Kyoto is a gorgeous place. There are shrines and temples in every direction… we started at Sanjusangen-do. It is amazing. Inside, there is a long main hall lined with rows upon rows of near-identical (but each distinct) statues of the buddha. In all, there are 1,000 of them - too many to take in all at once. Each one is life-size, finely detailed and covered in gold leaf. After that, we walked from temple to temple all afternoon, stopping along the way to see the local shops and sample all the snacks and sweets. The next big temple was Kiyomizu. The place feels like a postcard - its stuck up on a hillside with picturesque views of the city. We walked around slowly the rest of the day, ending the temple visits with Heianjingu. After a mediocre dinner (or at least compared to my high kansai-cuisine expectations) we spotted a shop selling glasses for unbelievably cheap prices. 45 minutes later, we each walked out with a new pair of glasses for Y5000 ($43) each! That includes an eye-exam, frames, lenses, case, etc. After that we headed to the Funaoka Onsen (recommended by Lonely Planet) which turned out to be fantastic. They have an outdoor cypress wood tub, an electrified one (as in it shocks you gently and continuously as you sit in it), as well as several other fancy ones that are too hot for me. We headed home tired but relaxed.
Japan has a long and colorful history, and more of it shows through in Kyoto than anywhere I’ve been so far. Its common to see a 500-year-old shrine surrounded by modern buildings, or a 2nd or 3rd reconstruction of a temple or castle that is itself nearly 1000 years old. There is a lot I still want to see in Kyoto (including the famous kinkakuji) so we planned to return the next day.