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We headed out at 9am today, yes we slept in a bit this morning, to go to the Heian Jingu Shrine (平安神宮).  The torii before the main gate is one of the largest in Japan, and the main building, or shaden (社殿), is designed to imitate the Kyoto Imperial Palace on a three-fourth scale. The Heian Jingū was built in 1895 for the 1,100th anniversary of the establishment of Heiankyō (the old name of Kyoto). The shrine is dedicated to Emperor Kanmu and Emperor Kōmei. The former moved the capital to Heiankyō, and the latter was the last before Emperor Meiji, who moved the capital to Tokyo. The Heian Jingū hosts the Jidai Matsuri, one of the three most important festivals of Kyoto. The procession of this festival begins at the old Imperial palace, and includes carrying the mikoshi (portable shrines) of Emperors Kanmu and Kōmei to the Heian Jingū.

Heian Jingu Shrine Tori Gates

Heian Jingu Shrine Tori Gates

Heian Jingu Shrine

Heian Jingu Shrine

All of the temple grounds have an abundance of trees.  Some were striking in size or shape or texture.  This tree was outstanding from its branch structure which is often seen best in winter.

Branch structure in winter

Branch structure in winter

Also throughout the grounds are many Japanese Black Pine trees.  Some towering over the grounds others more contained in height due to their environment such as this pine tree on a small island in the lake.

Small pine on an island

Small pine on an island

The Heian temple grounds were very large and expansive and much more open than many temples we have visited.  Perhaps that is because this is one of the few temples that we visited that was not at the foothills of the mountains surrounding Kyoto.

Across the Lake

Across the LakeAcross the Lake

We have to admit this was perhaps our least favorite temple visit and it seemed to be a bit too commercialized for us and just didn’t seem to have the same level of tranquility we encountered at other sites.  Visiting it in Spring might have left us with a different impression as the water areas were surrounded with azaleas and we are sure would bring tremendous color to this area.

On the way out of the temple I couldn’t help but take this photo as it for some reason made me laugh. What do you think?

Way Out!

Way Out!

We left the temple and headed to the Gion for lunch.  What a mistake as the restaurants we did find were terribly expensive.  However, in walking through the Gion we did encounter several Geishas of which we were able to take only one photo and that was a very quick one.

A Geisha in Gion

A Geisha in Gion

We saw several women in kimonos throughout the day, some were being married at the hotel, and I have to say they are quite stunning in both color and form.

We decided to head back to the hotel but first we wanted to walk through the Nisiki market to find some  gobo and other small food items.  We came across a seafood vendor selling snow crab – look at the per piece prices.

Snow Crab

Snow Crab

The price of the crab was mind boggling with the most  inexpensive at $88 running up to over $120 per crab.  One would really have to like this crab in order to have a meal on them.

These next two photos I have thought about for days having seen this shortly after we arrived in Kyoto.  Octopus and Sushi on a stick!

Octupus on a stick

Octupus on a stick

Sushi on a stick

Sushi on a stick

I guess we have just never thought of  this before – seafood on a stick, raw seafood that is, but here it is.  Does it seem odd to you to  be walking down the street munching on a baby octopus on a stick?  Well many were doing so including small  children.

Well as I write this today it is 2/14 in Kyoto and KJ and I are going to celebrate our wedding anniversary by having lunch at perhaps the most famous ramen shop in Kyoto.  We have had a wonderful 12-year marriage so far and I can only hope that it sees many more dozens of years.  Raise a glass to us as we will be thinking of you.  Love you David and Nathan!

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