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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kitano Tenmangu

北野天満宮

Traveled up to Kyoto yesterday for a brief visit to catch up with old friends. Took the bus again for a very reasonable 4,000 yen return fare from Nagoya. The journey on the JR bus lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes (compared to 50 minutes by shinkansen).
Giant votive wooden plaque - ema - at the Inoshishi Shrine, Kyoto

I stayed at the Kyoto Garden Palace Hotel just opposite the West Gate of the Imperial Palace. A pleasant evening was spent at the British style gastro-pub "Browns" (Bars/Restaurants/Clubs Kyoto) in the north west of Kyoto. Bus #46 going past Bukkyo University will take you pretty near, get off at the SeicoMart on your left as you head north.

The place is a pretty popular hang-out for foreigners in the area and is well worth a visit for the excellent food, draught Bass and good selection of single malts.

Today I visited an interesting wild boar (inoshishi) shrine just south of the hotel, strolled in the Imperial Palace and then paid a visit to Hirano Shrine and the "Hatsu Tenjin" at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. This huge flea market is held on the 25th of each month and features a vast array of antiques, plants, foodstuffs, second hand kimonos and just about anything else.

Prayers at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto

Having lived in Kyoto for over a decade and left three years ago, it is always special to come back. Some things have hardly changed, such as the ridiculously crowded buses (mostly people over 75 it seems, making use of their free bus passes), the hundreds of cyclists on the sidewalks and the amazing number of shrines and temples just about everywhere.

The place can have a certain melancholic feel to it, though, when the 1000s of students who attend universities in the city are on vacation, and Kyoto is left to ponder its past glories and seemingly rapidly aging population.



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