And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Friday, May 29, 2015

3rd and Final Day in Kyoto

The final day in Kyoto consisted of the final item on our "bucket list;" we wanted to go to the Golden Pavilion.  The Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) means "Deer Garden Temple" and is a Zen Budhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan.  The temple integrates the structure itself and the landscape of the grounds in a very artistic way.  Similar to our LDS temple, there is a type of reverence among the grounds that you can feel upon first approaching.  If it weren't for the large quantities of people (mostly Chinese) the reverent feeling probably would have carried throughout.

Before we made it over to the temple we had to pack up and check out of our house, and then instead of carrying them around Kyoto with us, we put them into lockers at the Kyoto station like before.  We hopped on a bus that thankfully took us straight to the Golden Pavilion; getting on and off a bus with a ton of kids and all their stuff can be quite a task.

The Golden Pavilion wasn't too crowded which made for some great photos, and not too much anxiety over the possibility of loosing a child.  We were able to check everything out and enjoy the beautiful landscape around the Pavilion itself.  There were a bazillion rocks that were used to decorate the grounds and keeping the kids out of them was not a we quickly walked through everything and then called it good. 

We had to make sure to catch the express train back to Osaka in time to make our plane, so at this point in the day we called it good.  Bussed back to Kyoto Station, got our stuff, and caught the train back to Osaka.  Then back to Okinawa we went.  I'm so grateful for such great friends and the great memories we were able to make!  Definitely going to miss them when they all move this summer!!!
Waving Goodbye!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Full Day 2 of Kyoto

Monday was going to be our only full day in Kyoto, and we wanted to make the most of it.  We knew that we wanted to do 3 activities, and if we had time for more they would just be the gravy.  We wanted to check out the bamboo forest, the monkey park, and the Gion District (to hopefully spot a Geisha).  We woke up early ("Early" for us tended to be getting out the door by 10am) and caught the local bus just down the street from our house...thankfully today we didn't have any transfers.  We met up with the Bronsons at the bus station and embarked on a 40 minute ride up to the base of the mountain.

The monkey park was a 2km hike up a mountain side and we wanted to make sure to get this done first before all the kids were tired and whiney about how much their legs hurt...they really were troopers.  The hike up actually wasn't too bad and there were fun little trivia questions on the way up that entertained the kids.  Did you know that a Snow Monkey has a red face and bum because their blood is so close to the skin?  Pretty interesting, right?!? 

When we summited the mountain there were monkeys a plentiful.  They were roaming around the outdoor facility and then there was an indoor facility you could go into (the monkeys couldn't) and feed the monkeys through the windows that had metal gates on them.  The monkeys were not aggressive, but when you had food that they wanted things could get kind of tricky.  We opted to feed the monkeys peanuts since Parker would likely try to eat the apples for himself.  However the monkeys were not as into the peanuts and kept flicking them out of our hands...Dominik got a pretty bad scratch from one.  When we wanted a group picture and individual family pictures, one of the employees was nice enough to drop a little food in front of our groups so the monkeys would come over...then he called their names so they would look...and he even took the pictures!!  Talk about service!!  This was probably the highlight of my Kyoto experience.  The view was breathtaking and I loved seeing all the monkeys (especially the babies who apparently are born in the spring...perfect timing!). 

At the base of the mountain and after a short jaunt down the river and over the bridge is the beautiful bamboo forest.  The reviews made the "forest" seem like just a few bamboo stalks, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The bamboo was plentiful and created a nice cool and shaded walkway that could be enjoyed for nearly a kilometer.  At the end of the forest we met a few really nice roadside vendors selling wooden dragon flies and hand painted postcards.  We bought several of the postcards and had nice chats with both men.  One of them even told me "we had a very, very nice family."  Did he think we were all related?!? 

Outtakes...we had a LOT of them!!

Now that's a lot of kids!

After the forest we realized that we had plenty of time for the Gion District, but not much else.  We grabbed a quick lunch at a roadside stand and headed over to the district via the local subway.  Unfortunately for us, we did not see a Geisha, and our time in the district itself was cut short by Dominik's loose bowels...and no extra underwear :(  We did get to see another shrine though, and walk around the beautiful grounds, so that was quite exciting!  I'm beginning to realize however, that I am more of a "one and done" with all the temples.  Maybe it is the fact that kids make these types of things slightly less enjoyable, but I feel like they are all pretty much the same.  We ended the day with ice cream, and then some dinner from a local yakitori restaurant. 

I'm not really sure what Dominik is doing in this picture???

Shredded pork stuffed bun...yumm-o!!


Rocks were EVERYWHERE...decorative rocks, little rocks, big rocks...keeping the kids out of them was seriously a nightmare!!

Probably my favorite part of the trip was the after parties back at the house once the kids went to bed.  The Hancocks and us would stay up late playing games, eating junk food, and just enjoying one another's company.  This particular evening we ordered in some gyoza from restaurant across the street, played phase 10, and had a gummy bear competition where Troy tried to throw gummy bears as hard as he could from a standing position into TJ's mouth who was laying down.  He was 0 for 5, but they both had fun doing it!  We are really going to miss them when they move this summer!!