Wow! It snowed cats and dogs today! Wait…does it snow cats and dogs? What do cats and dogs turn into when they freeze?
Anyways, it snowed a bunch today! I heard that it was some record-breaking amount for Kyoto. I didn’t arrive here until New Year’s last year, so I haven’t yet experienced a full winter that I could compare this year’s to, but I sure know that the snow was never this deep last January.
So, what did I do to celebrate the occasion? Well, seeing as I FINISHED MY 4,000 CHARACTER ESSAY I saddled up and headed to one of the few temples that yet remained on my to-see list: Enryaku-ji, the sprawling complex poised high on the shoulders of 848m Hiei-zan.
At the height of the temple’s power it possessed some 3000 temple buildings and had an army of thousands of sohei, or warrior monks….until Oda Nobunaga saw its power as a threat to his aims to unify the nation and destroyed most of it along with the monks inside. What I visited was the remains. It wasn’t quite 3,000 buildings, but it still felt more like a mountaintop city than a temple.
At first I had intended on riding my bike up the mountain, but I didn’t quite realize how steep of an incline it was. Even that wouldn’t normally stop me…but when my little one-speed shopping bike started getting wheelspin on the paved road, I gave up and decided to take the cablecar.
As I got off at the top of the mountain, there was almost nobody in sight…except for one older Japanese man in front of me. He commented under his breath about how cold it was, and when I responded, he expressed his surprise that I understood him.
The two of us ended up spending the rest of the afternoon chatting and strolling the temple complex together. I felt a little silly at times because I wasn’t being all that talkative. Combine the fact that he spoke VERY fast Kansai dialect, I was exhausted from getting to bed late the night before, and I had a few things on my mind, and you have a quieter-than-usual Justin. But it still felt nice to have the company 🙂
Unfortunately, along with the beautiful scenery the winter also brings extraordinarily short daylight hours, so we were soon on our way back down the mountain.
One more sunrise, one more sunset. 58 days left in Japan!