its location down.
Then they lead you to the next room to enjoy a hot beverage and to contemplate a fish tank.
The beverage in question: soy milk, pineapple, and ginger. It was pretty good.
On to the next seating arrangement! This one in our room.
Checking out the outside private onsen.
And the inside one.
The Powder Room.
The sleeping area in the background, eating area in the fore.
And Ryan has already slipped into something more comfortable for our first meal here at Hakone Ginyu.
Starting with a refreshing orange wine.
Tonight’s dinner menu.
The soup. Notice the tableware. Changed at every setting, every meal.
The seafood dish. The brown chunk of what appears to be a stone is, in fact, rock salt. You could either choose to dip your fish in shoyu or place it on the rock for 15 seconds before eating. Now that’s a nice touch for your Friday evening pupus.
The rice dish. Otherwise known as the ‘we’re getting very Japanese-y now’ dish.
Dessert: cake, custard and fruits.
Satisfied patrons after their first meal. Good night.
- Japan 2012 – Introduction, Day 1
- Japan 2012 – Day 2, Part 1 – Tsukiji and 3 Breakfasts
- Japan 2012 – Day 2, Part 2 – Asakusa, Kappabashi
- Japan 2012 – Day 3 – Tokyo Disney Sea and a Journey to Nostalgia
- Japan 2012 – Day 4 – Odaiba and Hometown Tonkatsu
- Japan 2012 – Day 5 – Ueno, Meiji Jingu, Yoyogi, Omotesando, Shibuya
- Japan 2012 – Day 6 – Travel Day by Shinkansen, Kyoto
- Japan 2012 – Day 7 – Kyoto and Nara Day Tour
- Japan 2012 – Day 8 – Bicycling through Kyoto, Turtle Dinner
- Japan 2012 – Day 10 – Hakone Circuit and Onsen-ing
- Japan 2012 – Day 11 – Travel Day Return to Tokyo and Sushi at Kyubey
- Japan 2012 – Days 12-13 – Akihabara Craft Beer Festival and Our Goodbyes to Japan