Kyoto to Sekigahara (Day 2: Walking in Kyoto)

November 15th, 2019, the second day, I visited Nijo-Castle二条城 in the tour, and Sanjyusangendo temples 三十三間堂 by myself.

Nijo-Castle Tour 二条城

10:00 AM, we visited Nijo-Castle 二条城, which was completed in 1603 as the Kyoto residence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun go Tokugawa Government.

The subway is the second-best way for wandering in Kyoto following to cycling😊

We bought One-day subway pass at Kyoto station 京都駅 and went to Nijyojyo-mae station 二条城前駅.

Tonan Sumi-yagura 東南隅櫓, South-east Watch Tower, which was one of the original watch tower built in 1620’s.

We joined Nijo-Castle official tour in the back of Higashi Otemon gate 東大手門, the main gate to the castle. 

The gate was built in 1662. Now it has the second story as same as the other castles in Japan, which was a storeroom for weapons and defense facilities. 
However, when the Emperor visited the castle, the gate was altered to a one-story gate, because no one would be able to look down upon the Emperor from above.

The white lines on the wall originally show the status of the temple in Kyoto. Five lines mean the highest rank, which is related to the imperial family.

Kara-mon gate 唐門 is the front gate of Ninomaru palace 二の丸御殿, restored in 2013.

A lot of gold decorations and carvings.

You can find lots of Imperial chrysanthemum crest on the gate. After Shogun returned the political control to the Emperor, Nijo castle became the Imperial Villa.

During the restoration of the gate in 2013, the family crest of Tokugawa Shogun was discovered under the Imperial chrysanthemum crest!

The “triple hollyhock” crest of Tokugawa family appeared under the Imperial Chrysanthemum crest.

We entered Ninomaru Palace, where the last Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, returned his political power to the Emperor in 1867.

Inside the palace, we enjoyed many magnificent wall paintings by the Kano School in 1626. All wall paintings had special meanings for the various visitors. For example, in the waiting rooms for the feudal loads or Daimyos has the paintings of two ferocious tigers. It showed the authority of the Tokugawa Shogun. However, the room for high-ranking court nobles and the feudal lords who had close ties to the Tokugawa family has paintings of scenery from each of the seasons to welcome and entertain them.

Taking photos is prohibited inside the palace. If you want to see inside the palace, go to the official webpage of Nijo-Castle.

 After the tour, we walked inside of Honmaru, the center of the castle. And we climbed up the base of the castle tower, which burned down caused by thunderbolt.

The view from the base of the castle tower.

Strolling around east Kyoto

In the afternoon, we disbanded at Shijo area 四条 and I enjoyed visiting temples in east area alone.

Crossed Sanjo-Ohashi 三条大橋 on Kamo river 鴨川, literary means duck river.
Minami-za 南座, the birthplace of Kabuki 歌舞伎.

Sanjusangen-do temple 三十三間堂

I took the Keihan line 京阪電車 to Shichi-jo 七条 and walked to Sanjusangendo temple 三十三間堂, which I wanted to visit for a long time. The temple was built in 1164 by Taira no Kiyomori 平清盛, the head of the Heike, the powerful samurai clan inside of the huge palace of the Ex-Emperor Go-Shirakawa.

The temple name “Sanjusangendo” 三十三間堂 means “A Hall of thirty-three bays (spaces between pillars)” and the 390 ft.

The hall houses 1,001 Kannon, the marcy god statues which were made between the 12th century to 14th century. Some of them were designated as National Treasures.

I was overwhelmed by the awe‐inspiring and breathtaking sight and also felt the serine atmosphere.

Taking a photo in the hall was strictly prohibited. Please see the Japan Times article and you find the photo of a part of the statues. All Kannon statues are different and it is said that you can find one statue similar to you. I recommend visiting the temple at least once.

Rengeo-in or “Sanjusangen-do” is the longest wooden hall in Japan. The present hall was built in 1266.

Kodaiji Temple 高台寺

Then I got on a bus and back to Shijo 四条 area. Kodaiji 高台寺 temple was established in 1606 by the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉, who unified Japan in the Sengoku era, the 140 years waring state between 15 and 16th century, to pray for his soul after his death.

The entrance of the temple.

The temple has huge and beautiful gardens and I enjoyed the autumn leaves. There was a tomb of Nene, the wife of Hideyoshi, and wooden statues of Hideyoshi and Nene. They said to have been a very loving couple.

The temple also has bamboo

The karakasa-tei 傘亭 lit, umbrella house was designed by Sen-no-rikyu 千利休, one of the founders of Japanese “Way of Tea”, and the tea house is said to be moved from Fushimi castle 伏見城.

Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社 and Shijo area 四条

Then I walked down to Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社 located in Gion area 祇園, the Geisha district, which is the local shrine of this area.

Maiden 舞殿, the court music pavilion. Under the eaves, there were a lot of paper lanterns with the Geisha restaurant’s names.

Ponto-Cho 先斗町

I crossed Shijo-Ohashi 四条大橋 again on Kamo river 鴨川, and walked through Ponto-Cho 先斗町

Geisha restaurants, Gaisha studio and Izakaya on the narrow street.

Tea Ceremony at Fukuju-en 福寿園

We gathered again and experienced Tea Ceremony at Fukuju-en 福寿園.

We learned how to make delicious Sencha 煎茶(Not Macha 抹茶), which we daily drink, but the process was different. I thought it was similar to the Taiwanese tea ceremony.

After the Tea experience, we went to Soba restaurants and held the Farewell party of the 2019 Japan Cycle Tour.

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