Japanese Trip Details

R and I have been figuring out the last details of our Japan trip. We leave this coming Friday and will be back on October 9.

For the first three days, we’ll be in Tokyo, probably recovering from a little jetlag and then going to the Imperial Palace. I managed to get tickets through the government agency that runs the visits there for our last day there. I expect that we’ll also take a day trip to Kamakura to see the Buddha statue and sites there.

On the 25th, we’ll begin nine nights in Kyoto after taking the bullet train over from Tokyo. I have tickets to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto as well. Kyoto, as some are hopefully aware, is the original Japanese imperial capitol and the home to many of the historic sites. While there, we plan on visiting a lot of temples and museums, taking a trip up to Mt. Hiei, the home of Tendai Buddhism. We will also be taking a day trip to Nara to see the sites there. I’ve also looked at a walking tour for us of the city and the place we’re staying at rents bicycles.

Garden at Muryoko-in

On the 3rd, we’ll go to Mt. Koya, which is the home of Shingon Buddhism. Shingon and Tendai are the two Japanese sects that practice Mikkyo, the esoteric Buddhism of Japan. We’ll be spending one night in  Muryoko-in, a temple there, and the second night at Eko-in, another temple. (It is quite busy this time of year so we had to change locations.) The temples are a common place to stay since Koyasan is a temple complex, effectively its own town, at the end of a cable-car ride and up a mountain. We both plan to get up at the crack of dawn in each temple to see the morning services with the Buddhist priests there and the goma fire ritual. There is a lot to see at Mt. Koya and we expect to use the two days fully. We have a friend of a friend in the area that works as a guide so we may have someone showing us around for much of it.

After that, we’re spending a night in Himeji and going to see the famous castle there.

After this, our plans are open. We’d like to go to Hiroshima but we haven’t figured out the details for that trip. I also have an acquaintance near Okayama, a shingon priest, that it would be nice to see in person and maybe have lunch with this. A friend of ours who is relocating to Japan right now is having a potluck in Hashimoto, in the same general region as Kyoto, on October 7, as well.

By October 8, we’ll be back in Tokyo for the night so we can fly out early in the afternoon on October 9. Because of the date shift, we’ll land the same day back in San Francisco.