No schedule, no problem. A later breakfast around 9, we enjoyed the wonderful pastries the Hyatt Regency bakes.
A short walk up the street lead us to a little Shinto shrine. Deserted except for the few elderly Japanese preparing for an upcoming festival, we were able to feel the full effect of the serenity of the place. It was a nice change not to be competing with other tourists over the best place to take a picture. From what we could gather from our cook last night, there is a special festival that occurs tomorrow, the only problem us leaving the city. I guess it is also known for the monkeys the decorate the temple (no live ones, sorry). Standing on the precipice of the main shrine, I was calmed watching the locals go about their work, sweeping up the leaves and hanging up rope.
We walked to Kyoto Station, where we explored the surrounding stores in search of no particular item. Without luck, we left empty-handed for the temple next door, Higashi Honganji. Claiming to be the largest wooden building in the world — putting into question whether it or the Great Buddha Hall is telling the truth– this shrine is magnificent in a way the others aren’t. Yes, its size is impressive, but what stands out to me is its open spaces and yet intricate details. The interiors of the great buildings are relatively empty, but the dramatic scenes played out in gold in the front of the shrine capture your attention. Prayers are sent from seated positions on the tatami mats that cover the floors. I took a moment to kneel in this magnificent place and take it all in, realizing that my time in the great city of Kyoto would soon be over.
We walked back to Nishiki Market, locating a ramen spot we found through Yelp. The line at Kyoto Gogyo wasn’t too long; after a short wait we headed inside and took a seat at the counter in front of the cooks. Flames shot up in the corner as they took our order: the house special pork ramen and gyoza. The gyoza skin was thinner than paper and the meat was intensely flavorful for the small little packets of goodness. The ramen broth was rich and filling, and the noodles were chewy and oh so good. The meat was fatty and a perfect representation of the bowl.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering through malls and shops, where we were lucky enough to spot Pikachu and Santa Pikachu.
For our way back, we walked along the river bank. With great white ibises fishing in the stream, it was easy to breath easy, especially with the lullaby of water splashing along with us.