Today a group of us went to see the famous Golden Pavilion and a Zen Rock Garden. It was overcast and cloudy with light showers here and there. Many of us came into the day real tired. All these long days and early mornings are starting to take their toll. The pavilion and garden were a bit of a walk from the train station so we took a bus to get us closer. It was our first bus experience and several of us had trouble fitting into the seats…
From the bus stop it was about a 15-minute walk to our first stop, the world renown Gold Pavilion. I personally was very excited about seeing an ancient oriental pavilion made out of pure gold. I was hoping it would be sunny so the gold would glimmer in the sunlight but it was real cloudy.
We got to the gates and were hit with an entrance fee of 3 bucks. When we got inside we read about the pavilion in the pamphlet. It was not actually an ancient one…it was rebuilt in 1957 as a replica…and it wasn’t made out of gold, just gold leaf on the outside. So the glimmering ancient solid gold structure wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was neat and I got some pictures but this was the first time on this trip that I can say I was disappointed. I was glad to find that I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the Golden Pavilion as it seemed to be the general consensus. However, Ryan and I did have fun trying to throw our yen pennies into the Buddha bowls so if you ever visit make sure you bring some change.
We then headed to the Rock Garden. I was very interested to see what it was like and figured if anything, it would at least be a pretty walk. We got to the gate and….it was a 5 dollar entrance fee. Only three of us went in while the others waited at the gate. It was about a 5 minute walk from the gate past a scenic pond and into the temple where the Rock Garden was. The rock garden is supposed to emphasize simplicity, a place where you can free your mind and meditate. Well let me tell you how soothing it was to be serenaded by the sound of bludgeoning hammers and construction reverberating off the walls and throughout the temple. They were in the process of remodeling the temple. The rock garden was…well, very simple. It was what it said it was, rocks in a garden. I know it is supposed to be simplistic and all, but to me it just looked like a gravel putt-putt course with a big white construction board on one side. Maybe I just don’t get it, maybe my zen was disturbed by the cacophonous racket caused by the construction, maybe I need to be more enlightened by climbing Mt. Hiei again or squeezing through some nostrils.
After the rock garden we headed back to Kyoto station and finished out the night with some delicious Okonomiyake. Although I was disappointed by the sightseeing today our group managed to have fun together and continue to make the best of our time in Japan!
- James -