Friday dawned cool and drizzly in Osaka. It was our last day in the area, and Kathleen, Kasey and I decided we would like to spend it in Kyoto. Kathleen called her "host sister" Kyoko, who met us at our hotel.
We took the shuttle bus to Osaka station, and hopped on an express train to Kyoto. Our first destination was Fushimi-Inari Taisha, a major shrine to Inari, the god of rice, sake and prosperity. We hopped in a cab from Kyoto Station to make our way there.
The shrine is known for its 10,000+ torii (gates), donated by supporters of the shrine. The orange-lacquered torii wind their way up the mountain, attended by stone and bronze fox statues (foxes are considered to be the messengers of kami, or deities).
We didn't make it all the way to the top of the mountain, since we were running out of time and wanted to reach Ryoan-ji before it closed.
Ryoan-ji is perhaps the most famous Zen garden in the world. It consists of a white gravel field, in which are set fifteen rocks. The arrangement is intended to provide a setting for contemplative thought.
At any one time, only fourteen of the rocks can be seen from any vantage point. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit the garden, but was a bit surprised that it is smaller than I imagined. Quite beautiful though.
We left Ryoan-ji and took a cab to a bookstore Kasey wanted to see. Then we walked around a bit, and found a small restaurant. Once inside, we sat at the counter and waited for the rice to cook. The restaurant specialized in rice, and cooked each batch to order (which took about 30 minutes).
The food was good, and the restaurant had great atmosphere. We finally made it back to our hotel around 10pm and commenced packing for our early morning departure.
Post-trip Haiku #1:
rainy april day
warm inside, where steaming rice
veils the street beyond