During my last few days I was mainly arranging my Chinese visa in Osaka or worrying about it. It required a lot of printed, signed and/or scanned papers, two visits to Osaka, and e-mails with the tour agent at CMA CGM. I will write more about this in a post later, but a spoiler for now: I got a visa that will let me embark my container ship in China! Success!
One of the days was rainy, so I spent it mostly at the hostel, preparing. I had a quick visit to a nearby textile museum however, which had a short kimono show. Couldn’t resist! The building had three floors, with the first two selling all kinds of gorgeous, if very pricey, textile items, and yes, even kimonos. There were also several old weaving machines on display. The top floor had the actual museum and a stage for the shows. The museum was quite small but showed a respectable array of different fabrics, folding screens with gold leaf backing, and kimonos. Alas, no photography was allowed.
The show started soon after I got into the museum. They had a show every hour, and each lasted about 10 minutes. There was no narration, and it would have been nice to hear about the different styles and weaves used, or why the obis were tied in different ways. We saw seven kimonos in all, which were all lovely. After the show I went to have a proper look at the wares on sale but didn’t buy anything as it was all out of my budget. Besides, after the two kimonos I bought in Nikko, and a few ceramics I had bought earlier, my luggage was at 120 % of capacity already!
The following day was sunny, which was good as I had two temples on my list. Luckily they were walking distance from each other and there was a direct bus going there from nearby my hostel. The first temple was the big one, the Golden Temple, or Kinkaku-ji temple. It was a zen buddhist temple, which we could only admire from across the reflecting ponds. The current pagoda is a rebuilt from 1950’s after a disgruntled monk novice burned down the original one, that had survived over 500 years of history. My favorite part of the pavilion was a small covered deck on one side, stretching over the pond, which was used for fishing. Seemed like a nice place to just sit and meditate, to me.
From there I walked over to the nearby Ryoan-ji temple, with a famous zen rock garden. It was set in the middle of fairly extensive grounds with lovely trees, winding paths and a pond in the middle. The main attraction however was the rock garden, which could be viewed from the side deck of a historical building, which was the residence of the abbot.
The building had all the sliding doors open, so we could admire the beautiful paintings on the walls and the doors. The fifteen stones can not be all seen from any angle at ground level. This was intentional, as zen buddhism is about trying to attain perfection, so you should always try to see more perfectly. It was a nice peaceful spot, except for the tourists of course.
So ended my long stay in Kyoto. Lovely city, one of my favorite places in Japan so far! So much to see and do. I am glad the visa struggles meant extending my stay there.