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On Saturday, we started by going to the northeastern corner of Kyoto to see Ginkakuji Temple, also called the Silver Pavilion. In 1482, shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa built his retirement villa here. After Ginkakuji, we strode the Path of Philosophy, or Philosopher's walk, which is simply a a pleasant path besides an old canal that connects Ginkakuji with the vicinity of Nanzenji and lands you close to the Gion District (Geisha District). There are quite a few places of interest along the walk.

For the weekend, the plan was to see as much of Kyoto as possible. I wanted to start off in the mornings with a couple major sites and then spend the rest of the day wandering. I left most of the Kyoto sightseeing for the weekend for a couple of reasons, 1) I figured there'd be fewer people at Nara and Himeji during the week, 2) my brother Cody was going to meet us for the weekend and I wanted his help using the buses to get around Kyoto as cheaply as possible.

Castle Himeji is arguably the best castle complex in Japan and its most visited. Its current form was complete in 1618. While the city of Himeji was shelled during WW2, the castle itself was left unharmed. Himeji is a roughly hour and a half train ride from Kyoto. When we left Kyoto the weather was hot and humid as usual but the skies were unthreatening. Everything looked good on the train over... until the last couple miles into Himeji... then it came down in sheets.

Before Kyoto was the Capitol, there was Nara, which was the Capitol from 710 to 784. The main reason for moving to Kyoto from Nara was to get away from the perceived over-influence of Buddhism on the Imperial court. Although the Capitol moved, Nara remained very influential culturally for many centuries. Today, Nara still contains a huge preserved area that holds the largest number of buildings designated as National Treasures in Japan, and many UNESCO recognized World Heritage sites.

Three planes and a shuttle ride later... Man, it was tough getting plane tickets to come to Kyoto. First off, Kyoto doesn't have an airport. How many cities of 1.5 million people don't have an airport? Anyhow, Osaka has two. So... Sacramento to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Osaka and then a 1+ hour shuttle to Kyoto. Secondly, I couldn't find two roundtrips for less than $2000 a person. That wasn't going to happen. However, I could find two roundtrips and a hotel for $1600 a person. I don't know how that works, but it's good enough for me.

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