City of Shrines, Temples, and Kimonos

So tried on a kimono today at this shop in Kyoto that sells used kimonos. It was very nice, but I decided that spending $100 on something pretty that I would never ever wear was somewhat superfluous. I tried to justify it by thinking that I would use it as a bathrobe, but that’s an expensive bathrobe. So I do not have a kimono. I do, however, have way too many photos of temples and shrines and other very cool things here. Today was a national holiday because it is the first day of spring. Last night, all the temples in the area where I am staying (Higashiyama = Eastern Mountains, really close to Gion, the geisha district) were lit up and open late to celebrate. It would have been awesome if it wasn`t for the fact that it was literally pissing down rain. I have never gotten so wet in my life. My jeans and shoes were still soaked this morning despite using an entire newspaper to stuff then last night. My gigantic umbrella gave up from overuse and began to leak so I had to buy a new one this morning to stay dry.
Today, I hit up a bunch of temples and shrines, mostly Zen Buddhist ones, which was a nice change from the ornate and over-the-top Buddhism I am used to from China. One had a large raked rock and large stone garden which, apparently, is famous for it aesthetic nature or something like that. Two of them were world heritage sites. Because of the public holiday, you could get into temples etc free if you were wearing a kimono so there were women everywhere in beautiful ones. At one of the temples, I was pondering the garden and I hear a `Gillian…?!?` I turn around, and there is Leighsa, our watch leader this leg. Of all the people in Japan, what is the chance?? To make the world even smaller, she is staying at a hostel in town with an Australian Katie and I met last week in Osaka. Craziness.
And possibly very exciting was that today I saw MONKEYS! Thats right, I saw Japanese Snow Monkeys. These guys are the furthest north living monkeys that exist and they are ugly. But, they are monkeys and they do what monkeys do, including jump at you and hiss while you are taking a picture so that your picture ends up one big blurr because you are so freaked out by it. From the hill where they were, there was a great view of Kyoto. It was a good wander up there.
My 2 days of Kyoto adventuring is over tomorrow – I head back to Osaka after lunch to meet up with the rest of the crew. Thanks for the tips, Colleen, we can compare notes when I get home and you can see how much has changed in 25 years!!

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