|Heian Shrine garden|
The two temples I was able to visit on this trip were completely different places, and it's pretty amazing that they are so close together on the list and in the city.
The first was number 16, Kiyomizudera. One of the biggest and most famous temples in Japan, a must-see of Kyoto, and destination of countless tourists (both Japanese and international). Kiyomizu was having a nighttime light-up of the fall color; normally you can't get in after about 5pm, but for this event you could. It's great to see Kyoto from the Kiyomizu stage at night, with its lights below.
I wasn't even sure if the pilgrim stamp window would be open, but it didn't bother me too much to think it might not be.. Kiyomizu is another temple I've been to several times and will probably visit again. It's always beautiful, and always crowded, also. I daydream of going on a regular weekday, one day, when I don't have a job anymore.
Needless to say, the evening was full of people, and I did manage to get my seal somewhere in the mix. The lady at the window was surprised to see that I was actually in line for the right thing (I can recognize the kanji for the pilgrim stuff.. which is a good thing, because it's not well marked in English). We sort of pushed our way through, enjoyed the awesomeness of the beauty of the place and its incredible leaves (it's gorgeous), and then escaped back into the city in time for a late dinner with Nami.
Last time I was at this temple, I went through the pitch dark tunnel and drank from the spring that gives the place its name, but there are still a lot of little things around the grounds I haven't visited or tried yet, so I hope to next time I go up there.
The second temple that was visited the following day could not have been more different. As it was less overwhelming, I have more distinct memories attached to it. This was Kodo, temple 19 of the pilgrimage, the only one on the route run exclusively by nuns.
There's a small shrine to creative arts in the corner of the grounds, and this temple also is home to one of the shrines to Seven Lucky Gods (those 'seven dwarf' like creatures we see a lot). There were two old ladies in the front desk booth area, one with smart old-lady lipstick. As surprised as the lady at Kiyomizu was that I was in the right line, the lady here was shocked that I could understand her instructions on how to light my incense sticks.
All in all, the weekend was a beautiful gift!