Japan Trip; Golden Pavilion, Zen Gardens and More

Hello there! I've had a small hiatus of two weeks due to my broken hard disk as I told about before. I have been scanning every last byte of my computer and my families computer for photos. So I was searching and searching because without photos this would be a boring blog right? And I have found back a fair amount of them, but sadly I lost a lot of photos because my back up of them also got lost. Most of the lost photos are from my solo travels, which also means my Japan photos. Luckily there is social media where I had stored my most important photos so I can keep blogging and showing you about my travels, that's a positive thing in this whole affair. It is only a fragment of what I could show (and the quality of the photos is also downgraded a lot from the originals), but something is better than nothing I'd say!

So I'll continue writing about my trip to Japan for now. We checked out of our cosy budget hotel to spend one night a more luxurious yet homely ryokan. This ryokan was run by an old lady and her husband and they took great care of us. It was almost like doing a home stay but with the privacy of a hotel. The ryokan was located in a traditional house with a gorgeous garden (but I forgot to take a picture of that, oh my!) and a small spa bath. But it was still too early to check in so we left our luggage there and rented bicycles at the same place as the day before. The guy from the rental place recognized us and gave us a discount, nice! And today we visited probably the most famous place in Japan; the Golden Pavilion, Kikakuji. It was quite a long journey all the way to the north-east of Kyoto, but enjoyable nonetheless. As I said before, Dutchies on bicycles is like fish in the sea haha.
And lucky for us it wasn't very crowded at all, so we could take our time and enjoy the reflection of the golden building in the big lake in all rest. It was a time to let the beauty sink in and become at peace. I can tell all about it, but photos beat my words.

Next is a place that is famous with enthousiast of Zen gardens, the Ryoanji temple. The place is known for the dry landscape solely made of pebble stones with a few big stones. Those big stones can not be viewed all at once; no matter where you stand, there will always be at least once out of sight. I think the surroundings were more impressive though. Because the garden is part of a small temple which is part of an even bigger garden. There was a big lake where I spotted cute turtles. And around the temple was a little bit of vegetation and decorations including a gorgeous wishing well. It was interesting seeing the dry landscape and this time I consciously sat down to only look at the garden and clear my thoughts. When you're at a zen garden why not try becoming zen for a while, right? Until now the gorgeous gardens and temples had awed me and made me both amazed and calm. But this time I made a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate what I saw because a pile of stones doesn't really give that wow-feeling sat first sight.


We continued our journey a bit more southward to Ninna-ji. It is part of the UNESCO Historic Monuments of Kyoto, just like the Golden Pavilion and Ryoan-ji we saw earlier that day. Taking that into consideration and seeing some photos online, plus the fact that it is close to Ryoanji, I decided to put this on my list of locations to visit for Kyoto. This is once again a massive place with several buildings and gardens on its grounds. We didn't want to pay to enter every part of Ninna-ji, so we only entered the first part called goten, former residence of the head priest. You can walk around the hallways and look into the rooms. The interesting part is that the hallways are in the open air, so that outside and inside are connected to each other. This concept overflows in the garden which is also connected to the buildings and hallways. The garden is gorgeous and the harmony of outdoors and indoors is something really inspiring, especially for those interested in architecture (me!).

View when walking through the hallways

Not far away from there is Myoshin-ji. This is yet again a place with extended grounds, but what makes this place unique is that it is not located in the mountains but in a residential area so that temples and housed are kind of mixed together and that you will say locals walking around there. And visiting the grounds is free and you can ride around with your bicycle. So there we were, taking a ride with temples to our left and right. There was something really special about this place and just riding with our bicycle there that it's got a special place in my heart. By the way, we might have done something illegal by bicycling there, so if you go there by bike keep an eye out for any signs that say it's not allowed ! I didn't take many photos here, and those I did take got lost, sadly.

After nomming away a delicious ice-cream we headed back early because we we exhausted after the concert of the night before and bicycling and walking all day. The guy of the rental bikes was surprised that we came back so 'fast'. He couldn't believe we went all the way to Kinkakuji by bike and visited several places there and biked all the way back before it was evening. What can I say, we are just super fast bikers ! Or to be fair, we are just good planners, fairly good bikers and efficient sightseers I guess haha. When we arrived at our room there was some warm tea, cold refreshing water and wagashi waiting for us, awesome. And they already put our luggage there for us. That is the kind of service I would always like. We reserved the family bath for eight o'clock. We had our own bathroom but the communal bath room has an onsen-like ofuro, which is basically an at home hot spring. So after washing ourselves we soaked in the hot water of the ofuro and slowly felt our fatigue and pains leave our bodies. It is such an relaxing experience. And this was a great alternative for visiting an onsen because it meant having the relaxation without being naked in front of strangers.


  • Kinkakuji is the most famous sight of Japan. Who doesn't want to see the mesmerizing Golden Pavilion?
  • June is a great time for visiting Japan if you like to avoid too many tourists and want to visit famous places in a relative quiet atmosphere. You should be aware that it is rainy season at that time, but you could be lucky like us and only have two days of rain and many dry days (with grey skies).
  • Zen garden equals Ryoan-ji ; go here for the epitome of dry landscape gardens
  • Like Japanese architecture and Japanese gardens? Visit Ninna-ji, more particularly the goten part of it.
  • Myoshin-ji is great if you like something different and a more residential atmosphere of temples. And it's free to explore !
  • Visiting a hot spring (onsen) is something you can't miss in Japan. Pamper yourself and relax!
  • If you don't like to be naked in front of strangers, there are some onsen where you can rent a private bath. Or you can go to a hotel where there is an onsen bath included in your room or where you can rent a bath in the hotel.
  • Japanese sweets are called wagashi. They aren't really sweet like Western sweets but very pretty. If you're staying at a nice ryokan there's a chance you will get some wagashi in your room.
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  1. Your photos are beautiful. I particularly liked the rock/water/water lillies photo and the temple reflection and close up. Good to know there are less numbers in June. We have yet to visit Japan and have been wondering about the best time. Although I would love to see the cherry blossoms also. :/

    1. Thank you.The temple is so photogenic so almost any photo will look great! Yes, June was ideal for us, but be aware of the rain. But I think cherry blossom season would be the most beautiful, and busy too. I can't wait to see the cherry blossoms this coming year.

  2. I'm so sorry you lost your photos! It must be so frustrating...but it does give you a reason to come again! ;D

    I've yet to see Kinkaku-ji for some reason. Your photo captures it beautifully! It's on my places to go now!

    1. Yeah, it is SO frustrating..! But that's also what I thought; all the more reason to travel around in my free time when I am in Japan ! :D

      Oh, you haven't seen Kinkaku-ji yet? You should! It is so captivating :)