Trip Report: Japan 2012 – Day 9 – Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ginkakuji, Travel Day to Hakone

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.

Open House, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

551 Horai, Kyoto Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Char Siu Bao and Shumai and Melon Pan, 551 Horai. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Walk to the Entrance, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Image Credit: Ryan.
An Imperial Gate. Image Credit: Ryan.

Rooms open for view, replete with painted sliding doors and wall work.

Imperial Room Open for View. Image Credit: Ryan.

A view into a very sacred area. Two emperors were sanctified here.

Sacred Area, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Sacred Stones, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Image Credit: Ryan.
Royal Flower Arrangements 1. Image Credit: Ryan.
Royal Flower Arrangements 2. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Throne Room, Kyoto Imperial Palace. Image Credit: Ryan.

And on to the Imperial Garden.

Imperial Garden Shot 1. Image Credit: Ryan.
Imperial Garden Shot 2. Image Credit: Ryan.
Imperial Garden Shot 3. Image Credit: Ryan.
Imperial Garden Shot 4. Image Credit: Ryan.

And, finally, a shot of cherry blossoms. And all its admirers.

Cherry Blossoms and Onlookers. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Bus to Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.

And a happy T on the Philosopher’s Path leading to Ginkakuji – an entire lane filled with blooming cherry blossoms!

The Philosopher’s Path. Image Credit: Ryan.

Baby cherry tree, ready in 25-50 years, but still seemed to have buds.

Baby Cherry Tree. Image Credit: Ryan.

Snacks along the waterway: kinako arare, sugared baked soy beans, and beef and pork jerky. S’okay.

Snacks along the Philosopher’s Path. Image Credit: Ryan.

Compared to the ‘gold pavilion,’ Ginkakuji is very understated.

Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.

But the surrounding buildings and gardens are impeccable.

Ginkakuji 2. Image Credit: Ryan.
Rock Garden, Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.
Rock Garden 2, Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.
Garden 1, Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.
Garden 2, Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.
Garden 3, Ginkakuji. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Department Store Basement Food, Kyoto Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

And here’s the Shinkansen to Hakone.

Shinkansen to Hakone. Image Credit: Ryan.

Department Store bentos for the trip: sushi steak, chicken wings, and more tonkatsu.

Department Store Bentos. Image Credit: Ryan.

And lookie here: transfer at Odawara to the Romance Car.

Romance Car to Hakone. Image Credit: Ryan.

Not so much romance. But it was probably empty enough for some.

Inside the Romance Car. Image Credit: T.

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.

View from the Romance Car. Image Credit: Ryan.

Straight off of hanafuda cards: inoshishi (Japanese wild boar) roam here.

Beware the Inoshishi! Image Credit: Ryan.

Our stop in the mountains.

Miyanoshita Station. Image Credit: Ryan.

City of Miyanoshita.

City of Miyanoshita. Image Credit: Ryan.

And after a 2 minute walk, we reached our ‘traditional’ ryokan, Hakone Ginyu.

Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

T and Ryan, Hakone. Image Credit: Random Stranger.

This particular ryokan has an Indonesian influence.

Hakone Ginyu Interior. Image Credit: Ryan.

Lots of wood and mood lighting.

Hakone Ginyu Interior 2. Image Credit: Ryan.

And, as previously suggested, this place has its location down.

Hakone Ginyu Exterior. Image Credit: Ryan.

Then they lead you to the next room to enjoy a hot beverage and to contemplate a fish tank.

Beverage and Contemplation, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

The beverage in question: soy milk, pineapple, and ginger. It was pretty good.

Contemplation Beverage, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

On to the next seating arrangement! This one in our room.

Next Seating Arrangement, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

Checking out the outside private onsen.

Outside Private Onsen, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

And the inside one.

Inside Private Onsen, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

The Powder Room.

The Powder Room, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

The sleeping area in the background, eating area in the fore.

Sleeping and Eating Area, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

And Ryan has already slipped into something more comfortable for our first meal here at Hakone Ginyu.

Ready for Dinner, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: T.

Starting with a refreshing orange wine.

Orange Wine at Dinner. Image Credit: Ryan.

Tonight’s dinner menu.

Dinner Menu, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.
The Appetizers, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

The soup. Notice the tableware. Changed at every setting, every meal.

The Soup, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

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.

Seafood Dish, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.
Entree 1: Chicken Balls, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.
Entree 2: Bonito and Deconstructed Other Stuff, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.
Entree 3: Thin Sliced Wagyu, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.
Hot Stone Grill, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

The rice dish. Otherwise known as the ‘we’re getting very Japanese-y now’ dish.

The Rice Dish, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

Dessert: cake, custard and fruits.

The Dessert, Hakone Ginyu. Image Credit: Ryan.

Satisfied patrons after their first meal. Good night.

Ryan and T After Dinner. Image Credit: Random Stranger.

 


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