The group went to the Kasuga Shrine, but I have to admit that I passed it up and stayed in the bus. It was still pouring rain. The Kasuga shrine is famous for its many (maybe 3000) lanterns. Here's a picture anyway....admittedly retrieved from on-line sources...taken on a better day.
We had lunch at a food court and I was with a group that ate at a Chinese place. It was good, but it might have been more interesting to look around for something more Japanese. We just weren't sure we had enough time.
We headed back to Kyoto, where we visited the Sanjusangendo Temple.. It is remarkable because there are 1001 Kannon statues. One is big and is in the center, It is surrounded by 1000 life-size Kannons. All of these were formed in 1200-1300. Kannons are forms of a Buddhist diety, but I will be in "over my head" if I try to explain the significance in this particular case. Pictures are not permitted and I pulled this off the internet, too. It really doesn't do it justice. It was amazing. This picture doesn't even show the central Kannon--just one part of the 1000 Kannon. There also was a special incense, and I bought some of that because it was so beautiful and peaceful.
After that, we returned by bus to the hotel. We had a little more time for shopping and exploring the neighborhood. That evening, we had a wonderful banquet, which included a dance by a maiko. A maiko is a geisha in training. The name is a little hard to understand unless you know that, in Kyoto, a geisha is known as a geiko. The maikos are essentially their apprentices. Ours was very beautiful and also was gracious enough to answer questions about her life. it was very interesting.
This will be my last post for this trip. We left the hotel the next morning and went by bus to Kyoto Station. From there, we took the Shinkansen to Tokyo Narita. A little shopping was possible at the airport in Narita and then we boarded the plane for for a long flight to Dulles (IAD). It was a great trip, with amazing people and lots of adventures.