Kyoto: temples and food market

Today we really got our money’s worth out of the bike hire:

Our adventures started at the Nishiki food market – with some foods so pretty you wouldn’t dare eat them (e.g. little candies in the forms of tiny autumn leaves), and some I wouldn’t dare eat anyway!

Then we began our temple crawl, the highlight of which was Kiyomizu-dera. This temple contains the separate Jishu shrine dedicated to love and matchmaking. Those who can walk with their eyes closed between two stones in front of the shrine will find a splendid love. Also in the complex is the Otowa-no-taki waterfall where we drank from the sacred waters, believed to have therapeutic properties. This requires reaching out a metal ladle to catch the water from a small wooden verandah. The ladles are hygienically sanitised between visitors with ultra-violet radiation which I find impressive, if somewhat lacking in romance. I’m not expecting the Catholic church to go down this route any time soon for chalices. Also here is the tainai-meguri – a sort of labyrinth that you walk in the dark following the buddhist beads – a symbolic journey into the womb of the bodhisattva. My mum has been talking for the last few years about the power of the labyrinth in healing and spiritual practice. So Mum: if it’s time to take it to the next level, you can do them in the dark. 

For the good ideas file: I like the (Western style) toilets here that have a little basin on top of the cistern so that when you flush the toilet fresh water comes through a tap above the toilet for you to wash your hands before it runs down to fill the cistern ready for the next flush.

For dinner: tempura followed by a Kyoto specialty: small uncooked dough balls on skewers – I didn’t like them, but I guess they can’t all be winners.

Incidentally, I am developing a strange fondness for those little plastic food models they have everywhere. I hear there is one somewhere in the city that portrays an elaborate dessert worth 180euro which patrons have to give advance notice if they wish to order – this may be worth a detour tomorrow…

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