Here are some highlights from my day in Kyoto.
This is the famous Kinkaku-ji or Temple of the Gold Pavilion. It is covered in gold leaf. Getting there was a bit of a schlep. (It took a half hour bus ride from Kyoto Station, which was VERY crowded given that it's a national holiday. I guess Japanese tourists in Japan are just, well, Japanese.)
Here's another picture from closer up:
Next, I walked about 15 minutes to Ryoan-ji, which has an interested rock garden. There are 15 rocks, but you can only see 14 of them at a time, no matter which way you face (based on how spread out they are and what the viewing area is). I was honestly a bit underwhelmed, but maybe it was because it was crowded and so I was not really able to meditate on them. Regardless, once you go the Golden Temple, which is worth the trip, you might as well go here too.
In Kyoto Station on the way to my next destination, I saw the following. I have no idea what was going on, but these costumes are amazing.
My last stop of the day was Nijo-jo Castle, which is an enourmous doubled moated fortress for the Kyoto shogun. It was amazing, and completely worth seeing.
Above is the inner moat. Below is Honmaru castle, inside the inner moat, which I could not go into.
I was able to go into Ninomaru Palace, which was amazing, but was unable to take any pictures. One thing I will note was that many of the floor boards sqeak (and are called "nightingale boards"), having been intentionally engineered to do so to prevent nighttime intruders.
The above is a picture of the underside of one, showing that there is a space between the board and the beam. The diagram below, from the pamphlet handed out there, describes it better.
Finally, one more picture from the castle grounds: