Friday, March 9, 2012

kyoto: saga toriimoto

Saga Toriimoto is one of the protected areas of Kyoto, designated for the preservation of historical buildings. One of the things I really love to do is check out the architecture of buildings of the country I'm visiting so being able to see some historical Japanese architecture was really cool.

thatched roofs!
This area contained a lot of different architecture but because of how big some of these houses were it was really hard to take pictures of them together. Added to the fact that there were random vending machines that would ruin the picture. Darn you vending machines! Because this area is a designated preservation area, the outer facade of the buildings must be kept to resemble its former glory. However on the inside most of these buildings hosted restaurants or souvenir shops that could be seen through the screens or windows which would also ruin the oldsy time feel of my pictures. There are a bunch of temples around the area but since it was past 4pm when I went, past visiting hours, this area was pretty dead. I didn't see anyone else but myself and all the stores and restaurants had closed for the day. I assume they have the same hours as the surrounding temples to cater to temple visitors. I got pretty lost trying to find this area and then leaving I got even more lost because I took a different route and ended up near farmland and in suburbia with the only sign of life being delivery drivers.

Below I have provided some directions on how to to reach the Saga Toriimoto via public transportation which mostly just includes walking after taking the bus. I'm pretty sure if you go during the busy times (when the temples are open) there will be others who will be heading there and so you can follow them. I didn't see other people complaining about how hard it was to find this area so I'm not sure what they used to reach this area but on foot it was pretty hard.

Take either the #28 or #91 bus all the way to the end stop at Daikakuji which is also the site of the Daikakuji Temple. The bus station is right across from the temple so as you're exiting the bus station make a left onto the street. Keep walking straight until you see this shanty on your right hand side.
You'll want to stay on the main road which will be to your left and will head down the hill. If you keep walking straight past this shanty you'll be entering farmland and will be going in the wrong direction. Trust me I did this because I had no clue where I was going and then thinking I might be going the wrong way (not like there was any signs either way) I walked back out and asked a random granny I had passed beforehand. Thankfully she pointed me in the right way or I would have never found this place on my own. Yes it is that obscure. You'll be walking down the hill for awhile passing a whole bunch of fields as you go. You'll know you've reached the bottom when directly in front of you is what I would term a "big" intersection because the road consists of two lanes allowing for two directional traffic. Usually streets are so small that cars can only go in one direction at a time and the other has to pull over to make room - hence my usage of big here. You'll want to walk straight across this "big" intersection until you hit a barbershop where you will make a right. In case the barbershop isn't there anymore it shouldn't be a street or two past this big intersection. After you make a right you'll walk straight till you hit a major crosswalk Kiyotaki michi. Continue walking straight and you'll find yourself on Sagashakadomae which is where the Seiryo-ji is located.
Enter the temple grounds and then leave through the left hand exit and immediately upon exiting turn right. You'll be walking down a road that is lined with a lot of trees and fields and you'll feel like you're going in the wrong direction since it seems like you are entering farmland again but this is the right course! I had gone down this path and started doubting myself again and had go back into the suburb area and accosted a delivery driver on a scooter for directions. This area needs more English signage and more clear cut directional arrows. You'll keep walking until you hit another intersection at this point you'll turn left and will be heading uphill. If you turn right at the intersection you'll be heading toward a busy intersection with cars, sounds and civilization. Walking up this hill some more you'll eventually reach the preserved district! On the way you'll pass by modern looking houses and farmland which can be really disorienting and there will be no signage so good luck :P

One of the reasons I ended up getting lost when I tried to head back to the bus station was because I wanted to check out the Sagano Doll House aka the Kyoto Japanese Folk Dolls Museum. When I got there it was already closed and since I had no idea where I was at this point I thought I would just walk down and eventually hit the main intersection. No such luck I somehow ended up being on the opposite side of a river that I couldn't cross and had to wander around until I eventually managed to find a field that I could cross to get back on the right side of the river. At this point the lack of people and the setting sun was freaking me out because I did not want to get stuck out here in the dark without a phone or anyone even knowing where I was. Then after I finally arrived back in Kyoto and planning to take the train back to Tsu to spend the rest of the week with Vinnie I made the mistake of taking the local train from Kyoto to Osaka. What was suppose to be a very fast train ride ending up being super long as we stopped at every little obscure stop. If I knew the train system better I should have known to get the hell off at the first major stop before it started its slow route through the small stops but of course I had no idea so even when we hit the big stops I just stayed on. I had originally planned it so that I would have plenty of time to grab some dinner in Osaka before making the long trip back to Tsu but of course the slow ass local train made this impossible and I barely caught the train that would allow me to reach Tsu before the trains in Tsu stopped running. ARG. Riding the trains back to Tsu is so much more difficult since it isn't a destination stop and therefore I need to know beforehand which destination stops will include a stop at Tsu which is different from big stops like Osaka and Kyoto which are always listed.
In one of the windows of a restaurant/store there was a whole scene made out of these cute little dolls. So adorable and such excellent details!
Real life version. I saw a bunch of these rickshaws in the Arashiyama area. I hope these guys didn't run/walk all the way from there! I love the buses in Japan! Not only are they efficient and seem to run on a schedule but they also have stop buttons everywhere! In addition to the stop buttons all over the walls of the bus they also have one on the back of each seat so it isn't necessary to stand up to hit a stop button. Amazing, how come other country buses don't do this?? At bus stops you don't have to wonder when the bus will come because they tell you...
This signage board shows the last few stops before yours and when a bus is there the little bus icons actually flip and move in accordance with the real life buses. How awesome must it be to have a time table for the buses and not just a vague every 15-30 minutes.

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