This weekend was a three day weekend because of Respect for the Aged Day on Monday so on Saturday we went for a day trip to Kyoto. There were a dozen or so of us that went on the trip so I imagine we stood out as a huge gai(koku)jin crowd. After a fifteen minute bike ride to the Hikone train station we got tickets for Kyoto. They were fairly inexpensive; less than 2000 yen for round trip tickets. The train ride itself is less than an hour.
The Kyoto train station is much more impressive than that of Hikone. There are several floors and restaurants scattered about, as well as a skywalk. While we were there a contest was going on between high school music bands on a central stage.
After reaching Kyoto and purchasing our day-long bus tickets our first, and most important, stop was to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion Temple). Kinkaku-ji is a large temple covered in gold leaf. It’s quite a striking image when the sun illuminates it and reflects upon the Mirror Pond.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around Kyoto. We strolled along the main street in the shopping district which was very pretty and lively with all the bright lights and store advertisements. Then we stopped at a small restaurant that was ridiculously cheap and tasty. After wandering a bit more, we stopped and drank a bit while listening to a live Japanese band perform on the riverfront. It would have been a very relaxing way to end my first Kyoto trip but on the train ride back to Hikone, one of the students got into a conversation with an interesting (i.e. crazy) old man who we could barely understand. He kept randomly breaking into a song about San Francisco and had all the Japanese people around us laughing hysterically. I’m quite looking forward to revisiting Kyoto and seeing all the things that I didn’t manage to visit this time.