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Castle, food safari and Golden Pavilion

Kyoto has a population of about 1.5 million yet there are about 1/4 of cars on the road compared to Brisbane. Probably because of the amount of bike riders, the immense bus routes (see picture below) and underground system.

I must appologise for the number of pictures below, but today was just overwhelming.

We made the awesome choice of hiring bikes for 500 yen (about $5.50) each for the day.  This way we could cover a lot of ground and we saw a lot of backstreets and sights you wouldn't see otherwise.

Nijo-Jo Castle

First stop Nijo-Jo Castle, this was the founding place of the Shogun era and also the place where the Shogun era was declared ended and power was handed back to the imperial family (i.e. Emperor) .  This castle was also a fortified castle but compared to Matsumoto castle it seemed more a political establishment.  It was spectacular in its own special way.

Castle entry gates.  The castle itself contains an outer and inner wall.

The artwork is just amazing.  We couldn't take pictures inside the castle but everything was given so much thought and detail, that it just astounded us. Every painted wall in each room has a meaning, such as to evoke power or authority to it's visitors, ie tigers to show strength. Different rooms depicted different seasons,

The class of this place was carried over to the outside gardens.

Who wants a kiss?

Trees, and in this case cycads are covered in straw structures to protect them from the snow.

Tree pruners in action

Nishiki food markets

We had to purchase a 200 yen (about $2.50) all day bike parking ticket.  The facilities are just filled with rows of bikes.
 Special parking for what we call "Prado" bikes (i.e. equivilant to what Ozs use Toyota Prados for).  Mums use these to transport their kids (i.e. up to two at a time) to and from school.
 In the food market we even found a scooter in a shop.
There is so much food variety it is just astounding.
Here we have octopus with a quail egg in its head.
Didn't try that.
Tried the squid, it tasted awesome.
 Sake tasting with friendly lady. Have to make a reminder to get some on the way home.

Didn't try

Varieties of green tea.

Quail, sparrow and duck
 Hamo or Conger Pike, which we tried i.e. picture after this one. It tasted very nice.

 Tried two varietes of the below.
 Squishy soap, which felt very odd, but smelled quite nice. (BTW Kerrie made me use it)

 Kerrie's prawn snack.

 Geishas eating ice cream.

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) 

 Awesome thatch roof.

 Prayer candles
 Ice cream out of a vending machine

On the way home

Friend from outer space

Prodo in action

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