D2 – Kyoto Exchange – Golden Pavilion

It was really warm this first full day in Kyoto, over 80 degrees. We all thought we had it bad with our warm clothes we had brought in anticipation of cool Spring temperatures. On our walk to the Golden Pavilion we found somebody who had it a lot worse than us. At least we could take off our coats!

The temple grounds of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) were even larger than those at Ryoanji Temple. 

We had been told of the popularity of this location. It was one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kyoto. It was originally constructed in 1397. It was burned down in 1950 by by a monk named Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. The building was reconstructed in 1955. It received its current outer coating of gold leaf in 1987.

Even the tickets to get onto the grounds are ornate and unique.

As you come around the entrance and gain full view of the pavilion across the lake it takes your breath away. It almost looks surreal, like a model sitting in a diorama.  This picture doesn’t even come close to conveying site. Absolutely spectacular and beautiful.

I built a koi pond in my backyard three years ago. It is something of a hobby for me, and there’s nothing I like more than ending a long day sitting by my pond listening to the waterfall and letting the stresses of the day float away. I obviously knew of Japanese koi, and these were the first grounds where I came face to face with these beautiful fish. I as amazed by their size and numbers for the rest of the week throughout Kyoto.

Some of the students wanted to take a Twitter shot before leaving the Golden Pavilion.

There was still a lot to see as we made our way through the grounds. Many different buildings, gardens, sitting areas, and souvenir stops were sprinkled throughout the grounds.  I think this site and Nara had the most tourist souvenirs of any of the places we visited.

And of course getting later in the day, there was a cry to stop for snacks.  So we found some shade and a shop selling ice cream bars. 

And Mr. Cornwell was kind enough to snap a picture with my camera of my son Corey and I (We’re the ones with glasses, I’ve got the hat) with some other students while we were waiting for everyone to finish up their snacks.

And something you don’t see a lot anymore in the States, we saw a whole variety of pay phones all over Japan.  They were unlike anything I had ever seen before.


I think every student pulled their cameras out to snap a picture of this sign. The clean streets do not stop with litter only. Pet owners are constantly reminded to pick up after their pets.

The thing that continually amazed me about Kyoto is the sheer number of historic sites scattered around town. You would just be walking down a street and stumble on a small temple, garden or palace. And when you learned of how long they had been standing, and admired the statues and other decorations, you suddenly realized there was no graffiti in Kyoto anywhere!  We never once saw a speck of graffiti in our travels around Kyoto.  Chris Flesuras III said he knew of one out of the way spot where he had once found some graffiti, but he was not sure it still existed.  Impressive.

On our way to the bus stop to ride to the Kimono Factory the kids were looking for somewhere to eat their lunches. I was hoping for a nice park or garden to take in the nice weather. Most of the students were being provided bento boxed lunches by their host families. However, even two days away from home some of the kids were longing for familiar foods.  And what is more familiar than McDonald’s?

Here my son Corey enjoys his bento lunch in McDonald’s while the others sample the Japanese version of McDonalds (yuck!).  I tried a burger and was not impressed.  The fries tasted like home.  The large sodas in Japan are as small as a small size in the States.  No buckets of soda in Japan.

And no, the food at McDonald’s in Japan is not all familiar.

What was even more interesting to the students were the posters out in front that advertised jobs available at McDonald’s, and how much they paid for each. Some were obviously career jobs, while others targeted at younger workers.


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