Nagoya, Japan to the Island of Sakhalinsk, Russia. Our customs experience was serious in Russia with 5-6 serious Russian military around our airplane. On a positive note, it was nice to open our door to cooler temperatures (18 C)
An interested young man greeted us at the airport and took photos of airplanes and pilots.
This is a stark looking place and there are so many people smoking.
The half-hour drive to the only “decent” hotel gave us an overview of the town. Reported, there are two oil companies (Exxon and Shell) with large portion of business in Sakhalinsk. The housing buildings are austere, very old and run down, resembling housing projects. Very depressing until we came upon a small, but nice green park near the Pacific Plaza Hotel.
Very basic accommodations! We actually only had time to eat, sleep and dress for next day flight.
Second day of rainy weather in Nagoya due to reminants of current typhoon Nangka which hit parts of Japan. This was a great day to catch up on rest, email and blogging. Unfortunately, being in our room proved dangerous to Diann: I acidently smashed my right foot into furniture and limped the remainder of our trip. Urgent care at home (July 24th) diagnosed 4th and 5th toe displaced fractures! Happy to pass on walking around Airventure with Tom the day after our return home.
We are fortunate to stay at the Marriott adjacent to the train station and a major shopping mall. Time to pick up our Japanese gifts or just window shop at the high-end shops.
Dinner was entertaining at an Hibachi restaurant — tasty and fun with our group.
Kinkaku (Golden Pavilion)/ Rokuon-ji Temple, Ryoanji Temple (Zen rock garden), Arashiyama district, and Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Golden Pavilion: Kinkaku is a shariden, a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. Rokuon-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple, in the Shokokuji School of the Rinzai Sect. The area was originally the site of a villa called Kitayama-dai and owned by a statesman, Saionji Kinttsune Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the 3rd shotgun of the Muromachi period.
After Yoshimitsu died, in keeping with his will, the villa was converted into a temple by the priest Muso-kokushi, who became the first abbot. The gardens and buildings, certered on the Golden Pavilion, were said to represent the Pure Land of Buddha in this world.
Ryoanji Temple: highlights include: the large main building of the temple, Kyoyochi Pond and the simple Rock Garden. The Rock Garden is a simple and remarkable garden measuring only twenty-five meters from east to west and ten meters south to north. The rectangular Aen garden is completely diferent from the gorgeous gardens of court nobles constructed in the Middle Ages. No trees are to be seen; only fifteen rocks and white gravel are used in the garden.
This internationally famous rock garden was said to be created at the end of the Muromachi Period (around 1500), by a highly respected Zen monk, Tokuho Zenketsu.
Afternoon tour of Arashiyama district with amazing bamboo trees.
Fushimi Inari Shrine: the shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. This shrine sits at the base of a mountain names Inari which is 233 meters above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines which span 4 kilometers and takes approximately 2 hours to walk up. (We did not go to the top.)
Inari is seen as the patron of business, merchants and manutacturers. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First, and foremost, Inari is the god of rice. This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines (bunsha) throughout Japan.
Our evening at the Mishimatei Honten was a special Japanese meal enjoying the company of lovely Geisha girls’ music, dance and game. Removing our shoes at the entrance as routine.
The Bullet Train travels at 185 miles/hour and was wonderful way to reach our tranquil zen-like hotel. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto sits serenely on the banks of the Kamogawa River and offers expansive views of the famous Higashiyama Sanju-Roppo (36 mountain range). Our room has a great view of the Komogawa River.
Our first authentic Japanese dinner was in the hotel’s Muziki restaurant transitioning us to Japanese cuisine.