After visiting three temples in succession, we were ready for a break and some food before darkness fell so we headed for the Gion district to do some shopping and get a bite to eat. Sunset hits at 4 pm so we had a couple of hours of daylight left to browse around the main street, Shijo Dori.
We caught a cab outside of Ginkaku-ji and drove south to Sanjūsangen-dō. We had planned to visit before catching our train the next day as it is near Kyoto Station but taking cabs around the city in the morning had saved us a lot of time so we could fit it in. Since the historic sights around Kyoto are spread across the city, we would normally just take public transportation to visit them but since we only had 1 full day in Kyoto, we wanted to make the most of it so we splurged on cabs.
Back to the main thing: Sanjūsangen-dō. The temple has a few distinctions, namely that it is the longest wooden building in Japan and that it contains 1000 individual Kannon statues in 10 rows of 100 columns.
After our visit to Kiyomizu-dera, we caught a cab for Ginkaku-ji (aka Jisho-ji), the Silver Temple. We heard that this temple had some of the best gardens in Kyoto and that was no exaggeration! Our cabbie dropped us off in front of a street blocked off to traffic and from there we made our way on foot to the temple.
Day 8 dawned clear and cold on our traditional house in Kyoto and we slowly thawed out before heading out for our first stop of the day: Kiyomizu-dera, the Pure Water Temple. Fortunately, it is MUCH easier to hail a cab in Japan than it is in San Francisco and it’s a lot more likely that the cab drivers understand English as well (even if the cabbie says he doesn’t speak English, he can figure it out), so it’s a nice situation. I just need to remember this won’t be the way things work back home. *sigh*
We were dropped off at the base of the temple area lined with souvenir and food shops.
After settling in at our traditional house, we took a look at the map to see what sites were nearby and decided to take the 15-minute walk to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. We wound our way through side streets like this but, thanks to our phones with Google Maps, we didn’t get lost.
Day 7 saw us arise bright and early to head to Shibuya Station so we could catch the Narita Express for our Shinkansen to Kyoto. Though it had rained the previous day, we were fortunate in clear dry weather. However, we had a cold snap and it was really chilly – with wind. Brrr! One of my friends had a companion to keep him warm, though.
I have been fortunate in my travels to not suffer from jet lag and, fortunately, this trip so far hasn’t been an exception. Despite needing to catch up on the sleep we didn’t get before the trip and during the flight, we were all ready to go and explore a bit of Taipei.
We caught the high speed rail (HSR) from Zhubei to Taipei city via business class (sorry, no pics) which was a very nice way to travel indeed. It amazes and shames me that so many people here speak English while I can neither speak nor read any Chinese. This is my first time being in a country where I do not speak the language even a little so it’s quite humbling when even the 7-eleven clerks and train stewardesses speak perfect English to me. Everyone we have encountered here thus far has been exceedingly kind and I genuinely feel very privileged to be able to spend time in their country.
Once we arrived in Taipei, we went searching for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast and found the place but decided not to go in as there was a 2-hour line snaking out of the building. We decided to head for a street market instead and slowly worked our way through the stands sampling the delectable treats for display.