After our relaxing daytime visit to the historic city of Uji, my parents were happy to retreat into the comfort of our Ōsaka hotel and prepare to turn in for the night. As far as I was concerned, however, the day was far from spent … so I dashed off on my own to Kyōto for a special evening light-up that only takes place when the city’s trees are enrobed in their autumn majesty.
From our base at the Hotel Granvia near Ōsaka Station (not to be confused with Shin-Ōsaka Station), I travelled northwards to Japan’s ancient capital of Kyōto. I’ve been to the city several times before, though not to the specific place that was my target for this evening.
That target was Eikan-dō Zenrin-ji, a temple compound nestled against the wooded hills bordering the eastern side of Kyōto. I’m no stranger to the neighbourhood – I visited the nearby Nanzen-ji complex on my very first trip to Japan – but what drew me back to the area on this occasion was Eikan-dō’s annual autumn light-up, when the temple’s many trees are illuminated after dark and their brilliant fall colours are spectacularly revealed to hordes of eager visitors.
The crowds were quite thick during the special illumination (and understandably so), with fierce but orderly competition for prime photo spots. My biggest regret: giving up on one particularly well-regarded vantage point that would have granted me a splendid view of the stone bridge in the middle of Eikan-dō’s central Hōjō Pond, simply because the line for that hallowed spot was too long.
No matter – it was still worth coming all the way out here to see these splendid vistas first-hand, even if I was unable to capture some of the very best of them on my camera (committing them to memory was the next best thing). As for those scenes that I did manage to photograph, here’s a sampling for our shared enjoyment.
In keeping with the festive atmosphere, a small area was set up with benches and decorative parasols where patrons could warm themselves up on hot beverages.
On my way back, I spied a poster informing the public that IC cards would become usable on Kyōto City buses from the 24th of December 2014. Note that the announcement pertains specifically to Kyōto City buses (市バス), the green-coloured ones that ply routes in the city centre, so presumably the red Kyōto buses (note: no “City” in the name) that serve more outlying areas still aren’t covered.
And just before boarding a train back to Ōsaka, I grabbed a quick shot of Kyōto Tower, standing proudly like a humongous daikon across the street from the city’s main railway hub. I’ve greeted this landmark many times over the past few years … hard to avoid it, after all, given how it’s probably the most prominent thing in sight for anyone walking out of the northern side of Kyōto Station.
Next on our autumn Kansai adventure: a day at one of Japan’s best-known theme parks.
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