Kyoto Feb. 23
We took the bullet train to Kyoto on Friday. I had read that it was an hour away from Osaka, but the train made the trip in exactly 15 minutes. It pulled away from the platform exactly on time and arrived in Kyoto 15 minutes later. It was so quiet that you had to watch out the window to know when it started to move. We whispered to each other in order not to disturb the silence during the trip.
We had signed up for an afternoon bus tour of three tourist attractions in Kyoto. We arrived at 9:20 and spent some time getting our bearings and finding the hotel where the tour started. Then we took a taxi to save time to the Nijo castle, which was not included in the afternoon tour.
The main gate to the two old palaces.
The main door to the palace. No photos were allowed inside. :-( This was originally built in 1603 for the first Tokugawa shogun.
A lake in the Ninomaru garden on the palace grounds
A group of junior high girls. Notice how even their backpacks match?
The place is surrounded by a high wall. This was taken from a tower on the corner of the wall looking back into the palace with some of Kyoto in the background.
I'm assuming these would not be upright if they were not supported by the poles? I don't know what they are, but I guess they are trying to make a tree out of a plant that is not naturally a tree? If you know more, please let me know.
We saw gardeners trimming the pine trees. It looks like this guy started at the top and is working his way down, thinning out this tree. They were doing the same thing to many other trees here.
I think the season in Kyoto must be just a bit behind that of Osaka as the camellias were still fresh--well almost.
Are these both camellias? That's what I thought they were, but I could be mistaken. The one above (lighter pink) looks like the flower identified in the porcelain exhibit as a camellia.
With the tour our first stop was Heian Jingu (Peace Shrine)
One of the many buildings of the shrine. This is a Shinto shrine. Our guide said Japanese often celebrate special days in the Shinto way.
One of two matching ends of this long building.
I just love reflections!
Did you see Lost in Translation? These are the stepping stones Scarlett Johansson skips over. Our group had the option to go across the stones or around the outside shore.
Another reflection shot.
The  papers at right are "fortunes" tied there. If it is a bad fortune you tie it up there to leave it behind. If it is a good fortune you tie it up there to insure that it will come true. Well that's what our guide said. I don't try to make sense of these things.
Our last stop was the Kiyomizu temple on a hill overlooking Kyoto.
Two buildings of the temple. The one in the foreground has been recently painted.
Looking back out towards Kyoto.
The building with a green roof in the lower center is a well with magical water.
We walked down this long stairway to the well.
Another shot within the grounds of the temple.
Two maiko (geisha in training) posing with a tourist. This is quite close to Gion, where the novel Memoirs of a Geisha took place.
The street going back to the parking lot and Kyoto was lined with shops selling pottery, fans, food and other crafts.
Another street going down into the city.
We had dinner in a huge, very modern mall with exterior escalators going up to the 11th floor where there were lots of restaurants. The we took the train back to Osaka.
Osaka part I
Osaka part II - Mino
Hina Matsuri Dolls