Our itinerary to round up Kyoto began with a visit to Kinkaku-Ji. Waiting for Wesley to arrive, my breakfast was the amazingly traditional choice of green tea sundae. (It had cornflakes at the bottom, so it counts right?) Kinkaku-Ji was 500 yen to enter and very crowded. It’s a beautiful attraction to visit, but I’m not sure it was worth the price of going in since you were only allowed to view the temple from outside. We also purchased some charms here, but later found the same ones 300 yen cheaper at Kiyomizu-dera! I was naïve in thinking that they were special to that particular location and not some mass produced tourist souvenir. Disappointing!
I would advise finding a location to eat before heading to Kiyomizu-dera. The food around the area is a little overpriced compared to other locations, but I guess it’s natural with the amount of tourists it attracts. Out of all the sights I’ve visited in Japan, the immediate area of Kiyomizu-dera is definitely the prime location to dress in yukatas! There’s so many people in traditional Japanese dress, you probably stick out more by being in normal clothes.
Attracted by the small cluster of tourists coming out of an unassuming temple, we were intrigued and paid the 100-yen entrance fee to go inside. The idea is that you enter the womb of Daizuigu Bosatsu, become a new born again and spinning the stone at the end grants you a wish. It was the weirdest thing stepping inside as it’s totally pitch black. Sometimes in the dark, you can make out faint shapes, but here it was impossible. It’s quite an unsettling feeling, but made amusing by the sounds of other people bumping into one another (there’s a rope to guide you round the inside).
Feeling a little disorientated as we stepped back out into the light, we headed towards Jishu Shrine, a place for the romantics amongst you. There’s two love stones here that come with a special challenge. Upon touching the first one, you close your eyes and attempt to make your way to the other. Doing this successfully means finding true love! It was sweet to see a group of school children helping out a classmate by shouting out hints and a group of girls also helped a stranger find her way to the other stone. Unfortunately, Wesley failed at this task and was condemned to never finding his true love.
Not to be overlooked, Kiyomizu-dera itself provides a lovely viewpoint to see Kyoto in the daytime. Seeing photographs on Google tells me it would be an even more spectacular sight during cherry blossom season. Not to mention autumn. Or winter. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to return seasonally and observe the changes?