Golden Pavilion, Onsen & Arashiyama
19.10.2012 - 20.10.2012 -20 °C
Yesterday we braved another vom inducing bus ride to visit Kyoto's famous Golden Pavilion, so called because it is plastered with gold leaf inside and out. The design of the current structure originates from 1408, although the building itself is a replica after a it was destroyed by a fire in 1950. For most of its history, the Pavilion has been associated with Buddhist religious sects.
Having been in Japan for 3 weeks, we are a little temple weary. However, we chose to visit this one because of its unique architecture and history. It didn't disappoint, it was just as amazing up close as in photographs. The temple sits in front of a backdrop of mountains and amidst a carefully landscaped garden, in which every rock and plant has been perfectly placed to evoke religious and mythological stories. The Pavilion itself sits in front of a lake which beautifully reflects the golden structure.
We also bumped into a really lovely family who are staying at our hostel:
Today we ventured to pastures new and headed to a hot spring bath (Onsen). We were excited about the prospect of having a relaxing spa day but were slightly unsure about having to strut about naked and bathe with a bunch of strange women. We've been friends for a long time but we have never been tempted to stray into naked bathing territory before.
We decided the best way to look inconspicuous was to go in all guns blazing and strut in with heads held up high, as if we were regulars. One tip for you: always keep your eyes up so you know where your eyes are AND where their eyes are. Warning to all: if you decide to back up into a pool so as not to give your friend a full frontal, check there are no old ladies sitting behind you.
Other than that, it's all plain sailing and we really enjoyed ourselves. For about £7, you can spend up to 3 hours bathing and relaxing in the various indoor and outdoor pools. There are jacuzzi type baths which massage your back, heated pools where you can watch TV, small individual hot tubs outside that are like having your own personal sauna. There are also sun loungers outside to lay down and cool off. You are given an electronic wristband so that if you decide to enjoy a massage, body scrub or one of the various other treatments they can scan the bar code and they just add it to your bill at the end.
You'll be pleased to know that there are not photos from this activity.
Having got the train from central Kyoto out to the onsen, we decided to explore the surrounding town. We wandered through some residential areas before chancing on this beauty spot:
We enjoyed a lovely afternoon strolling up and down the river in Arashiyama, watching the boats and rickshaws taking tourists about. All in all, a perfectly chilled out day!