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Japan Autumn 2022, Blog - 3

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Today we decided to have a little excursion as we have JR passes this allows us to travel on the trains as much as we like within the dates purchased, so cost effective if travelling around a lot.

***An observation note, all the Japanese wear their masks when they are outside everywhere. Don’t think it’s mandatory as we don’t have to, it’s just their mentality, though it’s polite to wear them in certain places. Inside it’s mandatory to wear masks at all times.***

So today our itinerary was a short train journey to Uji which is a small city between Kyoto and Nara to visit the world heritage Byodoin temple that is on the back of the 10,000 yen note.

A quick 5 mins walk to the train station picking up breakfast on the way. Having our train passes meant we did not need to purchase tickets saving time and we soon found our platform for the train, which was on the Nara line a place we’ve been before with all the deer, our destination was 7 stops away taking about 30 minutes.

The entrances to the gardens and temple were only about 10 minutes walk. To get to the entrances you often have to walk past shops where the local people are selling food and the usual touristy stuff, but it was fairly quiet and clear to see the main tourists have not hit this area as yet. In fact we’ve not come across any English people yet and today only a couple of westerners or foreigners as the Japanese call us!!.

The Byodoin temple has unique Buddhist Pure Land architecture. Combined with it’s grounds the temple embodies the Pure Land Paradise and influenced later temples. Byodoin was first built in 998 not as a temple but as a countryside villa for Fujiwara no Michinaga, who was a powerful politician.

Byodoin’s museum is mostly underground to not to distract from the temple. It has many historic artifacts on display including many national treasures.

The temple is set in a very spacious grounds with the usual well maintained pine and acer trees, there was unusually more Acer trees here small leafed cultivar so trying to find out the variety.

The temple is situated near a wide river that has islands with bridges to cross which were unusual in their engineering, location which we crossed over to visit a small Shrine called the Ujigami Shrine, which is thought to be the oldest standing shrine in Japan, though there are no official records of when it was built, but experts estimate around 1060.

By now it was a very nice sunny day lovely and warm, but peaceful as we crossed over the river and it’s grounds. Walking a little further to the main Uji bridge back over the river it is one of the oldest bridges in Japan (rebuilt of course many times as the first bridge was first built in 646!! The present bridge was constructed in 1996).

We headed back to the station to catch the Nara line train back but only 5 stopes to our next itinerary item which was the Tofukuji Temple, this is a large Zen Temple situated in south-eastern Kyoto, established in 1236 by the powerful Fujiwara clan.

To enter the Tofukuji Temple you have to take your shoes off as to not damage the flooring as you walk round to view the Zen garden with its meticulously raked gravel and strategically placed stones.

Then back to the station for one stop to the central station in Kyoto. Then it was back to the hotel freshen up then out for a meal.

In total we walked 9.5 miles today.

Kind Regards

Stephen & Anthony

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