Thank God that John is so great with maps, because I KNOW that I would not have been able to find my way around Kyoto by bus.
We got up on our first morning in Kyoto to a 'Western Style Breakfast' at our hotel, the really wonderful Hotel Gimmond Kyoto. Their idea, though, of a western omelet, was a tiny triangle of egg, mixed with some sort of herb concoction that I could not identify. That, with toast, coffee, and salad, made up our breakfast. Enough to eat, but not really satisfying.
John got us to the nearest bus stop, many blocks away, and we ventured onto the local Kyoto bus system. The pass for all day access was 500 yen, or about $5. Pretty good deal. Here is John finding our way to the Heian Jingu (shrine), and a look at an ad for what I guessed was the 500 yen bus pass. They love cute-sy characters here.
We found the Heian Shrine, fronted by the largest torii gate in Japan. It was built in 1895 to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto, or Heian-kyo as it was known then. It is a 2/3 size replica of the old Kyoto Imperial Palace that was built in 1227.
We were really amused by the Japanese schoolgirls, who loved to have their photos taken. In the collage, you can see one group of said girls that I just had to snap a photo of. They weren't posing for me, but they were so cute.
Across the street from the Heian Shrine was this cool building, which turned out to be the annex to the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art.
We went into the main museum, in a boring, modern building...but went into the Museum of Traditional Craft. It was free! And incredibly interesting (to me, John read his book in a corner). They showed all the arts from painting and personal-shrine-building to taiko-drum-building and garden statuary and EVERYTHING in between.
Our next stop was across town at the Golden Pavillion, so called because they actually covered it with gold leaf.
Kinkajuki was built in 1397 when Ashikaga Yoshimitusu began to build this villa as a retreat, and when he abdicated in favor of his son. It became a large complex of pagodas and temples. The Golden Pavilion itself has three floors: floor 1 is the palace floor, floor 2 is for samurai, floor 3 is a temple.
The whole complex is lovely, full of opportunities to toss or place any stray coins one may have, as offerings, of course. John tossed some of his pennies onto a mat laid out among some statues outside. I pulled the bell at the shrine, calling the gods to listen up. It was a gorgeous morning.
But we were hungry. So, we found our first (what we called) noodle joint. Mostly, they had rice bowls with various ingredients, that at first we couldn't identify. We were changing buses and found this small restaurant on the street we were walking down. When we walked in, some schoolboys (uniformed up, so identifiable) just about lost it seeing 'gaijin' here. Apparently, they don't get a lot of tourists. Luckily, many of the menus in Japan come with pictures, so we just pointed to a couple of things that looked good and took what we got. Which was delicious.