"My introduction to Japan" Kyoto by Bunsch
Kyoto Travel Guide: 1,941 reviews and 6,256 photos
In 1998-1999, my older son was studying in Kyoto, living with a host family. They kindly invited our entire family -- my ex, me, our younger son, and a niece who'd never done any travelling before -- to stay. The room set aside for a family shrine was turned over to us; futons, rice pillows and tatami mats were produced for our comfort; and we began an odyssey of Japanese home cooking, baths, and then an exploration of the surroundings. It was an amazing trip. We loved the beauty of Kyoto, its temples and shrines, its flowering cherries, the museums and shops.
On our very first full day in Kyoto, we decided to take a short hike to get rid of all the "airline muscles" and chose Monkey Mountain as our destination. It is a pleasant walk to the summit, where there is a Monkey House, but all along the route we found dozens of monkeys (often involved in copulation, which was no end of fun for my young niece who was traveling with us). We tried singing the Colonel Bogey March to see if that would scare them off (it works for panthers in California, supposedly), but they were quite interested in what snacks we might have brought along with us. Some good photo opportunities here.
In a city full of temples, it is hard to pick a favorite. About half of us preferred the Silver Temple. But wherever you go, you find these tranquil scenes -- architecture and landscaping conspiring to create an ineffable beauty. We went to the Golden Temple on a Kyoto city bus, which was another adventure.
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