My first full day in Japan was a beautiful one. I started out early since I had a few places I wanted to visit. First on my list was Nij? Castle. I walked outside and felt the nice crisp air. Believe it or not, I have missed cold weather, and feeling the 50-ish-degree weather was great. To my absolute delight on the way to the castle I saw a couple of trees in bright red and yellow. Being from New England I have become accustomed to Fall foliage, and having been in Singapore for over a year I have missed that season. Last week a friend of mine had visited Japan and she saw the foliage. I arrived here fully expecting to see bare trees in complete winter mode. A smile grew on my face and stuck when I saw one, two, and more trees still with their leafs just for me. To top it off, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I explored Nij? Castle then asked to go to the next temple on my list which is right on the Philosopher’s Walk. The taxi driver dutifully said “hi” and drove me to this amazing temple right on the water and fully clad in gold. It is one thing to see Wats and Chedis in gold, but to see an ornate building that is completely in gold is something else.
Me and 1000 of my closest tourist friends walked around the lake with the temple and the surrounding park to take pictures at all sorts of angles. When I was done, I took out my handy guide book and went off in search of the canal to walk the Philosopher’s walk. It took some time but I found a canal and started to follow it. It took me through a neighborhood which was quite picturesque. The strange thing was that around the time I was supposed to find another temple, it wasn’t there. Stranger still I had to walk away from the canal to walk on the streets by several houses. Eventually I found what looked like a shopping center, and the guard-post lady was baffled at my question as to where the next temple I was to find was. Turns out the taxi driver mis-understood me and took me to Kinkaku-ji temple instead of Ginkaku-ji! It didn’t help that I somehow found a different canal that was about the same number of blocks away from the temple and started walking. Another taxi was hailed, and I was back on track. Ginkaku-ji is also a very nice temple, and is known as the Silver Temple although it never got its silver overcoat. The actual canal to walk down was quite beautiful, and I enjoyed the scenery and temples along its path.
For my next day I decided to visit the town of Nara upon the recommendations I had heard throughout the day.