Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Real geisha in Kyoto! Okay, maybe they're not real--people do pay to get made up like this for fun. But aren't they so pretty with all the pink blooming behind them? This last weekend we went to Kyoto. As our guide book says, "Kyoto is where you find the Japan of your imagination: raked pebble gardens, poets' huts hidden amid bamboo groves, arcades of vermilion shrine gates, geisha disappearing into the doorways of traditional restaurants, golden temples floating above tranquil waters." It was just that. Well, it was just that with hundreds and hundreds of other people soaking it up. Our book didn't leave out that part either. It warned us that Kyoto is an incredibly popular tourist destination, especially during spring. Still, the scenery beyond the masses of people was beautiful. Andrew was a great tour guide for our weekend. Although we picked out which places we'd see together, I was a little more indifferent just because I was up for anything and there were so many choices. Also, Andrew's great at navigating the various train stations and maps we used. He has a compass too. It actually came in handy a number of times. So here's a peek at what we saw.

Comfortable geisha shoes, I think not. Wooden platform flip flops, ugh. And these are sooooo expensive. We passed a shoe store that only carried these, and all of them were between $200-$500! Other places probably sell them cheaper as this was in Kyoto and looked like a specialty geisha shoe shop.

We visited a number of shrines and temples. I looked on the map to double check which ones are shown here, but it's hard to remember just by looking at the names on the map. So for the sake of me not making a fool of myself by naming them wrong, I'll just say I know we went to Kodaiji Temple and Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the surrounding shrines of each, and the next few pictures are from those areas.

The buildings aren't just beautiful outside, but inside as well.

The landscape.

On Saturday night we stayed in a Machiya, a traditional Japanese house. Thanks again to Frances for telling us about this place! We were going to stay in a hotel until she mentioned this place. It was fun to stay in a real Japanese style house. Below is the front door of the house.

The bathroom was our favorite part. All cedar. It smelled great. What you do is sit on the little stool (or stand up) and shower first, then get in the bath. The tub didn't look too comfortable, but it actually was!

Our bedroom. Futons with fluffy comforters.

The sitting area off the bedroom.

The kitchen. Behind that door is the bathroom.

The entryway.

The view from the living room to the garden.

This is a lovely canal that ran through the main restaurant district near our place. In the water are big lights that throw light on the trees above at night. It looked really pretty at night and during the day.

The wonderful restaurant where we ate lunch, Heikichi, which was on Kiyamachi road. We got to sit on tatami mats! This actually wasn't very comfortable. I was wearing a dress and had a hard time sitting nice and lady like, and Andrew's legs fell asleep! Still, it was fun and lunch was great.

Our meal was delicious and probably our favorite Japanese meal so far. We got a lunch set. We had no idea what we were ordering because the menu was only in Japanese and our waitress didn't speak English (and as you probably figured out by now, we don't speak Japanese beyond basics like thank you, which I still have trouble with for no good reason). The lunch was a stew of meatballs with tofu and green onions on top, a side of rice with fish, miso soup and a cabbage and mung bean sprout salad. The meatballs were great! So was the sauce they were in.

On Sunday we went to Fushimi-inari-taisha, which was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake in the 8th century by the Hata family. There are dozens of stone foxes throughout the shrines, which is the god of cereal grains. There are also hundreds of torii, the big orange wooden gates that you see in the pictures. They line a few miles of pathways throughout the shrines. This place was beautiful. The pictures don't capture the atmosphere and the landscape very well, but there were far less people here than the temples and shrines we went to on Saturday, and Fushimi-inari-taisha is nestled in the woods where you can hear birds chirping, water rushing and just take in the beauty of the surroundings in a more peaceful way.

Origami garlands.
Torii lining the paths.

After we left the shrine, we walked to a cafe that Andrew picked out in our guide book and we passed this funky house.

We went to Cafe Bibliotic HELLO! I loved this place. I would like to live in here. It would make a really neat loft apartment. The desserts and tea we had were great, but they also had sandwiches that looked great too. If you go to Kyoto, I really recommend making a stop here. It's just a few blocks from the Imperial Palace Park. You can kick back and flip through the books and magazines they have as well.

Goodbye Kyoto!


Jaimee said...

Thanks so much for sharing.

kat said...

Wonderful images, so glad I found your blog - now I just want to travel...

willow said...

Kyoto is gorgeous!! Glad you were able to visit. Love the geisha photo! Reminds me of my favorite scene in "Memoirs of a Geisha" when the cherry blossoms are floating down on Sayuri.

Lisa Wilson (& Alfie!) at The Pickled Hutch said...

See you Saturday Leigh. You have been missed!
Lisa & Alfie

Pikiteniang Swefil said...

I love Asian style!!! §:-)) am one of them, of course...but living in Stockholm for long time.

Ur lucky that you visit Kyoto...So nice and clean.

Jst leaving some footprints here. I glided in while browsing friends blogs.

Nice here & well done!

Regards from Stockholm,
My swedish blog. Jst bare w/ me §:-)

Angela said...

I love your pictures of the place you stand in. I am playing on going there soon. Was wondering how you found the apartment and such... Thanks for sharing

disa said...
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