Higashiyama Jisho-ji temple

The first stop on our Philosopher's Path was the Higashiyama Jisho-ji temple, which is also known as the Silver Pavilion, which is also known as Ginkakuji.  

Unfortunately, the Silver Pavilion never received its silver layer!  Later in this blog, I will have my write up on the Golden Pavilion!

We really enjoyed this shrine.  This was one of the first shrines that we went to where you dropped off my red seal book and I got a number.  I did not have to wait in line.  I wish all the shrines would do them like this!  

This temple had one of the first stone gardens that we saw for contemplation and reflection.

This template also had a little elevation heading up into the hills on the north side of Kyoto.  The view was beautiful.  

We hit some beautiful weather and sun!

We really enjoyed this temple as it was one of our first shinto shrines.  I would also recommend starting at this temple and then moving south on the Philosopher's path allowing you to start this visit with fresh legs!


Shugakuin Imperial Villa

One of our favorite places in Kyoto was the Shugakuin Imperial Palace (as you can see from the score).
The gardens require that you apply to enter them in advance; we applied about three months in advance providing passport info and location where we are staying.  They only admit a limited number of visitors every day.  We also did one other tour, but the third palace was already at capacity.

The set-up was similar to the visit to the Sento Imperial Gardens.  We got headsets and off we went.  

The land has three villas: (literally) the lower, middle, and upper tea houses.   A you could suspect, they are at different altitudes.  The property only has tea houses; it was not a place that the shogun could even spend the night.  The shogun designed the gardens and ensured the views would be spectacular around each corner.

The lower villa was subtle clothed in shadows and moss and delicate greenery.  

The grounds were linked with rice fields and flowers.

Aren't the fields spectacular?  

The mi…

Imperial Palace

We had a guided tour of the of the Sento Imperial Palace gardens and then headed to the Imperial Palace.  The palace is open to the public and is free to enter.  This also had a great headset and app option to learn about the grounds.  

This was a last minute add to the schedule, but we really liked it.  Again, it was the first day we were in and it gave us again more of a foundation to understand the imperial and royal lineage.  

This again was a walk of the grounds, but we could see into a few select buildings.  The audio guides were really helpful.  We used the app for this one with our own set of headphones.  I also recommend using the lockers to put your stuff in -- it really is nice to have a break on your shoulders!

The grounds were beautiful.  The time was well spent, it was free and provided a great overview of Japanese cultural design and history.

Time on palace grounds: 1.5 hrs
Times visited: 1
Overall: A-

Sento Imperial Palace Gardens

One of the first things we saw in Kyoto was the Sento Imperial Palace Gardens.

The gardens require that you apply to enter them in advance; we applied about three months in advance providing passport info and location where we are staying.  They only admit a limited number of visitors every day.  We also did one other tour, but the third palace was already at capacity.

We had to arrive early for security.  It seemed like most of the visitors at the garden were actually Japanese.  The tour guide provided an in-person Japanese tour guide, whereas we got audio guides in English.  The audio guides were great.  They covered each of the main spots that the tour guide stopped to elaborate on key highlights.  

The Sento Imperial Palace is where the crown prince and princess stay when they are in Kyoto.  The tour doesn't enter any buildings, but you cover the full walking garden and see inside some of the tea houses.

The garden was beautiful.  The strolling gardens provided a different view fr…

Osaka Museum of History

On a rainy day, Jason and I decided to head to Osaka.  One of the places that was recommended to visit was the Osaka Museum of History.  I figured this would be a good review of the history of Japan and how large industrial cities have developed within Japan.  

We headed over there as soon as we arrived in Osaka.  They really did not want us to wear our wet rain coats.  We found the logistics a little complicated.  While fine that we took the elevators to the top floor, we took escalators to the next floor down.  At the end though, it had us take the escalators down an additional six floors.  Each floor required multiple loops.

The translation level to English was quite limited.  We found as well that parts of the museum were quite unedited.  It was challenging to understand how all the floors fit together.  

In theory, it was walking us chronologically through the development of the Osaka.  

One of the pieces of the museum we did like was the view of the Osaka Castle, which we did not en…

Kasuga Taisha Shrine

The Kasuga Taisha shrine was our last stop before lunch (and my ankles gave out)!  This is actually a familial shrine of a wealthy family.  This shrine is famous for the number of lanterns, both stone and metal ones.  

Their large ceremonies involve lighting up all the lanterns.  They gave us an idea of what it looks like with a dark room and a few lit lanterns with a wall of mirrors.  This photo isn't great, but it is the best we could do!

Just a beautiful shrine with great descriptions!
Time in shrine: 1 hr
Times visited: 1
Overall: A-

Nigatsu-do Shrine

Jason and I did not spend much time in the Nigatsu-do Shrine, but it sure did have a beautiful view!  It is somewhat on the edge of the hill with views of Nara Park and some of the other shrines and temples I have highlighted in this blog.

It was not for the faint of heart though (or those requiring flat grounds) as it was one that had more than its fair share of steps, but I was prepared.  The stairs were beautiful with all the prayer stones lining it.

The lanterns were beautiful at the top as well

Most of our visit was devoted to the view.  As this was relatively adjacent to the other shrines we wanted to see, this was a great stop.

Time in shrine: 30 minutes
Times visited: 1
Overall: B+